Acquired: IFA, Venezuela - 2010 ($1000)
Minor League Stops in 2014: Palm Beach A+, Springfield AA
(You can find the primer on the 20-80 grading scale here)
Here's what Joe Schwarz had to say about Valera last August:
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: