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Future Redbirds Top 25 Prospects for 2015: #20 - Breyvic Valera

Both Joe and I are big fans of Valera but not too many others agree. I think that's a mistake, given his three tools that are average or better and how well he's hit at every level thus far.

Breyvic Valera
Breyvic Valera

Acquired: IFA, Venezuela - 2010 ($1000)

Birthday: 8/1/1992

Age: 22

Minor League Stops in 2014: Palm Beach A+, Springfield AA

2014 Stats:

570 .311 .359 ..365 .054 6.1 7.0 .330

F-R Grades:

(You can find the primer on the 20-80 grading scale here)

Hit Run Arm Field Power
55/60 65/65 50/50 55/60 30/35

Here's what Joe Schwarz had to say about Valera last August:

All Valera does is hit. In 1,805 minor league plate appearance, the 22-year-old has posted a .316/.369/.398 slash line. He has walked more times (133) than he has struck out (126). In fact, his 2014 K% is a ridiculously minuscule 5.8%. Okay, he does more than just hit. According to Baseball America, Valera was rated this season's best defensive second baseman in the Florida State League (High-A). He has received time at third base (26 career starts), in the outfield (63 career starts), and at shortstop (43 career starts), but offensively and defensively, he projects as a second baseman at the higher levels.

He does not have much power (3 career home runs), but he doesn't need it in order to provide value to the organization given his unbelievably high contact rate, his ability to get on base (.369 OBP), and his plus glove at second base.

I pretty much agree with everything in those two paragraphs, with the exception of the future projections as a second baseman -- I think it's likely Valera never has any specific position that he plays, but rather gets a lot of time at a bunch of different positions as a super utility player.

The F-R Daily Farm Report crew termed Valera "Mr. Consistent" during the 2014 season and with good reason: Nearly every time he showed up in the box score he was rapping a of base hit (or two, or three, or sometimes even four). Another good nickname would probably be "Leatherman", after the brand of excellent multitools. That describes Valera's skillset the best: The guy with the tool for every situation:

  • Switch hitter, slightly favors the right side (about 60 points of OPS), but is a career .300 hitter from both sides of the plate.
  • Has logged 20 or more games at 4 different positions in his minor league career: 2B, 3B, SS, and LF. Valera plays second base best, and as Joe points out, was a highly respected defender there in the Florida State League. He's not D.J. Lamehieu at the keystone, so it's unlikely that he can get to the big leagues on defense alone, but he's better than average at 2B and along with his utility should be good enough to get a look as a bench player at the very least.
  • Valera will get to the show based on whether his hit tool continues to play as he gets to higher levels of the minors. In 2014, he walked more than he struck out, and his career numbers reflect this skill (7.2% K, 6.9% BB in 1646 PA's).  He makes a ton of contact, and while he doesn't have much power, his plus speed will turn some singles into doubles and a few well placed ground balls into hits, as you can see here against Top 20 pitching prospect Tyler Glasnow in the Arizona Fall League:

Here's a look at him batting right handed, and basically doing very much the same thing he did in the last clip:

That's probably the worse defense I've seen from a professional SS in any video clip this season, but even had he been able to field the ball he would have had a tough time throwing out Valera. Those are the type of hits that won't carry forward to AAA and MLB as the defenders are much better and actually give top effort most of the time.

2015 Outlook:

Will Valera be a .300 hitter in the big leagues?  I'd say that the odds are against it and given his lack of power I think he'll struggle to draw a similar amount of walks as pitchers fill up the strike zone against him. I would expect him to start with Springfield in 2015 (with Jacob Wilson being the everyday 2B in Memphis) to get a bit more seasoning with a possible promotion to Memphis at the halfway mark, but not necessarily at 2B. I think it's likely that Valera will replace Scott Moore at 3B with the Redbirds should his bat carry him up a level given that Breyvic is a prospect and Moore really isn't at this point in his career.

Valera's ability to hit and defend at multiple positions is certainly his ticket, but it would be nice if his speed could play more on the bases than it currently does (career 59.8% success rate on stolen bases). Just about every team in the big leagues has room for a multi-position bench player who can play every station on the infield, put the ball in play, and run the bases well in late game situations. Players who can contribute in that way are seemingly undervalued as prospects a lot of the time and I think that's certainly the case here.

Overall Grade: C+