Minnesota Twins recalled 3B Danny Valencia from Triple-A Rochester.
Valencia, 25, might not be long for Minnesota — he’s replacing RF/reluctant 2B Michael Cuddyer (bereavement list) on the active roster. Then again, while Nick Punto has an outstanding glove at third base (career +19.5 UZR/150 in more than 2,000 innings), he’s hitting below even his modest standards. Plus, Brendan Harris‘ all-around poor play has resulted in a sub-replacement level performance. Minnesota has gotten a combined .257 wOBA from its third basemen, a mark of futility topped only by the Astros.
A 19th round pick out of the University of Miami back in 2006, Valencia entered the year ranked as a top 10 Twins prospect by Baseball America (number six), John Sickels (eight) and our own Marc Hulet (three).
Valencia hit well at the lower levels of the minors, batting .302/.374/.500 in 271 Low-A plate appearances and .313/.367/.469 at the High-A level in 501 PA. He continued to show power at Double-A in 2008 and 2009 (.287/.353/.483 in 539 PA), but extra-base hits have been rarer at the highest level of the minors. In 483 PA in the International League over the past two seasons, Valencia has a .289/.321/.421 triple-slash.
BA, Sickels and Marc all noted that Valencia’s plate discipline was rough, and the 6-2, 210 pound righty batter hasn’t done an especially good job of working the count over the years. That aggressiveness at least came with above-average pop in years past. But that hasn’t been the case with Rochester, and he’s hacking even more to boot:
Low-A (age 22): 10.3 BB%, 22.3 K%, .198 ISO
High-A (22-23): 8.6 BB%, 20.2 K%, .156 ISO
Double-A (23-24): 9.1 BB%, 22.7 K%, .196 ISO
Triple-A (24-25): 4.3 BB%, 15.6 K%, .132 ISO
According to Minor League Splits, Valencia’s work between Double-A and Triple-A in 2009 translated to a .248/.285/.389 line in the majors. His tepid 2010 works out to a .255/.302/.324 major league equivalent triple-slash. CHONE (.252/.295/.388 pre-season projection) and ZiPS (.251/.294/.377) forecast similarly mild lines for Valencia in the show.
As a mid-twenties farm talent who doesn’t work many deep counts and doesn’t possess mammoth power, Valencia has the look of a less-than-ideal option as an everyday player in the big leagues. Those in keeper leagues will probably want to look elsewhere, and owners would have to be pretty desperate for third base help to pick him up for the short term.