On September 5th the St. Louis Cardinals promoted infielder Breyvic Valera to the major league roster. He was sent back down to Triple-A Memphis on September 11th in order to help the Redbirds in the Pacific Coast League post-season, then was brought back to the major leagues on September 21st. Valera had an impressive season in Triple-A and should be in the mix for a bench role in 2018. Let’s take a look.
Valera has been in the Cardinals system a long time: he was signed out of Venezuela back in 2010. He proved a consistent .300 hitter at the lower levels, hitting .311 in 2011, .316 in 2012, .309 in 2013, .313 in 2014, similar numbers at every level until reaching Double-A in 2015 when he slumped to .236. Since he didn’t offer much power or speed his batting averages were rather empty, so when he ran into better pitching and slumped he didn’t look to have much value.
He got off to another so-so start with Double-A Springfield in 2016, hitting just .258/.289/.298 in 178 at-bats, but after moving up to Triple-A Memphis he was much better, hitting .341/.417/.415 in 217 at-bats. Pre-season, I had Valera rated as a Grade C+ prospect although not quite making the St. Louis Cardinals Top 20 prospects for 2017.
2017 was Valera’s best season yet: .314/.368/.450 with Memphis, including career-best marks in SLG due to 22 doubles and eight homers (both also career-highs). He drew 38 walks against only 34 strikeouts in 424 at-bats, maintaining his contact ability while showing more power.
Valera is 5-11, 175 pounds, a switch-hitter born January 8th, 1992. He’s always done a terrific job making contact but lacked the strength to drive the ball consistently. This hampered him when he first reached the high minors but over the last year and a half he’s shown more strength and pop without losing his feel for the strike zone.
His other tools aren’t excellent: average speed, average arm, average range. He can be aggressive on the bases and run himself into outs. However, with the glove he is polished and versatile, with minor league experience at every position on the field except catcher and pitcher. He’s best at second base but is viable at shortstop and third and even the corner outfield spots.
Valera fits the utility profile but he could last awhile in the role.