TCN 2012 Cards Prospect #39: Breyvic Valera

The second new name in our top 40 countdown in two days impressed in his first US action in 2011.

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2011 and career stats)

2011 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
NR 2B 8/1/1992 5-11 160 B R 2010 FA

Selected 2011 stats

GCL 0.255 110 23 28 5 2 1 13 10 17 7 0.328 0.364 0.692
JC 0.397 73 16 29 4 1 0 8 5 9 7 0.430 0.479 0.910
Total 0.311 183 39 57 9 3 1 21 15 26 14 0.368 0.410 0.777

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

CariocaCardinal (38): Breyvic Valera solidified his prospect status with an extremely strong showing in the Appalachian League after a solid start of the year in the Gulf Coast League. Playing most of 2011 at 18 years old, Valera was following up an outstanding 2010 VSL season in which he produced an .892 OPS while garnering more walks than strike outs. His 2011 season did not result in the same level of plate discipline, but given his age and level jump, his numbers in this area were still reasonable.

Valera is the type of player whose future for 2012 is more interesting for discussion than talking about his 2011 accomplishments. After playing 19 games in the rookie Appy League (and excelling), it will be interesting to see whether the Cards push Valera to a full season league out of spring training or whether they go slowly with him and start him off again in a short-season league. In either case, Valera has established himself as the Cardinals' premier shortstop prospect in the lower minor league levels.

Message board community (46): Breyvic Valera was the #46 selection of the community, after missing the top 50 last year. Inked in May, 2010, the Montalban, Venezuela product is a switch-hitting middle infielder likely destined for the keystone.

Described in Baseball America's Appalachian League chat as "a potentially exciting prospect" who can "really fly," Valera built on his excellent Venezuelan campaign of 2010 (.325/.402/.472 in a league where the norm was .261/.348/.364) by posting a league-average OPS in the Gulf Coast League, then hitting nearly .400 during his brief Appy League stint. Plenty impressive batwork from a kid who didn't turn 19 until this past summer.

Looking for a glowing report from a scout? According to one talent evaluator quoted by Derrick Goold, Valera "...barrels everything; uses the whole field; tough guy to get out." There's plenty to like about Breyvic's plate discipline as well, with a professional BB/K ratio of 39/41 so far, in 395 at-bats.

Valera may not have been a particularly heralded signing 18 months ago, but per Director of International Operations Moises Rodriguez, "He (Valera) was a guy one of our scouts, Enrique Brito, was vouching for over and over again." I look forward to seeing what Valera can do in his first shot at full-season baseball next year. Maybe Mr. Brito knew something. - BobReed

Brian Walton (35): Also known on some sites as Breyvil, Valera is the kind of prospect that makes these rankings exciting to discuss. Our 2010 Venezuelan Summer League Cardinals Player of the Year passed his first major career hurdle with flying colors when making his move to the US in 2011.

What is there not to like? We have a switch-hitting teenager with a nice line drive swing and the plate patience of a much more experienced player. He is plus runner with a 73 percent success rate with 24 stolen bases over his first two professional seasons. As noted above, Valera is able to take a walk and keeps his strikeouts under control, making him an intriguing leadoff candidate.

On the other side of the coin, his brief success at Johnson City was enhanced by a small-sample size, out-of-this-world .453 BABIP that will not continue. Unless his throwing improves over time, Valera more likely profiles as a second baseman rather than a shortstop, yet is a nifty fielder and could still become a very valuable player.

I will be watching him closely in spring camp to see if he appears ready for another big step – a job with Quad Cities to start 2012. If not and he ends up in extended spring training instead, Valera still has a lot of room for growth.

Our 2012 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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