Tigers Scouting Report #17: Jose Valdez

After spending years flying under the radar, Jose Valdez made his presence known in a big way, emerging as the closer and excelling across both A-ball levels. What does Valdez rely on, and what's his future potential?

Jose Valdez

Vitals

Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Date of Birth: 3/1/2990 (2014 Opening Day Age: 24)
Height/Weight: 6-1/200
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Acquired: Amateur Free Agent, 2009
Ranking History: #107 (2010), #133 (2011), #150 (2012), #58 (2013), #17 (2014)

Background: Signed in 2009, Valdez posted a 5.23 ERA in 31 innings before being popped for performance enhancing drugs. In 2010 and 2011 he posted ERAs of 2.18 and 2.23, respectively as he completed three years in the Dominican Summer League. Finally brought stateside in 2012 as a 22-year old, Valdez destroyed the GCL with a 0.82 ERA and over eleven strikeouts per nine innings. His true breakout campaign came in his full-season debut in 2013 with a 2.74 ERA across both A-ball levels while picking up 33 saves.

Performance:

2013 Stats - Pitching
TEAMGGSSVIPHHRRERBBSOHBPERAWHIPW/L
West Mich 2701626.116098203502.731.371-1
Lakeland 2301723.016077143212.741.301-1


Scouting Report

Body: Strong, almost stocky build; excellent strength throughout; broad shoulders that match a broad body; solid legs; not an ideal build but fits his power stuff.

Delivery/Mechanics: Surprisingly sound for his role/stuff; above-average arm speed; consistent to the hand break and then drives hard to the plate; can get caught working uphill a bit at times; when he works down the plane, things fall in line easily; will fall to 1B side on occasion; doesn't really field.

Fastball: Easy 94-96 mph pitch; can reach 97-99 without trouble; will get there frequently during burst outings; FB has very good life; appears to explode on hitters; life loses impact when he's up in the zone; doesn't always generate leverage to the plate and as a result has to consistently work low; pitch can play at plus-plus level; will sit there with more consistency/experience. Grade – Present 6+/Future 7

Slider: Power pitch; consistently 85-86 mph; will reach 87-89 and maintain bite; shows some aptitude for varying velocity and spin rate; sharp breaker that can be wipeout pitch; at best tilt can make pitch unhittable; consistently average but has makings of true swing-and-miss plus pitch. Grade – 5/6

Control/Command: Strikes aren't consistent; no glaring weakness in delivery that prevents control/command from progressing; will have spurts where he pounds lower third of zone; at times completely loses the zone; should approach fringe control with final finishing touches in upper minors; unlikely to consistently pound zone with both pitches night in and night out.

Other: Aggressive mentality; often goes FB first then comes back with SL when ahead in the count; will need to pitch both ways to be effective against high-end hitters; has PED suspension on resume.

Final Word

Summary: Power bullpen arm; FB always plays to plus level and can reach plus-plus with regularity; SL should play to plus; good late inning mentality; has to figure out where his stuff is going to handle high leverage situations.

Risk: Moderate risk; Getting first taste of upper minors; no significant injury history; inherent risk of relief prospects; PED suspension in past.

Projection: Chance to help in Detroit in 2014; impact level stuff with mentality to match; has to harness impressive raw stuff; could handle 8th inning role with control/command improvements; hard throwing middle reliever without control/command improvements.

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