Zoilo Almonte is a soft- spoken young man. Lately, the Charleston RiverDogs outfielder has been letting his bat do the talking for him.

Almonte, a 21-year-old from the Dominican Republic, has four home runs in his last nine games to bring his season total to 10. He also has 13 doubles and two triples to go with 25 RBIs heading into today's South Atlantic League All-Star Game in Greenville. Almonte and pitcher Ryan Flannery will represent the RiverDogs on the Southern Division all-star squad.

Almonte was drawn to baseball while watching TV in his hometown of Santa Domingo.

"When I was a little kid, I started watching players in the big leagues."

At the age of 8, Almonte started getting serious, playing Little League and doing anything else baseball related, always trying to get better.

"That is all I wanted to do, to play baseball."

And the player who most affected Almonte was fellow countryman David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox.

"He played on my hometown team in winter ball," Almonte said. "I grew up watching him. He is my favorite player."

And baseball in the Dominican Republic is very serious. It is viewed by many players as a means to a better life for them and their families.

He has had to make adjustments since moving to the United States.

"When I was in the Dominican I didn't get a chance to play professional baseball there. Here it is a business, so I have to come to the park everyday, ready to play and try to get better everyday," he said. "Over there (Dominican) we are just having fun."

When asked what the biggest culture shock life in Charleston is compared to the Dominican Republic, Almonte didn't think it was the customs, the lifestyle or the language difference.

It was the food.

"It is so different here, but it is just something I have to go through," he said.

He also is coping with the distance between him and his family.

"Being away from my family is hard," he said. "I miss them a lot.

"I would definitely love to bring them over here when I've made the big leagues and gotten more established. But for right now, I can't afford to bring them over here."

Reach Lake Morris at 937-5676 or lmorris@postandcourier.com.