In what I considered a surprise, the St. Louis Cardinals have elected to leave infielder Breyvic Valera unprotected in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.
Baseball America agrees, listing the 22-year-old among the top 10 talents available in this year’s Draft, scheduled on December 11th.
In each of the last three seasons, the Venezuelan native was a league all-star. That included the A-Advanced Florida State League for the first half of 2014, prior to his promotion to Double-A Springfield. Though Valera is labeled by some as a singles-only hitter, in addition to batting .311 this season, the switch-hitter also finished in the top 10 in the Cardinals system in RBI, triples, runs scored and stolen bases.
In the Arizona Fall League, Valera was designated as a taxi squad player, eligible only on Wednesday and Saturday. Still, he appeared in a dozen games, batting a team-best .333 and drew five walks to boost his OBP to .400. Defensively, Valera has appeared in every infield position as well as left field, but his arm is not considered strong enough for every-day duty at short.
Once the AFL season ended, Valera returned home to play winter ball. Keep up on his progress and that of other active Cardinals in our Winter League Notebooks, here at The Cardinal Nation.
In the following exclusive interview, we get a bonus. With Valera still a bit uncomfortable conducting interviews in English, top Cleveland Indians shortstop prospect Francisco Lindor handed the translation duties.
The Cardinal Nation’s extensive interview series from the Arizona Fall League will conclude with outfielder C.J. McElroy.
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