Height/Weight: 6’0”, 190 lbs
Acquired: NDFA (2007)
Born: 12/23/87 (San Pedro de Macoris, DR)
2011 Rank: 37
Why Ranked Here: He put the discipline issues behind him to play a full, productive season and hit his way to triple-A. As a 40-man roster member, there’s a solid chance he will make his MLB debut sometime in 2012. However, he’s a 24 year old, with a big hole his game: plate discipline.
Valdespin is a speedster with a quick bat who seemed to put it almost all together in 2011, setting career highs in homers (17), doubles (32) and stolen bases (37) in 134 games split between double-A and triple-A.
Defensively, after mostly playing secondbase for various Mets affiliates since 2007, the Valdespin spent more time working at short (98 games) than at second (32 games) in 2011. I still have not met a scout who thought Valdespin could play shortstop everyday in the majors. The concerns vary from arm, hands to consistency. Valdespin committed 32 errors at short in 2011, or just about one every three games. So, he’s a second baseman who can play short in a pinch.
The major concern about Valdespin’s game is plate discipline. Combining his AA and AAA plate appearances, he walked in 4.5% of his plate appearances. Exactly 10 players in baseball qualified for a batting title with a walk rate that low. If we relax our standards, 16 qualified while drawing walks in 5% or fewer of their plate appearances. Of those 16, only three were better than average offensive players by wRC+ (where 100 in league average): Mark Trumbo (105), Adam Jones (110), Starlin Castro (109) and Melky Cabrera (118). Castro is two and a half years younger than Valdespin and already an established big leaguer. Jones will turn 27 in 2012 and up to this point has been a slightly below average outfielder, rather than the star some thought he could become. Cabrera, 27 a year ago, put together his best season, and first above 2 fWAR at 4.2. The single-best thing Valdespin can do to make himself into a more valuable player is learn how to take a walk.
2011: Valdespin was having an unexceptional season for Binghamton when he caught fire in June. In his final 53 games for Binghamton, in June, July and August, he hit .332/.372/.537 with nine doubles, 11 homers, and nine walks. Yeah, that’s right. More homers than walks. Promoted to Buffalo, he struggled for a month at the end of the season.
Dr. Pangloss Says: A longish career with a short peak as a nice-above average second baseman with some power and speed.
Debbie Downer Says: A hacker who never gets on base enough to help any major league lineup in an everyday role.
Projected 2012 Start: AAA Buffalo
MLB Arrival: 2012
You want speed? This is fast.