Scouting Yankees Prospect #47: Jose Valdez

The New York Yankees assigned pitcher Jose Valdez to the Gulf Coast League Yankees in 2002 after a season of playing for the Yankees Dominican Summer League team. He impressed scouts with his blazing fastball and his unorthodox pitching delivery. It's these reasons that Jose Valdez is our #47 Yankees' prospect.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Jose Valdez
Position: Pitcher
DOB: January 22, 1983
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 190
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Place of Residence: Santo Domingo, DR

At the age of only 18 years old, Jose Valdez played for the Dominican Yankees in the Dominican Summer League for the 2001 season. Despite going 3-4, Valdez put up a spectacular 1.94 ERA over 69.2 innings of work while putting up an almost 5:1 strikeout to walk ratio (50 strikeouts, 11 walks). And, so this would begin a Yankee interest in him that would bring his expectations sky high. The Yankee talent evaluators loved the live arm of the lanky righty hander and his good secondary pitches. He was seen as a highly projectable starting pitcher that could bolt through the system in a hurry. Well, now here in 2004, Valdez still has that same arm with the same talent the Yankees saw in 2001, but did they rush him along too quickly? It is possible, but that certainly doesn't take away from his still great potential.

Once again, Valdez was as impressive with the Gulf Coast Yankees as he was in the Dominican Republic in the season prior. However, as he was in the Dominican, was once again he was victimized by poor run support and was unable to pick up the win total that his statistics showed he deserved. He had a very solid 3.35 ERA in 40.1 innings pitched but had a record of only 1-4. Despite his poor record, people in the organization still saw a very bright future for the then 19-year old and he was granted a promotion to play for the Staten Island Yankees for the remainder of the season. For the first time in his young minor league career, the righthander struggled in Staten Island, posting an ugly 5.40 ERA and putting up a 1-3 record. Even after an poor stint in Staten Island, Valdez was still promoted to Battle Creek for the 2003 season. There, Valdez had a very solid season and led the staff in victories, going 11-7 with a 3.64 ERA in 133 innings pitched. Despite some inconsistency, many scouts and coaches began to call Valdez the leader of the staff. This performance was good enough to earn him an August 7th promotion to Tampa. In Tampa, Valdez did a decent job going 1-1 in his late season stint with the club while posting a decent 4.02 ERA. However, his real chance in High A ball would come in 2004.

Before the 2004 season, Jose Valdez proved that he could pitch and pitch effectively at every level he played at, and at a young age. However, he ran into a brick wall as he started the season for the Tampa Yankees as the projected ace of the staff. But, that changed abruptly as it began to set in that he was having an awful season. "Overall, it was just a really rough season for Jose," his manager, Bill Masse told "He is still pretty young so I think he will be okay though. His strikeouts were way down this year, yes. But, I would say that's because of the loss of the command and feel of his splitter. His split is his out pitch and if he doesn't have that, he is really hurt by that. His fastball is still excellent but he didn't have much command of that this year either. There would be times where he would go out to the mound and look like the Jose Valdez we expect to see. Other times, he looked like a different guy. But, his struggles really just come down to lack of command. I think he will still be in Trenton next season, though," says Masse. Perhaps the Yankees got a little greedy about Valdez, expecting too much, too fast. The bottom line is that he just did not progress as fast as the Yankees predicted. And, with things being thrown around such as calling him a possible "gem" of the system should be considered premature but certainly not impossible for Valdez to accomplish.

The 2004 season was one to forget for Jose Valdez as he struggled with his command, control and strikeouts. Whatever could go wrong did go wrong, badly hurting his prospect status in the process. However, his arm and raw stuff has not changed at all. So, all is not lost by any means. The Yankees will treat him as one of their best prospects in 2005 as he will likely be sent to AA Trenton to start the year. All will be forgotten if he can bounce back from his 2004 sub par performance with a strong 2005 campaign in AA ball.

















* Stats as of 10/1/04

Repertoire. Fastball, Changeup, Curveball, Splitter.

Fastball. Valdez has a power fastball despite a very unorthodox delivery and has very good command of it when he is on. The speed of his fastball is consistently in the 93-97 MPH range. However, his 2004 struggles were almost totally due to lack of command of his fastball. No matter how hard your throw it, the location is still key. Valdez missed with his fastball in the strike zone and out. Jose gets good movement but he absolutely must learn to locate his fastball better.

Other Pitches. Having a very deep repertoire works to the advantage of Valdez for obvious reasons and greatly helps him to add to strikeout totals. However, those strikeout totals dipped in 2004 mostly because of the fact that his command and control were incredibly erratic all year long. He possesses a splitter, curveball, and a changeup besides his power fastball. His changeup is decent enough to keep hitters honest and his curveball also gives right handed hitters fits as it sweeps across the outside part of the plate. The splitter is Jose's out pitch and can be devastating when he was on. But, as his manager stated, he really can't be effective without this pitch. That explains why his strikeout totals dropped dramatically in 2004.

Pitching. Deception is the name of the game when it comes to Jose Valdez. His somewhat "funky" delivery baffles hitters especially when a mid 90's fastball pops out of it. Valdez is twice as tough on right handed with his deceptive delivery and his off speed breaking pitches. But, his deception does not help him if he can't locate his fastball or his out pitch, his splitter. He still has the potential to have electric stuff and be a dominating pitcher, but he simply must get his control and command back of his two best pitches that he seemed to once have.

Projection. With the deep repertoire that he possesses, full of nasty pitches, it seems incredibly possibly that Valdez has a very bright future as a starting pitcher. However, if he doesn't have command of these pitches, especially his explosive fastball and great splitter, success will be far more sparse for him. But, he is yet to turn 22 years old and has time to work out his problems.

ETA. Late 2006. In all likelihood, Valdez will start the 2005 season with Trenton and could possibly be spending the entire season there to let him master the level. Then, he should be headed for AAA Columbus in 2006 if he is able to put together at least a decent 2005 campaign. After that, it is quite possible that he could be in a for a September callup to the Bronx.

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