31 December 2009
4. Danny Valencia, 3B, 25 years old
2009 stats: .284/.373/.482, 252 PA, 7 HR, 40/31 K/BB at New Britain (AA); .286/.305/.454, 282 PA, 7 HR, 37/8 K/BB at Rochester (AAA)
Last year’s rank: 9
Acquired: 19th round selection of the Minnesota Twins in the 2006 draft
Ever since Corey Koskie left the team half a decade ago, Twins fans have been clamoring for Danny Valencia. Although the 25-year-old third baseman doesn’t have as high a ceiling as other highly touted prospects in the organization, the value of consistency is not being overlooked. In his four full minor-league seasons, Valencia has shown a marginal amount of power and a note-worthy ability to get on base.
Although he strikes out more than most would like, Valencia has an above-average glove and is the closest thing to a long-term solution at the Hot Corner than Minnesota fans have known for many years.
Valencia averages just below 15 home runs per season, and combines this power with a steady presence in the batter’s box, reaching base well above the league average. He boasts a quick swing, and has virtually no weak point to his game besides his strikeout tendencies.
Versus left-handed pitchers, Valencia has hit .320/.385/.493, but interestingly enough, has hit nearly four times more home runs in just three times the number of at-bats against right-handers. The combination of power against right-handers and ability to get on base against left-handers makes Valencia an interesting offensive prospect.
Defensively, Valencia has always been regarded as above average. Although he slipped a little at third base during his stint in Rochester, the 24-year-old has consistently saved more runs that he has given up, as the “TotalZone” statistics indicate.
At 25 years of age, Valencia is entering the prime of his career. Although he probably won’t win an MVP award any time soon, Valencia could hit 15 home runs and get on base at an above-average clip every season.
Ideal scenario: Valencia will most likely start the 2010 season in Rochester, but will almost certainly be called up to the major leagues at some point during the season.
Path to the majors: The time frame of this call-up largely depends on whether or not the Twins sign a third-baseman this offseason. If an infielder is brought on, the Twins may choose to allow Valencia a chance to learn on the job, or may give him another year in Triple A. If Minnesota doesn’t address the Hot Corner this offseason, though, there is a chance Valencia could win the job out of Spring Training.