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3B Daniel Valencia - What's His ETA?

The Twins selected 3B Daniel Valencia (Miami U) with pick 576 in the 19th round of the 2006 MLB Amateur Draft. Valencia played two seasons for the Hurricanes, after playing a season with University of North Carolina-Greensboro. After posting a .910 OPS with UNC-Greensboro in 2004, he posted back to back .825+ OPS seasons with the Hurricanes while playing 1B in 2005 before moving to 3B full-time in 2006.

After signing with the Twins, Valencia reported to the Twins rookie affiliate Elizabethton, and responded with a .311/.365/.505 line in his first taste of pro ball, splitting time at 1B and 3B. The Twins rewarded his fine wood-bat debut by promoting him to Beloit to start 2007, where he managed an equally impressive .302/.374/.500 line through 242 at bats that earned him an in-season promotion to Fort Myers.

This is where a key theme begins with Valencia. Valencia closed out his first taste of high-A ball with a .291/.332/.422 line, with a 48/16 K to BB ratio. With this good, but not great line in his first trip through high-A, the Twins sent him back to Fort Myers to begin the 2008 season. Valencia responded with his finest effort to date, posting a spectacular .336/.402/.518 line in 220 at bats, with an improved 43/27 K to BB ratio. This prompted a move to New Britain for Valencia.

Again, Valencia posted a good line of .289/.334/.485 in his first AA go-round to close out 2008. Again, Valencia struggled to control the strike zone, with a K to BB ratio of 70/18. And again, Valencia was asked to repeat a level to begin the 2009 minor league season. Valencia's second trip through New Britain didn't provide more power, but a much better K to BB rate (40/31, which helped provide a vastly improved .089 isolated OBP mark) with a line of .284/.373/.482.

Now, onto Valencia's 2009 AAA experience. Similar to how he performed in his first trips through high-A and AA, Valencia had trouble controlling the strike zone with a .286/.305/.454 line and 37/8 K to BB ratio. Valencia himself admitted on "Seth Speaks Weekly Podcast" that he didn't feel he controlled the zone as well as he usually does, and that he sometimes got caught up in swinging too early in at-bats, leaving him with fewer hitter's counts and fewer walks.

With his minor league pattern in mind, it's possible, if not probable that he'll be ready for major league duty sometime near mid-season, which would coincide with keeping him under team control for longer. Assuming Valencia can develop a better control of the strike zone, and play at least adequate 3B defense, the Twins opted not look to the free agent market for a target like Chone Figgins, Adrian Beltre, or Pedro Feliz, who opted for multiple years and more money than the Twins would have been comfortable handing over.

Daniel Valencia, 3B
ETA: Mid-to-late 2010


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