I was thinking about the next player to write up, and Valle seemed like a great case. Always young for each league he’s played in, Valle had his best season in 2011 and performed very well in the pitcher friendly Florida State League, posting a line of .284/.312/.394, and that line may have been higher if he hadn’t worn down a bit in the hot summer sun over the last 6 weeks or so. Early in his career, Valle was considered an offensive first prospect whose future behind the dish was a bit uncertain. Over the last 2 seasons however, his athleticism and instincts have helped him improve tremendously defensively, and he now looks like no worse than an average defensive catcher with significant upside. He has a strong arm, and though he is still adding polish to his defensive game, all the tools are there. The question now is what is his offensive upside? Here is his career ledger
32-33% caught stealing is solid enough, he cut down on his errors significantly, and the last piece is refining his ability to block pitches in the dirt. Offensively, his walk rate tanked and his K rate went up a tad, which means part of his batting average was definitely BABIP induced luck. Its important to remember the threshold for catchers in baseball. The average three slash line for all major league catchers in 2011 in the major leagues was .245/.313/.389. That’s putrid, obviously, and you only have to scan major league rosters to find guys who, if they played another position, would have been out of baseball years ago because they can’t hit their way out of a wet paper bag. Valle could struggle in AA, especially against quality offspeed stuff. The Phillies are probably anticipating this, and are fine with this, as long as he plays solid defense, which is going to be a requirement for him making it to the big leagues and contributing.
So, what do you expect from Valle in 2012 at Reading?