The chest-thumping, high-energy, error-prone second baseman/shortstop/outfielder/pinch-hitter/everything-in-between for the Mets is a Rorschach for observers. Different eyes, with different biases, see different possibilities.
Can Jordany Valdespin be a valuable member for the 2013 squad and beyond? Or is he just another energetic career minor leaguer who hit a few home runs at just the right time?
The 2012 Minor League Baseball Analyst gave Valdespin a 9E rating, meaning he had a 10 percent chance at becoming an elite player. Here’s their write-up on the then-second baseman:
“Lean, strong, and athletic 2B. Plays an aggressive brand of baseball with a fiery temper. Aggressive approach at the plate results in good power, but below average plate discipline. Combines power with plus speed for an exciting package from the left side. He has good tools on defense, but is inconsistent and has not always had the best attitude.”
Valdespin had just posted a superb season at Double-A when this was written, hitting .297 with 15 home runs and a .341 on-base percentage – the best OBP of his minor league career given at least 200 at-bats at a given level. He wasn’t as productive during a 27-game stint at Triple-A (.285 average, 2 home runs). But Valdespin still showed enough promise to merit that 9E rating. Of the 528 position players the Analyst profiled in 2012, just 59 of them earned a “9” designation – 11.1 percent.
After he hit .241 with eight home runs for the big league club in 2012, Valdespin was profiled in the 2013 Baseball Forecaster. By now, that 10 percent probability of becoming an elite player had vanished. Could he even project as an average regular on a non-Houston Astros-type team?
“Was decent source of power and speed in part-time role. But low bb% provides little hope for even a .300 OBP, and SB success rate in minors was less than stellar. Youth provides hope for more growth, but short-term prospects not so promising.”
While Valdespin stole 92 bases in the minors, he did so with just a 67.1 percent success rate. Anything below 75 percent is considered hurting your team. During that great Double-A season he stole 33 bases – but was caught 14 times. With the Mets he stolen 12 bags so far and been caught four times – EXACTLY at the 75 percent threshold in an extremely small sample size.
Meanwhile, his highest walk rate – in the majors or minors – was 6.7 percent (in Single-A). The National League average walk rate in 2012 was eight percent, when Valdespin posted just a 4.9 percent rate.
These days, Valdespin is being looked at strictly as an outfielder. He’s played three games in center (two starts) and two in left. He’s batting 6-for-15 (.400) with a triple, making the most of few plate appearances.
And he continues to make people wonder just what he is and what he can be.