Escobar grew up in poverty in Maracay, Venezuela. He started working odd jobs at age seven to help put food on the table. But there were times when that did not happen, when he and his five siblings did not have enough to eat.
Eduardo's father left when he was young, leaving his mother to fend for herself. It forced Escobar to take on a high level of responsibility at a younger age than most.
Escobar might be the most active in the community as any Diamondbacks' player in history. The teams VP of corporate and community impact, Debbie Castaldo describes him as almost over-eager, someone who seemingly has to be prevented from spending every minute of free time visiting low-income schools and communities in the Phoenix area.
"He knows what hunger feels like," Castaldo said. "He knows what fear feels like. He knows what it's like to feel for your mom and her struggle. When you can call yourself a survivor of some of those circumstances, it makes you different." (Nick Piecoro - Baseball Digest - August, 2020)
In 2006, Escobar signed with the White Sox, and scout Amador Arias, out of Venezuela.
When Escobar was 19 years old and playing in the White Sox organization, then-Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen saw him taking grounders on a backfield at the team's Spring Training complex. It was an off day for the big league team and Guillen had come to watch his son, Oney, who was playing ahead of Escobar.
"I saw him taking infield, and he was the best infielder I saw," Guillen said. "I said, 'Wait a minute, this is the best infielder I see, and he's my son's backup? This is the best infielder we have. Why is he not playing?'"
Guillen, also from Venezuela, convinced the White Sox to not release Escobar and instead send him from the Venezuelan Summer League to an affiliate in the United States. Ozzie also had the organization send Escobar to instructional camp in Arizona to keep him out of his dangerous home neighborhood of La Pica.
In 2009, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Eduardo as the 10th-best prospect in the White Sox organization. He was ranked at #19 in the spring of 2010. But they moved Escobar all the way up to 5th-best prospect in the White Sox farm system in the winter before 2011 spring camps opened.
After the 2010 season, Escobar hit .300/.353/.536 with four home runs and five triples in 28 games in the Arizona Fall League.
"He's a high energy guy," White Sox farm director Buddy Bell said in 2011. "Three years ago, he wasn't even in extended spring training. We went to the Dominican Republic and wondered why isn't this guy over here? He wasn't a big guy, but he came over here and he's come quickly. He's gotten stronger. His legs have gotten bigger and he's broader, but he's not afraid of anything.
"What you see is what you get. He doesn't put up with anything. He's kind of like Ozzie (Guillen) in that regard, but he's not as abrasive. Maybe he will be. They're very similar in the way they play and swing."
Escobar was regarded as the best defensive infielder in the White Sox's system, and Guillen, values defense as highly as anyone in the White Sox organization.
"I think he'll play mostly shortstop because I think that's a natural position for him," Bell said. "I think he'll always be able to play second. But at short, there are different plays out there, so I think he's got to play more there than second." (Mark Gonzalez-Baseball America-3/31/11)
- Eduardo can play almost any defensive position. He has become indispensable for a team dealing with multiple injuries. Escobar was subbed in at shortstop and he has started at third base and left field.
"For me, I think I am ready whatever position," Escobar said. "When I can play, I'm going to play. I can play left field, center field, infield, catcher too. That's OK. I like to play."
Escobar endeared himself to then-Twins manager Ron Gardenhire not only with his can-do attitude, but also with his work ethic. "He goes out and shags (fly balls) and does all of his work all of the time," Gardenhire said. "He takes his groundballs and goes into the outfield and runs 'em down, always in early batting practice. He's got the most experience of any of the guys, so he'll be OK."
"You can put him anywhere, keep wanting to find places for his swing," Gardenhire said. "He can be your everyday shortstop. He fields the ball well enough. He's got a really strong arm. "You need versatility, and he brings that to us. He's a pretty uplifting kid, big smile, runs around. Really likes baseball, and it shows." (Ellsesser - mlb.com - 5/7/14)
Preparing for a June 2014 matchup with the Rangers, the quiet clubhouse was filled with dozens of Twins. There were still three hours before game time. Some were relaxing, listening to music. Starting pitcher Phil Hughes was enjoying a game of cards with a few of his teammates.
But on the other side of the room, a loud utility infielder Eduardo Escobar could hardly sit still. The World Cup was on. More importantly, Brazil was playing.
"You're from Venezuela," one teammate called out to Escobar.
"No, I'm from Brazil right now," he responded.
Roughly 75 minutes into the matchup that it would eventually take from Chile in penalty kicks, Brazil narrowly missed a goal opportunity. Escobar nearly flipped upside down on the couch, yelling at the TV in Spanish. The same thing happened five minutes later. This time he dug the bat he was holding into the ground.
"I like it," Escobar said of the World Cup. "All my life I've been a fan of fútbol, especially the Brazil team ... when I was a little guy, I saw Brazil ... this is my team."
Escobar said his love for soccer has never wavered, even though he doesn't have much experience playing it. (Grace Raynor MLB.com, 6/28/2014)
April 10, 2015: Escobar's fiancée gave birth to a boy named Jose, the couple's first child. He shared good news with manager Paul Molitor.
"He was obviously very excited," Molitor said. "He spoke to me through hitting coach Rudy Hernandez that his fiancée wants him to play today. That's what he wants to do. Different people handle things differently." (Trotto - mlb.com - 4/10/15)
August 11, 2016: Twins position players have regaled manager Paul Molitor with claims of knuckleballs, split-fingers and more in futile requests to pitch in a game. When the situation finally arose, it was shortstop Eduardo Escobar who made his first career appearance on the mound for the Twins in the ninth inning in the first half of a day-night doubleheader.
Molitor chose Escobar because he believed his shortstop's arm would be the most resilient. As a precautionary measure, Molitor just asked Escobar not to throw it too hard and to focus on getting the ball over the plate.
"And then he's hitting 90," Molitor said with a chuckle.
"I don't think he heard a word I said to him when he went in there."
Escobar was the 12th Twins position player to pitch and the first since outfielder Shane Robinson on Aug. 8, 2015, against the Indians. He roused the crowd with his 90-mph heat and mixed in three curveballs for good measure. And to be fair, he had heard his manager's instructions.
"Molitor told me not to throw it too hard, to be careful, but I didn't want to go up there and throw it too slow," Escobar said through an interpreter. "I put a little bit on it. Like I said, I wasn't looking at the gun or anything, but I knew I was throwing it hard."
Eduardo will never forget Memorial Day 2017. Escobar flew to Miami for his final interview as part of his process to get a Green Card in his quest to become a U.S. citizen. It was a major step for the Venezuela-born Escobar and his family, who make their offseason home in Miami, and he now must wait five years to apply for U.S. citizenship. He missed the next day's game as a result, but when he returned on June 1, the Twins held a celebration in the clubhouse before the game to honor Escobar.
"It means a lot," Escobar said through a translator. "It's an opportunity that not everybody can get. I feel like this country has given me a lot. It's given my family a future, especially my kids. It's an opportunity I wanted to take advantage of. I still love my country of Venezuela, but it's a good thing for us to be residents."
Twins second baseman Brian Dozier orchestrated the surprise celebration. He got Escobar to wear a U.S.-themed tank top, answer eight basic questions about the United States, and sing Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" in front of his teammates. And there was a stuffed animal horse that Escobar rode, because his nickname is el caballo, the Spanish word for horse.
"It was Esky so we had to do something funny, obviously," Dozier said. "It was pretty special. I made sure every single person affiliated with the team came." As Dozier noted, Escobar is the club's funniest personality, keeping his teammates loose with his jokes, including volunteering to milk a cow on the field prior to a game against the Angels.
Twins manager Paul Molitor called the clubhouse celebration one of the highlights of the season, as it clearly meant a lot to Escobar to complete an arduous process that included a blood test and the interview with the help of an immigration attorney.
"Esky has a special place in that clubhouse," Molitor said. "A lot of our daily humor and lightheartedness revolves around Esky. To be able to have some humor involved in it, but there was a lot of guys who really cared about the fact that this guy has done what he had to do to get set up here."
Escobar said he loved the experience with his teammates, and even came to the plate with "God Bless the USA" as his walk-up music during his first at-bat on June 1. (Bollinger - mlb.com - 6/2/17)
Eduardo had been on an absolute tear since the Twins' series in Puerto Rico in April 2018. After a two-run homer in the Twins' 7-5 loss to the Blue Jays, he was 15 for 43 with six doubles, three dingers and seven RBI in nine games. Was it extra batting practice? Was he inspired by Bernie Williams' national anthem renditions?
No. It seems there's a far greater force at work. He had his photo taken with actor Nicolas Cage!
Escobar looked thrilled to be in the photo and, according to City Pages and Twins PR director Dustin Morse, he had reason to be: A native of Venezuela, Escobar uses Cage films to help him learn English. Yup, classics like Con Air, Face/Off, and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. (Monagan - mlb.com - 4/30/18)
Escobar also listens to American music to help improve his English.
Eduardo is a frequent guest of the Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chao and commonly uses the hashtag #FogoPower on social media in reference to hitting home runs.
He hosted a fundraiser dinner at the Scottsdale location, with proceeds benefitting the Eduardo Escobar Foundation. It provides food, medical supplies, basic necessities, and baseball equipment to those in need in his native Venezuela.
Eduardo proposed to his wife, Eucaris at the downtown Minneapolis location of Fogo de Chao.
Escobar adores meals at Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chao in Phoenix, jokingly saying on social media that his home run production is fueled by #FogoPower.
And when he hits a home run, he will often refer to "Fogo Power!" This led to the team wearing Fogo Power T-shirts for a time a couple of seasons ago.
In 2019, Eduardo gathered about 40 or so local high school players for a dinner there, bought them dinner, calling the group his "academic all-stars."
He introduced them to his family and presented them with gifts, and ticket vouchers for D-Backs games.
Eduardo has four sons, Eduardo Jr., Raul, Jose Emmanuel and Diego, and one daughter, Isadora.
July 16, 2019: Escobar received the MLB Players Alumni Association "Heart and Hustle" award for the Diamondbacks. This esteemed award honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game. The Heart and Hustle Award is also the only award in Major League Baseball that is voted on by former players.
In 2019, Escobar won the Luis Gonzalez Award, which is given annually to the D-backs player who best exemplifies the talents, spirit and heart of the D-backs legend both on and off the field, as voted by his teammates, coaches, and staff members.
“Eduardo Escobar has a true passion for helping make his community a better place,” said Gonzalez, Senior Advisor to the President & CEO. “This year he focused on providing education for underprivileged kids and made sure he was able to visit kids at various schools every chance he could. He really stepped up and has set an incredible example amongst all of his teammates.”
Nov 14, 2019: Escobar can do more than hit homers, rope triples and drive in runs. He's also an exceptional charades player while wearing an inflatable turkey suit. Dressed like the popular Thanksgiving dish, the D-backs infielder bested teammate Ketel Marte by acting out words and phrases in one of the many funny moments at the ninth annual D-backs Most Valuable Partner Awards at the Ovations Live Showroom at Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino.
It was Escobar's first time at the event that recognizes the D-backs' corporate partners, such as Cox and Phoenix Children’s Hospital, which received the top MVP Awards.
“Great people, important people, I’m so happy to be here,” Escobar said. “I’m having a great time.”
That was evident when Escobar was pretending to lay an egg and performing limbo and salsa dances during an impressive round of charades. He didn’t leave the event without a prize, either—bragging rights over Marte.
First, Escobar beat Marte in a game called "Shake Your Tail Feather," in which both players had a tissue box filled with feathers strapped to their lower back. The winner was the player who got more of their feathers out of the box by shaking and jumping during a set time limit, which was Escobar.
Escobar also won the game of charades with his team, composed of attendees representing several of the D-backs’ partners.
The games were part of the "Not Quite Late Night" show hosted by D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall, which has always been a popular component of the MVP Awards. Hall opened the night with a monologue, then hosted the event from behind a desk in the style of popular late-night talk shows.
It was all designed to entertain the corporate partners and fans in attendance, and it proved to be successful, with smiles and laughs filling the showroom for much of the night. (J Rill - MLB.com - Nov 14, 2019)
FEAR OF CATS
Eduardo has one weakness: A debilitating fear of cats. And not jungle cats, either, just your simple, household variety tabby. No one is sure when the fear started, with teammates relating a variety of rumors they've heard, including one where a cat attacked him at the dinner table as a child.
While we may never know the origin, Escobar's teammates, led by David Peralta, have delighted in tormenting and/or inspiring Escobar with a stuffed black rally cat.
"One million percent, I'm afraid of cats," Eduardo said. "Since I was a little kid in Venezuela, I'll see a cat and start running. I'm so nervous. I don't like to see a cat." But he is on record to say that he's cool with Baxter, the D-backs' mascot. (Clair - mlb.com - 5/17/2020)
Escobar doesn't know exactly when his fear of cats started, but it's very real. No joke. Well, except to his teammates.
Outfielder David Peralta said that former D-backs infielder Ildemaro Vargas was the one who spilled the beans about Escobar being scared of cats. His teammates have had plenty of fun with the knowledge.
They've hidden cat stuffed animals in his locker and even brought in a live cat or two. Real or fake, Escobar's reaction is the same—he sprints out of the room.
"I don't like cats, man," Escobar said. "I don't know why, but I don't."
Eduardo was never a top prospect. He is not particularly strong or physical. He is not especially fast. But he has always been a smart and fundamentally sound player, and over the years he has worked to turn himself into a threat at the plate, adding significant power to his game over the past few seasons.
Escobar might be the best player in baseball that nobody knows much about.
His makeup is elite. He is a leader. He's positive and happy. And he brings other guys with him. He is a ball of energy. Always smiling and always moving.
2020 Season: Eduardo is the catalyst for team chemistry. He walks around the clubhouse during summer camp repeatedly saying “Congratulations! I’m proud of you!” to teammates and coaches. Torey Lovullo even had a shirt made that was branded with the slogan. There was no reason to suspect he would struggle as mightily on the field as he did.
Escobar never looked quite himself at the plate throughout the season. And as the weeks went by and his performance continued to suffer, the frustration visibly grew. He could not lay off of pitches up in the zone or even manage to make contact with them, a weakness opposing pitchers exploited ruthlessly. (Keegan Thompson@k_man5000 - Dec 2, 2020)
Feb 24, 2021: It’s been quite an offseason for veteran Eduardo Escobar.
He added a balanced diet, lost around 20 pounds, and gained a new outlook on life. Escobar, who turned 32 in January and is in the final year of his three-year deal, is hoping to return to the form that made him one of the D-backs’ most productive hitters.
“Last year, I was around 210 or 214 pounds. Right now, I’m at 193, 194,” he said. “I worked really, really hard this offseason. I work hard every year, but I did something different with my diet. I had never changed my diet and that’s helped me a lot. I have more energy, I’m sleeping better, and I’m feeling really, really good.”
In 2020, Escobar hit only .212 with four home runs and 20 RBIs with a .605 OPS in 54 games. He also had eight errors in 46 starts at third base, which was a stark contrast from 2019 when he had seven errors in 144 appearances at third.
“I’m not saying I played really bad last year or whatever,” he said. “That was last year. Last year is gone. This year, with the way I’m feeling, is unbelievable. This was the first time I’ve done this in my life with my diet.” (J Sanchez - MLB.com - Feb 24, 2021)
July 12, 2021: There was joy in the D-backs’ training room when manager Torey Lovullo gathered the team there for an announcement. Eduardo Escobar, Lovullo told the room, was headed to his first-ever All-Star Game.
Escobar's joy, which resulted in tears, was understandable. It was the first All-Star selection of his 11-year big league career and it was the realization of a dream he had since he watched his first Midsummer Classic on television in Venezuela.
"I'm so happy," Escobar said. "Today is a special day for me."
But it wasn't just Escobar who was happy. His manager and teammates were almost as moved by his selection.
"Obviously he's a great player," shortstop Nick Ahmed said. "But more than that, he's a guy who brings positive energy every day. He's got a smile on his face all the time. He's having fun. I think that helps bring the best out everybody else around him. You know he takes things very seriously; he works very hard. But at the same time, he enjoys it—he's got a smile on his face, and he can laugh at himself. He has a way of kind of galvanizing people around his smile and all the phrases."
Ah yes, the phrases are part of what makes Escobar so entertaining. Escobar has some favorite words and phrases that he uses all the time that he uses whether they fit the occasion or not.
–"Proud of you!"
The team even had T-shirts made up that said "Congratulations" on the front and "Proud of you" on the back.
During batting practice, Escobar would yell out, "Early and often!" when outfielder Kole Calhoun was hitting. But Calhoun thought Escobar was yelling, "Eating lobster!" instead of "Early and often." So now any time Calhoun is in the batting cage, Escobar can be heard yelling "Lobster!"
Escobar's favorite basketball player is far and away Michael Jordan. He says his dream is to one day meet Jordan.
The Eduardo Escobar Foundation provides food, medical supplies, basic necessities and baseball equipment in Venezuela.
Escobar and his wife, Eucaris, are also heavily involved in community efforts in Arizona constantly asking D-backs senior vice president of corporate and community impact, Debbie Castaldo, what more he can do to help. As a result, he was the D-backs' nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award in 2019 and 2020. (S Gilbert - MLB.com - July 12, 2021)
2006: The White Sox signed Escobar as a free agent, out of Venezuela.
July 28, 2012: The Twins sent LHP Francisco Liriano to the White Sox, acquiring Escobar and pitcher Pedro Hernandez.
January 15, 2016: The Twins and Escobar avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal for $2.1 million.
2017: The Twins and Escobar had a one-year deal for $2.6 million.
Jan 12, 2018: The Twins and Escobar avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal for $4.8 million.
July 27, 2018: The Twins traded Escobar to the Diamondbacks; acquiring RF Ernie De La Trinidad, RF Gabriel Maciel, and RHP Jhoan Duran.
- Oct 22, 2018: Escobar signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Diamondbacks.
- July 28, 2021: The Brewers acquired INF Eduardo Escobar from the D-backs in exchange for OF Cooper Hummel and INF Alberto Ciprian. Escobar is a free agent at the end of this 2021 season.
|DOB:||1/5/1989||Agent:||MDR Sports Mgmt.|
|Birth City:||Villa de Cura, Venezuela|
|Draft:||2006 - White Sox - Free agent - Out of Venezuela|
- Escobar is a switch-hitter with just a little bit of gap power. But he is comfortable with a small-ball approach. He is not a very good hitter from the left side. He began posting good batting average numbers with a good 2010 season.
- Eduardo bunts real well and has the speed to beat out infield hits.
- Escobar needs to do a better job of controlling the strike zone.
- White Sox GM Eddie Williams said Manager Robin Ventura likes Escobar's energy, his ability to switch-hit, and his surprising ability to drive the ball. "He can bunt, he can run and move runners," said Williams. "There are a lot of things he can do. He can play third, short, and second."
On April 11, 2013, Escobar's first Major League home run came off the Royals Jeremy Guthrie. The Twins were able to retrieve the ball and present it to Escobar.
- In June 2018, he won the AL Player of the Week Award while with the Twins.
- April 29, 2019: Escobar took home NL Player of the Week honors after recording a .480 average with three home runs, a triple, three doubles, eight RBIs and a 1.573 OPS in six games. Escobar capped the week with a pair of homers, though Arizona fell to the Cubs in 15 innings.
August 20, 2019: Eduardo drove home a pair of runs, giving him 100 RBI for the season.
Escobar became the 10th switch-hitter in baseball history to collect at least 20 homers, 20 doubles and 10 triples in a season. And the first to do it since the Phillies’ Jimmy Rollins in 2007.
- As of the start of the 2021 season, Escobar's career Major League stats were: .257 batting average, 110 home runs with 446 RBI in 3,359 at-bats.
Eduardo's glove is an excellent one. He is a fluid fielder in the mold of Ozzie Guillen and Omar Vizquel, with good range, excellent hands, and a solid arm.
His quick release helps his arm play up. It is really only average, but it looks like a better-than-average.
- His range is comparable to Omar Vizquel's. And pitchers love Escobar's soft, sure hands.
- Escobar can get creative on defense. He is not flashy, but he is consistently solid.
- Eduardo is speedy. But base-stealing is not a big part of his game.
May 7-23, 2016: Escobar was on the D.L. with left groin strain.
December 2019: Eduardo wasn’t sure what happened. One moment, he was sitting at his home in Venezuela not feeling well, and the next thing he knew he was in the hospital.
“I got a bug in Venezuela. They had to hospitalize me,” Escobar said. “My brain had a little swelling, and I was in the hospital for about four or five days, including Christmas. I was scared, but fortunately everything was OK and I’m OK now.”
The doctors told him he is 100 percent healthy.
“There’s nothing to worry about,” Escobar said. “Everything turned out OK, and I’m here and ready to play, perfectly healthy.” (Steve Gilbert - Feb. 17, 2020)
- Aug 24, 2021: Escobar was on the IL with right hammy strain.
- Sept 3, 2021: Escobar was on the IL.