Name: Danny Valencia
Position: Third Baseman
DOB: September 19, 1984
The Twins selected Danny Valencia in the 19th round of the 2006 draft, selecting the young infielder out of the University of Miami. Valencia played his college ball at both the University of Miami and the UNC-Greensboro, batting well over .300 during his collegiate days. A gap hitter with power, Valencia had a great first season with the Twins in 2006, and is slated to get his first taste of full-season ball in 2007.
During his high school days, Valencia played his ball at Spanish River High School. He was a three-time All-Palm Beach County honoree, and also received second-team All-State honors.
Valencia began his collegiate career at UNC Greensboro, appearing in 55 games during his freshman season. He smacked eight home runs, drove in 37 runs, and scored 39 times. After his freshman season, Valencia transferred to the University of Miami, and stepped right in for the Hurricanes.
During his freshman year with UNC Greensboro, Valencia was also named Southern Conference Freshman of the Year.
Valencia hit .300 during his first season with the Canes, driving in better than a run per game. Of his 68 hits, 24 of them went for extra bases, and he even swiped nine bags. Valencia began to really produce as an overall hitter, using the whole field, and he only struck out 23 times in 60 games.
In his final season with the Hurricanes, Valencia batted .324, and set a career-high with nine home runs. Once again he proved to be a great run producer, driving in 61 runs in 62 games, and ended his Hurricanes career with 124 RBI in 122 games. He also set a career-high with 47 runs, and slugged at a .475 clip.
Valencia was originally assigned to the Elizabethton Twins, and ended the season on the Appalachian League All-Star Team, joining closer Danny Hernandez. As the team's third baseman, Valencia batted .311 for the Twins, and smacked an impressive eight home runs in only 48 games. He was the main bat in the Twins lineup, and established himself as a major player in the Twins infield plans.
Batting and Power: Valencia has a great bat, and his batting eye is improving everyday. He can hit the ball to all fields, and has the potential to be a guy who could end up hitting 15 home runs a season, maybe 20. He finds gaps, and is an extra-base hit threat every time he comes up to the plate. He also has a knack for driving in runs in bunches, and if he can cut down on his strikeouts, then he should be able to hit .300 at the higher levels as well.
Base running and Speed. Valencia has decent speed, but he is not a blazer. He has racked up a fair share of stolen bases during his collegiate career, though he did not swipe a bag during his time with Elizabethton last season. He is also a heady base runner, who can put pressure on the defense with his overall skills.
Defense. Valencia has the ability to play either corner infield position, and he even played some shortstop in high school and at UNC Greensboro. He is pretty slick with the glove, and has a good arm. His ability to play all the infield positions is really going to help him move up the ladder, and he may be able to move over to shortstop if one is needed at higher levels.
ETA. 2009. Valencia is bound to make a smooth rise through the Twins organization. With his ability to play defense, and his pop in his bat, Valencia is going to be looked at whenever an infielder is needed. Some scouts believe that he should have went in the first ten rounds, and the Twins were lucky to get a player of his caliber that late. He'll get his first taste of full-season baseball during the 2007 season, and it will be interesting to see how he adapts to the challenge. If all goes well, Valencia could be in Fort Myers by the end of the season.