Monday, March 29, 2010

Prospect #6 Danny Valencia

3rd Base
Drafted 2006, 19th round University of Miami
Levels Played in 2009: AA New Britain, AAA Rochester
Opening Day Age: 25

When evaluating an organization's player development, you have to look further then what a team does in the first round. When looking at the Twins major league club, you should expect guys like Joe Mauer, Denard Span and Michael Cuddyer to be good baseball players (1st rounders). But it is what the team does after that is where a really good major league franchise can be built from within. Danny Valencia is an excellent example of this. A guy who was selected late in the 2006 draft and has played very well at every level, now on the brink of making his major league debut.

Of course third base has been a hole for the Twins since Corey Koskie left 6 years ago. Valencia has been a player, Twins fans have kept an eye for 3 years now. In 5 levels Valencia has hit .299/.354/.480. 2009, Valencia got off to a good start in New Britain playing in 57 games and had a .373 OBP. He hit 14 doubles and 7 home runs which earned a promotion in AAA. What seems to happen to Valencia is as he has been promoted each year, he gets a little swing happy. His isolated discipline was 0.055 in Rochester. With each promotion to a new team, Valencia will hit the ball hard, have a little success and forget what got him there. For him to be successful in the future, consistency at the plate and in the field is going to be necessary.

Danny Valencia does not possess one plus tool. However, he does not do anything poorly either. He has good patience at the plate and possesses some above average power. His swing will generate a lot of doubles and possibly 20+ home runs. His defense is average. He does not have better lateral movement then the current Twins platoon of Nick Punto and Brendan Harris, but he does have a better arm then both of them. However it is the potential with the bat that will get him to play every day in Minnesota. Twins fans need to remember, although Valencia is already 25, he still has some parts of his game to work on.

If and when he gets to the majors there will be little pressure put on him. In this lineup he is going to be hitting 9th. He is playing with 2 very good defensive infielders in JJ Hardy and Orlando Hudson. Maturity and humility will be keys for him to get to Minnesota sooner rather then later. A Baseball America scout referred to him as brash and cocky. That will not float with Ron Gardenhire. Luckily the Twins have a great clubhouse filled with guys who should keep Valencia in the right mind.

ETA: Sometime around the All Star Break this year.
Projection: Everyday 3rd baseman, who can hit .270-.290 with some pretty good power. Defense will be average at best.
MLB Comparison: Garrett Atkins and Aaron Boone.

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