Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Acquired: Non-Drafted Free Agent, June 4, 2009
Ranking History: #133 (2010), #150 (2011)
Valdez was signed by the Tigers as a non-drafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2009. As a 19-year old, Valdez posted a 5.23 ERA with four saves in 26 games. He allowed just 25 hits in 31 innings, allowing 23 walks and striking out 30 hitters.
In 17 games in 2010, Valdez dropped his ERA to 2.18 with just eleven hits allowed in 20 2/3 innings, picking up eleven saves and fanning 21 batters. In July, Valdez was suspended for 50 games for violating Major League Baseball's performance enhancing drug policy.
That suspension carried over to the 2011 season and Valdez made only 18 appearances in his third season in the Dominican Summer League. In 19 2/3 innings, Valdez gave up 13 hits and ten walks while punching out 27 hitters for the best strikeout rate of his career.
The Tigers brought Valdez Stateside in 2012 and he has pitched extremely well in the Gulf Coast League. Working as the team's closer, Valdez has picked up ten saves in 15 appearances, backing it up with a 1.29 ERA, 11 hits allowed, just eight walks and 17 strikeouts in 14 innings.
Valdez is a power reliever through and through. Though he lacks an imposing presence on the mound, he is a strong-bodied guy with an assertive approach during games. He isn't afraid to attack hitters and has the right mentality for the late innings.
His fastball sits at 93-94 mph with good life. He can get caught working up in the zone too frequently but he has made strides keeping the ball down and creating better angle to the plate. He can blow his fastball by lower level hitters but will have to locate better against more advanced players.
Valdez compliments his fastball with a slider that typically shows as an average pitch. He can throw his slider for strikes but is still learning to finish the pitch out of the zone for a swing and miss.
With two potential average to above-average pitches, Valdez has the ingredients to work in the seventh or eighth inning of close games. His aggressive mentality and desire to have the ball in his hands can help his raw stuff play up.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP WHIP R
Valdez has not had any significant injuries in his pro career.
With such a dominating performance in the Gulf Coast League, Valdez could get a look with Connecticut before the end of the year. He is already 22-years old and is well behind the developmental curve. Valdez will need to start moving quickly to maintain any significant prospect value.
With the potential for a full-season assignment in 2013, he could impress enough in the late innings to move at least another level. If he reaches his full potential, Valdez has a setup reliever profile.
Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor. Be sure to follow him on twitter @TigsTownMark.