There were high expectations for the Indians’ George Valera entering 2019, with many expecting him to be the breakout prospect of the season. Instead the 18-year old (he won’t turn 19 until November) fell flat, posting these underwhelming marks:
- Low-A (188 PA) – .236 with 8 HR, 29 RBI, 22 R and 6 SB
- Single-A (26 PA) – .087 with 0 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R and 0 SB
It’s an ugly number, though you could argue that the assignment was aggressive for a player of his age and experience (he had played just 6 games of Rookie Ball in 2018). He did show some patience at the plate, with a 14.5% walk rate, though a 28.5% strikeout rate courtesy of a 13.4% SwStr% looms large.
Considering this scouting report from MLB.com it’s easy to give him at least a slight pass in that regard:
Valera has the best stroke in a system full of pretty swings, displaying looseness, rhythm and balance from the left side of the plate. He also has a mature approach and a knack for drawing walks along with making contact to all fields.
Obviously his age and level were a factor, though it’s something that we’ll have to continue to monitor as he grows/advances. With the ability to draw a walk you would expect the strikeouts to improve, and that would go a long way towards a rebound.
There also is the potential for growth in terms of his power, having added 7 doubles and 2 triples to go with the 8 HR he hit. He’s still young and with his stroke the power should also grow with time. It’s not there yet, considering this scouting report from Baseball America prior to the season:
His feel for the barrel, bat-to-ball skills, pitch recognition and discipline all help him make consistent, hard contact and give him the kind of hitting ability the Indians covet. He has above-average raw power and gets to it in games well, though he has more of a hit-over-power profile.
There’s a reason he was highly hyped heading into the season and despite his struggles in ’19 he’s young and developing. One year older and with some actual professional experience under his belt, don’t be surprised to see him take a meteoric leap forward in 2020. Those in dynasty formats would be well served to target him over the offseason, as the rewards could be huge.
Sources – MILB.com, MLB.com, Baseball America, Fangraphs