Position: Right-Handed Pitcher
Date of Birth: 3/1/1990 (2014 Opening Day Age: 26)
Acquired: Amateur Free Agent, 2009
Ranking History: #133 (2011), #150 (2012), #58 (2013), #17 (2014), #22 (2015), #24 (2016)
Background: Signed prior to the 2009 season, Valdez spent three years in the Dominican Summer League harnessing his raw stuff before pitching for the GCL Tigers in 2012 where he posted a 0.82 ERA in 22 innings. He breezed through both A-ball levels in 2013, combining for a 2.77 ERA and 33 saves with over 12 strikeouts per nine innings. In 2014, the Tigers pushed the 24-year old right-hander to Double-A Erie where he was solid in his first taste of advanced competition. Valdez made his big league debut with a solid seven appearances in Detroit last summer, on the heels of posting a 3.32 ERA in 57 innings with Triple-A Toledo.
Body: Stocky build; strong frame with good muscle throughout; barrel chest and very strong legs; limited physical projection.
Delivery/Mechanics: High energy with some effort; still learning to repeat everything from the balance point to release; overthrows and loses arm slot consistently; very quick arm; not a premium athlete, but athletic enough to make strides with repetition if the necessary focus exists; potential for solid delivery but will always have effort.
Fastball: Consistently pumps 94-95 mph; regularly finds 97-98 mph in game situations; FB has explosive velocity out of high energy delivery; some deception because of energy/effort in delivery; ball can jump on hitters; good life when thrown down in the zone; maddeningly inconsistent ability to throw in or near the strike zone; near plus-plus heater that could play to that level with greater mechanical consistency; currently plays down as a result of control woes. Grade – Present 6/Future 7
Slider: Can show as above-average to plus offering when mechanics are consistet; thrown 84-85 mph with tight, hard spin at its best; can run it up to 87-89 mph when he gets amped up; true power slider with swing and miss potential; second plus pitch if things click. Grade – 5+/6
Control/Command: Struggled mightily with strike throwing in 2015; delivery was inconsistent from spring training until the bitter end of the season; long stretches where the player completely lost the strike zone; overthrew consistently when things got tough, and control worsened when this happened; must dial it back to find strike zone, even if end result doesn’t lead to command improvement.
Other: Aggressive mentality on the mound; has to refine approach on mound against advanced competition; doesn’t hold runners well; suspension for PEDs on his resume (2010).
Summary: Power reliever with little nuance to his game; can show plus-plus raw velocity at times, but movement and control backed up considerably in 2015; SL is above-average pitch with plus potential; relishes attacking hitters with power two-pitch combo; entire game needs consistency.
Risk: High risk; Lack of control/nuance against advanced bats a concern; significant flame-out potential.
Projection: Definitely needs another tour through Triple-A in 2016; control and approach development are vital to long-term success; should see time in MLB again in 2015; improvements in focus areas could lead to potential 7th inning role; ceiling has dropped from previous setup role.