Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Keep An Eye On: Jordany Valdespin

Jordany Valdespin is a 22 year old second base prospect who batted a robust .322/.366/.480 over 152 at-bats in Low-A Savannah last season. Rated as the "best athlete" in the Mets minor league system by Baseball America, Jordany Valdespin is a prospect worth keeping an eye on. What else is there to know about Jordany?

Mike Newman over at Scouting the Sally did a write up of Valdespin and came away less than impressed. In his evaluation of our young second base prospect, he said:

Don't be fooled by the .438 slugging percentage. While he has some pop for his size, his game is still more or less slap the ball and run. With 20 free passes in almost 300 at bats, he doesn't have the plate discipline of a lead off hitter...

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Valdespin has fluid movements and an average arm, but is a little rough around the edges. I'd describe his hands as "choppy" as he has a tendency to stab at the ball.

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Mention of his being a burner is vastly overblown. His instincts on the base paths are just so-so and have seen him thrown out badly attempting to advance on a handful of occasions. I would not project him to post anything close to gaudy stolen base totals in the future.
A pretty underwhelming evaluation from an honest blog.

Perhaps more importantly, it appears that Valdespin was somehow in trouble with the Mets organization this year. After starting 2009 with Savannah, he was then demoted to the short-season Gulf Coast League Mets and Brooklyn Cyclones. Whether this move was disciplinary or otherwise, I am not sure. According to an Adam Rubin report from April, "Fleet-footed second baseman Jordany Valdespin, who had been off to a torrid start at Savannah (.385, 3 HR, 15 RBI), has been suspended by the organization, Mets VP Tony Bernazard said without elaborating."

All that aside, there are a lot of reasons to like Valdespin. Obviously, his Savannah performance was good. More importantly, being rated the "best athlete" in the system is a huge endorsement. Being ranked ahead of the likes of Wilmer Flores, Jefry Marte, Kirk Nieuwenheis and others says a lot about his tools.[1]

In addition, he had a very strong Winter League performance. He batted .300, stole three bases, hit a home run, and did not walk or strikeout in 20 at-bats. According to Toby Hyde of Mets Minor League Blog:

2B Jordany Valdespin has become the designated pinch-runner for the Tigres del Licey. He’s entered as a pinch-runner, pinch-hitter, or defensive replacement in each of his last 13 appearances since his last start on October 25.
I am very impressed with this. The Dominican Winter League, I am told, plays a notch below AA in terms of difficulty, but Valdespin seems to have held his own. In addition, I love that he was getting playing time, particularly as a defensive replacement, on a team on which he was the second youngest player (after Carlos Triunfel). And over whom was he being selected to play defense? How about Ronnie Belliard, Anderson Hernandez and Blake DeWitt, all of whom were on the active roster for Licey.

All of these things point to a bright future for Jordany. Although it could be seen as an indictment of his talent that he has not yet reached High-A ball entering his age 22 season, his physical abilities and variety of talents (speed and defense) make him an intriguing prospect.[2]


[1] Former "Best Athlete" winners according to Baseball America: Jordany Valdespin, 2009; Carlos Gomez, 2008; Carlos Gomez, 2007; Lastings Milledge, 2006

[2] Certainly as good or better of a prospect than Greg Veloz or Jose Coronado, similar players with more name recognition for whatever reason.

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