The Minnesota Twins signed Ovalle as a non-drafted free agent on August 4, 2002, and he has since blossomed into a very good outfield prospect for the organization. A decent blend of speed and power, Ovalle is coming off one of his better seasons in professional baseball, and appears ready to take the challenge of Double-A ball head on in 2009.
Ovalle began his professional career during the 2003 season, as he was a member of the Twins Dominican Summer League team. During that campaign, he finished second in the league with nine home runs, as he slugged at his highest clip of his career so far. In only 67 games, Ovalle drove in 37 runs, and had 21 extra-base hits.
The following season, Ovalle would be a member of the Gulf Coast League Twins, appearing in 45 games for the Twins' Rookie League affiliate. Though there was a drop off in his power numbers, Ovalle still hit for a good clip, and looked very good in the field. The Twins saw enough in Ovalle to give him a shot in Elizabethton the next season, and he did not disappoint.
Finishing second in the league in games played, Ovalle put up his best numbers to date in 2005, batting .285, while smacking seven home runs. He helped lead the team to an Appalachian League Championship, playing as the team's everyday centerfielder. He would be ticketed for Beloit the following season.
Getting his first taste of full-season baseball, Ovalle struggled at times in the Midwest League. His .265 batting average was the lowest total he had produced up until that point in his career, though he did tie a career-high with nine home runs. He also began to incorporate the stolen base in his game a bit more, swiping 15 bags over 128 games.
The 2007 season was the most trying in Ovalle's young career, as he played the entire season in the Florida State League with the Fort Myers Miracle. A notoriously pitcher-friendly league, the FSL is a good barometer to see if a prospect is ready to make a jump in his career. Ovalle was overmatched in his first season with the team, batting a career low .222 in 124 games. However, he did not let it get him down, and in 2008 returned to the Miracle for arguably his best season yet.
Over 127 games, Ovalled batted .284, swiped a career-best 17 bags, and hit seven home runs. He was a key cog in the success of the Fort Myers Miracle in 2008, and is now regarded as a legitimate big league prospect in some scouts' eyes. He is slated for New Britain in 2009, and with a good year, will be on everybody's radar.
Batting and Power. Ovalle is a good hitter, but he sometimes struggles facing left-handed pitching. I would rate him as having good gap power, but will not be a home run hitter in his career. He is usually good for around ten home runs a year, but is a very good doubles hitter. He seriously needs to cut down on his strikeouts, as he has whiffed over 100 times in each of the last three seasons.
Baserunning and Speed. Ovalle has good speed, and is usually good for around ten stolen bases a season. He is a heady baserunner who never makes mistakes once he gets on base. One thing he needs to work on is picking the right pitch to steal on, as he has been thrown out over 40 times in a little over 100 attempts.
Defense: Ovalle plays all three outfield positions, and is most suitable the centerfield slot. He has a decent arm, which I would rate as average, but he has above average coverage of the field. He is not going to be a liability at any of the three outfield spots, but I do not feel he has the arm to play right.
ETA. 2011 Ovalle should make his Major League debut sometime during the 2011 season, and it is likely that he will be in Rochester by next season, or possibly this season. His two-year stint in Fort Myers did wonders for his development, and he appears ready to play everyday in the Eastern League. Double-A is the biggest jump in the minor leagues, and usually irons out who is a legitimate prospect, and who is a career minor leaguer.