We're almost at the end of our September call-ups series. Here's a look at Pat Valaika, promoted to the Colorado Rockies on September 6th. He's appeared in three games so far with just one at-bat, that one at-bat resulting in a double. Here's the scoop.
Pat Valaika played college baseball at UCLA, playing regularly as a sophomore and junior in 2012 and 2013. He was not a particularly impressive hitter, batting just .254/.330/.364 over 638 at-bats, but he showed some occasional pop and was an effective defender. Drafted in the ninth round in 2013, he hit just .240 in his professional debut in the Northwest League.
He was more impressive in 2014, hitting a combined .299/.345/.461 with 12 homers and 19 steals between Low-A and High-A, albeit with a shaky 33/127 BB/K. He hit just .235/.281/.361 in Double-A in 2015. He improved to .247/.297/.425 in 2016, combining for 14 homers and 10 steals with a 33/123 K/BB.
Valaika is listed at 5-11, 200, a right-handed hitter born September 9th, 1992. As a hitter he can surprise you with occasional power, but his very aggressive hitting approach hampers his OBP and he's never hit for high averages, even back in college. He may struggle to hit .240 in the majors with his current approach.
However, the Rockies are not bringing Valaika to the majors for his bat; the glove is the attraction here. Although his natural range at shortstop is just decent, he is extremely reliable and has superior instincts. His arm is strong enough to handle third base and he's looked excellent all-around when used at second base.
Overall, Valaika's defense should make him a useful bench player. He'll knock some doubles and an occasional home run as well, but would need to improve his eye for the zone and boost his OBP to play regularly for most teams.