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 has continued to hit ever since.
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.
If the Twins were happy with his first season, they must be ecstatic now, as Valencia has mashed at all levels. In 2007, Valencia split time between Beloit and Fort Myers, earning mid-season Midwest League All-Star honors. He batted .302 for the Snappers, with 11 home runs in only 66 games, and he slugged at a .500 clip.
For the Miracle, Valencia did not miss a beat, batting .291 in the pitcher friendly Florida State League. His six home runs gave him 17 for the season, though he did struggle with the glove. He was named the league's Player of the Week once, and finished the year as one of the top prospects in the organization.
In 2008, Valencia returned to the Florida State League, but he would not be there long. The budding slugger batted a ridiculous .336 for the Miracle, and was named to the league's mid-season All-Star team. Proving he had nothing left to prove in the FSL, Valencia was promoted to New Britain, where he hit .289 in his first taste of the Eastern League.
Valencia sat down with TwinCitiesDugout.com this past fall. Danny Valencia TCD Interview
In the off-season, Valencia helped lead the Phoenix Desert Dogs to the Arizona Fall League championship, and will return to the Eastern League in 2009.
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.
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, but is only good for a handful at the professional level. 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.
ETA. 2009. Valencia has made a steady rise through the Twins organization, and is on the cusp of making a Major League roster. He has proven he can hit at any level, and hit for power, and should make it to Rochester at some point during the 2009 season. I believe the Twins will call up Valencia at some point this year, possibly when the rosters expand in September. He is the best infield prospect in the organization, and Twins fans are very excited to see him in Minnesota soon.