- One of the less-heralded but quite-interesting rookies to watch in September is Houston Astros left-hander Framber Valdez. Promoted to the majors on August 21st, he’s made two starts and one relief appearance for Houston so far, giving up two earned runs in 14.1 innings with a 10/7 K/BB. Here’s a quick take.
Valdez is a product of Houston’s efforts in Latin America, signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015. He was already 21 years of age, much older than normal for a Dominican signee, but the Astros didn’t let that prejudice their judgment and have a solid prospect as a result.
Valdez ranked 16th on the Houston Astros Top 20 Prospects list for 2018 pre-season, rated as a Grade C+ with this comment:
16) Framber Valdez, LHP, Grade C+: Age 24, signed out of Dominican in 2015 at the old age of 21; posted 2.79 ERA with 73/29 K/BB in 61 innings in High-A but 5.88 ERA, 53/23 K/BB in 49 innings in Double-A; fastball up to 95-96 but curveball and change-up were less effective in Double-A, though K/rate remained solid; some disagreement about whether he starts or relieves in long run, but he’s a lefty who throws hard, he’ll land somewhere. ETA 2019.
He split the 2018 minor league season between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Fresno, posting a combined 4.11 ERA in 103 innings with a 129/32 K/BB, 100 hits allowed, and a 1.98 GO/AO.
He’s listed at 5-11, 175; the 5-11 still looks right but I think he’s added some weight since the official listing. There’s no shortage of arm strength: he’s consistently in the low-90s with his fastball and can get higher when he needs to. The fastball plays up because he pairs it with a plus curveball. His change-up draws weaker reviews but at least gives him a third option when used in the starting role.
Although his ERA wasn’t awesome in the minors this year at 4.11, the more important component ratios were quite good: plenty of strikeouts and grounders, a declining walk rate, just seven homers allowed, an FIP right at 3.00.
There are many things to like here and while Valdez hasn’t received a huge amount of attention outside of Astros circles, he checks off a lot of boxes for future success. Don’t overlook him.