Birthday/Age: July 24, 1990 (22)
Ht/Wt: 6' 1", 205 pounds
How he became a Phillie: Signed as an international free agent in 2006.
Defense: Valle had a lot of work to do defensively when he signed with the Phillies, but the good news is that he has conquered most of the aspects of his defense that were seen as liabilities. The biggest issue was throwing out runners attempting to steal. It took a lot of work, but the Phillies finally got Valle to a point where he was slightly above league averages when he threw out 33% of prospective base stealers at Lakewood in 2010 and 32% the following season at Clearwater. As he reached the upper levels and found himself against more seasoned stealers, he dropped to 26% in 2012, combining his numbers between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He's still at an acceptable level, so if he maintains that percentage, he'll be in good shape.
Pitchers generally like pitching to Valle, because he stays still behind the plate and gives them a good target. Valle generally does a good job of blocking pitches in the dirt, but is prone to letting some pitches get by him; he was charged with 11 passed balls in 2012, which is about where he has been the past few seasons.
Scouting Report: In general, there is a lot to like about Valle. With his improved defensive skills, the emphasis now is on gaining consistency at the plate. He has raw power and a good command of what's a strike, but he will sometimes swing outside of the strike zone or try to do too much with a pitch. He hit a career-high 17 home runs in 2012 and the Phillies believe that he can easily repeat that if he locks himself in at the plate and just relies on his natural skills. His career minor league average of .268 is about where the Phillies would project him to be.
One scout believes that Valle could be much better than he is, but doesn't seem to have a lot of passion. "If he worked harder at his game, he could become a much better player, all around," said a scout who has seen a lot of Valle during his minor league career.
Ceiling: The tools are there for Valle to become a Carlos Ruiz type of catcher and that's not an unfamiliar comparison. The two have been linked since Valle signed a cheap - $30,000 signing bonus - deal with the Phillies when they signed him. Ruiz had signed for just $8,000 when the Phillies found him in Panama. Coming into his second season in the upper levels of the minors is going to be an important season for Ruiz and it will be interesting to see what sort of numbers he can put up. It's also going to be interesting to see how the Phillies minor league catching situation plays out, since both Valle and Tommy Joseph deserve to be at Lehigh Valley this season, but the Phillies don't want the two catching prospects splitting time behind the plate, so one is destined to either be dealt elsewhere or open the season at Double-A Reading.
ETA: Valle might not get a call to the majors until late in the 2014 season. He's still just 22, so there is time for him to reach the majors and still have a good, long career ahead of him.
Sebastian Valle's career stats