On Tuesday the Oakland Athletics promoted right-handed pitcher Cesar Valdez to the majors. He appeared in one game for the A’s earlier this year, making a start on April 20th against the Seattle Mariners before being sent back to Triple-A Nashville, but now he is up in the majors again. Here’s a quick summary.
Valdez is certainly unusual as rookies go: he is already 32 years old. Originally signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks back in 2005 from the Dominican Republic, Valdez was a steady and successful performer who put up good numbers until reaching Triple-A Reno in 2009. He mostly struggled in the Pacific Coast League although he did get a brief taste of major league action with Arizona, posting a 7.65 ERA in 20 innings in 2010 although retaining his rookie status.
He ended up in the Mexican League eventually, pitching for Vaqueros de la Laguna in 2012 and 2013. He had an excellent 2015 season with Tabasco, posting a 2.63 ERA in 161 innings with a 161/28 K/BB, which got him renewed attention from MLB organizations. He signed with the Houston Astros in 2016 and posted a terrific 114/13 K/BB in 138 innings in Triple-A with a 3.12 ERA, then moved on to Oakland for 2017. He has 12/0 K/BB in 10 innings so far for Triple-A Nashville this season.
Valdez is 6-2, 200, born March 17th, 1985. As you may expect from his history, he does not throw hard, topping out at 90 MPH with the four-seam fastball. What he does have is excellent control and a wide assortment of secondary pitches including a slider, a change-up, a curve, and two-seam fastball to give hitters a different look. He has a keen sense for pitching honed over many years in the high-offense Pacific Coast and Mexican Leagues and you have to give him points for dedication.