Danny Valencia played in the summer for the Anchorage Glacier Pilots in the Alaskan Baseball League. He hit .256 with three home runs and 17 RBI.
"I loved it," Valencia said. "I worked on some hitting things and I adjusted to the colder weather a little bit. Playing the whole summer with the weather over there was cool."
The significant part of Danny playing for the Pilots was he played third base for them, which is where he will play for The Hurricanes this year.
"I played third base out there, which was different because last year I played first base here," Valencia said. "I got used to playing third a little bit more than I had been.
Valencia played shortstop at Spanish River High School and he played third base his freshman year at UNC-Greensboro before transferring to Miami.
"I definitely feel more comfortable at third base," Valencia said.
Valencia will replace ACC Player of the Year Ryan Braun at third base. Braun is now a member of the Milwaukee Brewers farm system after being selected by them in the first round (fifth overall).
"I don't feel like I have to take on a bigger role," Valencia said. "Obviously, I'd like to fill in what he did. Which would be good, but it's hard to replace a guy like Braun. I mean he is pretty much irreplaceable. He is a great player. I am going to try as hard as I can to try and cover up that loss. Right now it's a big hole in the lineup without him. So I am going to try to fix that and help our team out as much as possible."
The team was doing light workouts over the summer in anticipation for fall practices.
"We did a lot of individual stuff," Valencia said. "It's a lot more laid back and not too difficult. We have been working on fine tuning our defensive skills and other little things."
The Canes brought in a lot of talented position players in their recruiting class. Recruits like Dennis Raben, Jemile Weeks, Yonder Alonso, Blake Tekotte, and Nick Freitas will be counted on to contribute as freshmen.
Valencia believes either Alonso or Weeks could have a big year for the Hurricanes.
"They have both looked good hitting and defensively," Valencia said. "They both are pretty solid recruits. It is a big change to go from high school to college baseball, especially here. So we'll see what they can do, but I think they will be able to handle it."
The 'Canes lost some excellent players in Braun, ACC Pitcher of the Year Caser Carrillo, Danny Figueroa, and Paco Figueroa. The 'Canes will have a young and talented team but some experts feel the team will not live up to it usual expectations.
"I think we are good," Valencia said. "We are a young team. Our team is willing to work hard and do whatever it takes to win. I think we should be good. It shouldn't be too different from last year. We lost a few big name guys, but I think we have some guys that are going to be ready to step up as young players and I think we will be all right."
The 'Canes will be a very competitive team and if the young players develop quickly Omaha is a strong possibility. Expect Valencia to be a very consistent presence in the lineup and help carry the team to a successful 2nd season in the ACC.
The Hurricanes resume fall practices today at 2:30 and it is open to the public. Fall practices finish on November 19.
Valencia Makes Switch Back to 3B
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