League Top 20 Prospects

2012 New York-Penn League Top 20 Prospects With Scouting Reports




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See also: 2012 New York-Penn League Top 20 Prospects Chat With Aaron Fitt
See also: Complete 2012 League Top 20 Prospects Schedule
FIVE YEARS AGO
*1. Brett Cecil, lhp, Auburn (Blue Jays)
*2. Joe Savery, lhp, Williamsport (Phillies)
3. Hector Correa, rhp, Jamestown (Marlins)
*4. Daniel Moskos, lhp, State College (Pirates)
*5. Jordan Zimmerman, rhp, Vermont (Nationals)
*6. Ryan Kalish, of, Lowell (Red Sox)
*7. J.P. Arencibia, c, Auburn (Blue Jays)
*8. Oscar Tejeda, ss, Lowell (Red Sox)
9. Glenn Gibson, lhp, Vermont (Nationals)
*10. Dellin Betances, rhp, Staten Island (Yankees)
11. Colton Willems, rhp, Vermont (Nationals)
*12. Yamaico Navarro, ss/3b, Lowell (Red Sox)
*13. Jess Todd, rhp, Batavia (Cardinals)
14. Duke Welker, rhp, State College (Pirates)
*15. Domonic Brown, of, Williamsport (Phillies)
16. Nick Carr, rhp, Brooklyn (Mets)
17. Damon Sublett, 2b, Staten Island Yankees
*18. Zach McAllister, rhp, Staten Island Yankees
19. Michael McCormick, c, Hudson Valley (Devil Rays)
20. Brant Rustich, rhp, Brooklyn (Mets)
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement made negotiations with drafted players a simpler process, causing many college draftees to sign earlier than in the past and get started on their pro careers in the short-season New York-Penn League. First-round picks like Hudson Valley third baseman Richie Shaffer, Lowell shortstop Deven Marrero and Mahoning Valley outfielder Tyler Naquin might not have signed until mid-August under the old system, but this year they logged enough time in the NY-P to qualify for this list.

There was a solid collection of college talent in the league, but young power pitchers like Hudson Valley's Taylor Guerrieri and Jeff Ames and State College's Luis Heredia stood out most against older competition. The NY-P featured a nice blend of pitchers, up-the-middle talents and corner bats with power potential. The prospect crop was deeper than usual, even without players such as Vermont shortstop Addison Russell, Aberdeen righthander Kevin Gausman and Lowell lefty Brian Johnson spending enough time in the league to qualify for this list.

League champion Hudson Valley placed three players in the top eight and four on the Top 20. Brooklyn, which led the league with a 2.62 ERA, also landed four players on the list, and several of its other power arms were in contention.

1. Taylor Guerrieri, rhp, Hudson Valley Renegades
Age: 19  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 195  Drafted: Spring Valley HS, Columbia, S.C., 2011 (1st round).
Regarded as one of the best arms in the 2011 draft, Guerrieri slipped to the 24th overall pick in part because of maturity questions, and signed for $1.6 million. He maintained his focus on and off the mound in his pro debut this summer, and while he didn't bump 98 mph like he did in high school, he still worked at 90-95 mph with his two-seam fastball. Even when it sat at 90-92, one scout graded it as a plus pitch because of its hard, late sink, armside run and deception, not to mention his ability to spot it at the knees to both corners.

"Just the pitchability at 19 years of age is impressive," Hudson Valley manager Jared Sandberg said. "He's got a different maturity level on the mound. He's a competitor and he knows how to pitch."

Guerrieri works primarily with his sinker, though he also mixes in a four-seam fastball with riding life. He shows a plus downer curveball at 77-81 mph with good depth, giving him a swing-and-miss pitch against righties or lefties. He also has good control of an average changeup that has a chance to become a plus pitch as he starts to use it more.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
1 2 1.04 12 12 0 52 35 7 6 0 5 45 .183

2. Luis Heredia, rhp, State College Spikes
Age: 17  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-6 Wt.: 205  Signed: Mexico '10.
Signed for $2.6 million in 2010, Heredia shined the against much older competition as the youngest pitcher in the league this summer (he didn't turn 18 until August). His combination of youth, size, projectability and current stuff made him stand out in a league loaded with lower-ceiling college products. He also has an innate feel for pitching and a strong competitive fiber.

At 6-foot-6, Heredia gets good downward plane on a 90-93 mph fastball that bumps 95 at times. When his delivery stays in sync, he can pound the bottom of the strike zone, but he's still growing into his body and still learning to repeat his mechanics consistently.

Heredia has the makings of a swing-and-miss curveball with downer break. He also has good feel for a deceptive changeup with plenty of sinking action, though it's a little firmer than the Pirates would like at this stage. If everything comes together, he could have three plus pitches.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
4 2 2.71 14 14 0 66 53 22 20 2 20 40 .210

3. Roman Quinn, ss, Williamsport Crosscutters
Age: 19  B-T: B-R  Ht.: 5-10 Wt.: 170  Drafted: Port St. Joe (Fla.) HS, 2011 (2nd round).
Signed for $775,000 just hours before the Aug. 15 deadline in 2011, Quinn made his pro debut this summer and showcased a dynamic tools package against older competition in the NY-P this summer. Taking full advantage of his top-of-the-line speed, Quinn recorded more than twice as many triples (11) as any other player in the league and also led the circuit in runs (56) and steals (30).

Quinn is still new to switch-hitting and remains more advanced from his natural right side, but he made considerable progress from the left side this year, driving a couple of balls to the wall in left field. He has good bat speed and hand-eye coordination, giving him a chance to be an average to plus hitter with gap power as he matures. He'll need to cut down his strikeout rate and improve his bunting skills to increase his value as a tablesetter, but his pitch recognition is improving, as his defense at shortstop, where he has solid range and a plus arm.

"Obviously he's going to get to a lot of balls that a lot of people don't because of his speed and quickness," Williamsport manager Andy Tracy said. "He's learning to make plays from different body positions, the depth of the play through the infield, charging the ball, taking command of popups—everything a shortstop has to do, he was starting to get a feel for. Obviously he has to go a long way still, but he's made real progress."
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
267 56 75 9 11 1 23 28 61 30 6 .281 .370 .408

4. Richie Shaffer, 3b, Hudson Valley Renegades
Age: 21  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 210  Drafted: Clemson, 2012 (1st round).
Considered by some clubs to be the top all-around college bat in the 2012 draft, Shaffer signed for $1.71 million as the 25th overall pick. He impressed both offensively and defensively in a half-season in the NY-P, highlighted by a game-winning, three-run homer in the eighth inning of Game Two of the championship series.

Shaffer's plus righthanded power potential is his calling card. He has an loose, handsy swing and can pull towering homers to left field or drive the ball out of the park to right-center with ease. He gets in trouble when he tries to do too much and chases pitches out of the zone, but he does have the ability to recognize and take offspeed pitches, and he did a better job attacking hittable fastballs down the stretch.

Scouts weren't sold on Shaffer as a third baseman in college, but he demonstrated improved footwork, body control and anticipation at Hudson Valley. He has a plus arm and can make throws from various arm slots, giving him a real chance to stick at the hot corner. A good athlete, he also handles himself ably on the basepaths, though he's no better than a fringy runner.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
117 25 36 5 2 4 26 16 31 0 0 .308 .406 .487

5. Luis Mateo, rhp, Brooklyn Cyclones
Age: 22  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 185  Signed: Dominican Republic '11.
Mateo originally signed with the Giants for $625,000 in 2008, when he presented himself as a 16-year old. That contract was voided when a physical revealed bone chips in his right elbow, and a $300,000 deal with the Padres that fall never went through because it turned out he was misrepresenting his age. MLB suspended him for a year, but the Mets stayed on him and signed him for $150,000 in April 2011.

His U.S. debut this summer was worth the wait, as Mateo led the NY-P with 85 strikeouts and ranked second with a 9.4 K-BB ratio. He's a true power pitcher who sits at 92-95 mph and touches 96 regularly, with good angle on his fastball. His very hard, late-breaking slider is an out pitch that projects as a plus offering.

Mateo also has some feel for a changeup but uses it sparingly at this stage. Though excels at pounding the strike zone, he's still refining his command and learning the finer points of pitching, such as pitch sequencing.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
4 5 2.45 12 12 0 73 57 22 20 2 9 85 .206

6. Patrick Wisdom, 3b, Batavia Muckdogs
Age: 20  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 210  Drafted: St. Mary's, 2012 (1st round supplemental).
After a strong sophomore season at St. Mary's, Wisdom led the summer Alaska League in homers and generated first-round buzz. Many scouts continued to believe in him even after he slumped to .262 as a junior this spring, and the Cardinals took him with the No. 52 overall pick. He impressed NY-P observers with his all-around game in his strong pro debut.

Wisdom has a sound righthanded swing but gets in trouble at times when he tries to muscle up. If his approach continues to mature, he can be an average hitter and tap into his plus raw power. He's also a good athlete with fringy speed, though he isn't a basestealer.

Wisdom's range, instincts and actions give him a chance to be a plus defender at third base. His above-average arm is accurate, helping him make some very difficult plays to his right.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
241 40 68 16 5 6 32 31 58 2 1 .282 .373 .465

7. Deven Marrero, ss, Lowell Spinners
Age: 21  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 194  Drafted: Arizona State, 2012 (1st round).
Once considered a candidate for the No. 1 overall pick, Marrero hit .284/.340/.436 at Arizona State this spring, causing some scouts to question his bat. But he was also the safest bet to stay at shortstop of any player in the draft, so the Red Sox were thrilled to land him with the 24th overall pick and sign him for $2.05 million. He showed off a solid all-around tools package in his pro debut, with his defense remaining his calling card.

"He was born to play the infield," Lowell manager Bruce Crabbe said. "He's got all the actions of a shortstop, he's got arm strength, he plays on the run well. He positions himself well defensively—he's not scared out there. His instincts jump out."

Offensively, Marrero stays inside the ball well with a line-drive, gap-to-gap stroke, and he flashes occasional power to his pull side. He controls the strike zone well and excels at working counts, and he could become an average hitter if he he can smooth out a little hitch in the back of his swing. He's a solid runner with good first-step quickness and baserunning instincts.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
246 45 66 14 3 2 24 34 48 24 6 .268 .358 .374

8. Jeff Ames, rhp, Hudson Valley Renegades
Age: 21  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 225  Drafted: Lower Columbia (Wash.) JC, 2011 (1st round supplemental).
Ames posted a 7.12 ERA in the Rookie-level Appalachian League after getting drafted 42nd overall last year, but he still ranked as the league's No. 16 prospect thanks to his raw stuff. He did a better job of using it this summer, overpowering NY-P hitters and ranking fourth in the league with 70 strikeouts.

Ames works downhill and pitches inside aggressively with his fastball. His bread and butter is a 93-95 mph four-seamer with fair movement, and he started throwing an 89-93 mph sinker midway through the year. He improved his fastball command down in the zone by working over his front leg more and staying in sync better than he did a year ago.

Ames' No. 2 pitch is an 83-88 mph slider that projects as a solid offering, though it sometimes flattens out when he gets on the side of it. His changeup is currently below average currently but he started throwing it with more conviction in the second half of the season, inducing weak contact against lefties.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
6 1 1.96 14 13 0 64 44 21 14 1 20 70 .186

9. Danry Vasquez, of, Connecticut Tigers
Age: 18  B-T: L-R  Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 169  Signed: Venezuela '10. 
The Tigers surprised many international scouts by signing Vasquez for a $1.2 million bonus in 2010, their largest-ever expenditure for a Venezuelan amateur. He has proven precocious in his first two pro seasons, though he struggled as an 18-year-old in low Class A at the start of this season before leading the league with 90 hits.

"For 18 years old, he has an advanced batting approach," Connecticut manager Andrew Graham said. "On 0-2 he has a great approach—he can spray the ball from line to line. He's got a great ability to put the bat on the ball, no matter where it is. It's one of those uncanny things."

Vasquez has quiet hands and a short, compact stroke, giving him a knack for making consistent, hard contact. He has wiry strength and quick hands, plus good leverage and loft in his swing, giving him a chance to be a solid hitter with solid power as he fills out his lean frame. A slightly below-average runner who profiles as a left fielder, he has a long way to go defensively but has a solid arm.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
289 36 90 16 2 2 35 13 45 6 4 .311 .341 .401

10. Barrett Barnes, of, State College Spikes
Age: 20  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 195  Drafted: Texas Tech, 2012 (1st round supplemental)
Barnes' blend of power (34 home runs in three years) and speed (50 steals in 56 tries) made him the second-highest-drafted player in Texas Tech history, and he signed for $1 million after going 45th overall in June. He earned NY-P all-star honors before a stress-related shin injury ended his season a month early.

With his electric bat speed, Barnes has a chance to develop above-average power to his pull side. He also has a patient approach and a good feel for the strike zone, making him a walk machine. His swing can get rotational, however, so scouts aren't convinced he'll hit for average.

Barnes has above-average speed underway and is a savvy baserunner. His speed gives him a chance to stick in center field, where his arm is average. He also should have enough power to hold down left field if he winds up having to move.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
125 16 36 6 0 5 24 17 21 10 6 .288 .401 .456

11. Brandon Nimmo, of, Brooklyn Cyclones
Age: 19  B-T: L-R  Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 185  Drafted: East HS, Cheyenne, Wyo., 2011 (1st round).
Nimmo is still raw, as might be expected for the first player ever drafted in the first round out of Wyoming (which has no high school baseball). He struggled mightily at the beginning and end of the NY-P season, but in between he flashed the potential that earned him a $2.1 million bonus.

"His character is plus-plus-plus-plus. I've never seen a kid like him, and I never will," Brooklyn manager Rich Donnelly said. "He keeps a notebook in the dugout after every at-bat. You can't get him down, you can't discourage him. Mentally he's the strongest kid I've ever seen—ever."

While Nimmo sees a lot of pitches, making him a good fit in the leadoff spot, the Mets would like him to be a little more aggressive and take fewer strikes. He hit .279 against righthanders but just .191 against lefties, though he made progress against southpaws during the season. His bat speed is special, giving him big-time power potential, though he's still learning to unlock it.

Considered a plus runner as an amateur, Nimmo showed below-average to fringy speed this summer and needs a lot of work on his basestealing. His center-field defense is also raw, as he tends to break back on balls before coming in. He has an average arm.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
266 41 66 20 2 6 40 46 78 1 5 .248 .372 .406

12. Hansel Robles, rhp, Brooklyn Cyclones
Age: 21  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 185  Signed: Dominican Republic '08.
Brooklyn's staff was loaded with strike-throwing power pitchers. Robles made the biggest improvement from the start of the year to the end, allowing just two unearned runs in 33 innings in August and leading the NY-P in ERA (1.11) and WHIP (0.78).

"In March, he was a loose cannon on the mound—you never knew what he'd do," Donnelly said. "He'd throw 3-2 changeups to the No. 9 hitter with a five-run lead. He didn't even know how to spell composure. By the end of the year, he threw strikes, worked the quickest and changed speeds, and his composure was A-plus. I've never seen a guy grow up that quick. In my mind he was as good as anybody I've ever seen at that level."

Robles pitches off a 92-96 mph fastball with sink, spotting it effectively to both sides. While he has some some success getting hitters to chase his 83-85 mph slider out of the zone, it lacks depth at times. He showed limited feel for his mid-80s changeup early in the season but looked comfortable throwing it against righthanders in August.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
6 1 1.11 12 12 0 73 47 14 9 0 10 66 .177

13. Jesse Hahn, rhp, Hudson Valley Renegades
Age: 22  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 182  Drafted: Virginia Tech, 2010 (6th round).
A Connecticut high school teammate of Matt Harvey, Hahn generated Harveyesque draft buzz in the Cape Cod League in 2009 and at Virginia Tech the following spring. Elbow soreness affected him that season, causing him to slip to the sixth round, where he signed for $525,000. He had Tommy John surgery before he ever pitched a pro game and broke his foot in spring training this year, but his debut in the NY-P was worth the long wait.

"It was impressive," Sandberg said. "He set out as his goal this year to get through the season healthy, and he made every start. For him to show the pitchability he showed, he had a tremendous year."

Hahn needs to work on repeating his release point more consistently and he doesn't have the loosest delivery, but his electric stuff is undeniable. His four-seam fastball ranges from 94-99 mph, and his heavy two-seamer comes in at 91-96.

He also flashes a quality 12-to-6 power curveball and a changeup that has a chance to be a plus pitch. Later in the year, Hahn started throwing his slider again, and it could give him a fourth weapon if he can shorten it somewhat.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
2 2 2.77 14 14 0 52 38 18 16 0 15 55 .196

14. Vincent Velasquez, rhp, Tri-City ValleyCats
Age: 20  B-T: B-R  Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 185  Drafted: Garey (Calif.) HS, 2010 (2nd round).
Velasquez missed all of 2011 with Tommy John surgery, but flashed good stuff upon his return in instructional leagues last fall and had a strong summer in the NY-P. He has a loose, athletic frame, good downward plane and feel for a mix of three solid pitches.

Velasquez's fastball ranges from 89-95 mph with late riding life, and it's always around the zone. His 75-78 mph curveball has short 11-to-5 break and projects as a solid offering, though he sometimes struggles to stay on top of it. He also mixes in an 81-82 mph changeup with good arm speed

"He does it easy and he's still a young kid," Vermont manager Rick Magnante said. "He pounded the zone twice against us. He throws three pitches for strikes right now. He was 93-95 with a legit breaking ball and an average changeup against us."
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
4 1 3.35 9 9 0 46 37 19 17 2 17 51 .213

15. Clay Holmes, rhp, State College Spikes
Age: 19  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 230  Drafted: Slocomb (Ala.) HS, 2011 (9th round).
The valedictorian of his high school class, Holmes fetched a ninth-round record $1.2 million bonus to bypass a commitment to Auburn. He showed in his debut this summer that the Pirates' investment could pay off in a huge way.

Big and physical, Holmes has a tough downward angle on 90-95 mph fastball and hitters have a difficult time picking it up. He pitches heavily off his heater, pounding the bottom of the strike zone when he's on, though his control can come and go. He also impresses with his maturity, mound presence and competitiveness.

Holmes' fastball is ahead of his secondary stuff at this stage, but he has the makings of a quality three-pitch repertoire. His three-quarters breaking ball has good tilt, though he needs to repeat it more consistently. His changeup is still in its early stages of development.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
5 3 2.28 13 13 0 59 35 17 15 1 29 34 .164

16. Tyler Naquin, of, Mahoning Valley Scrappers
Age: 21  B-T: L-R  Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 175  Drafted: Texas A&M, 2012 (1st round).
Naquin built a reputation as one of college baseball's best pure hitters during his standout three-year career at Texas A&M, earning him a $1.75 million bonus as the No. 15 overall pick in the 2012 draft. He missed most of August with a back injury but returned in time to participate in the low Class A Midwest League playoffs.

Naquin has outstanding hand-eye coordination and a handsy, line-drive swing, but he'll need to incorporate his lower half better and turn on more pitches in order to maximize his gap power. Because of his quick hands and good vision, he can let the ball travel very deep into the hitting zone. He handles breaking balls very well and is a good bunter, though he could use his solid speed more aggressively on the bases.

After playing right field at A&M in deference to speed merchant Krey Bratsen, Naquin moved to center in his pro debut. He had some trouble coming in on balls early in the summer, though his jumps improved during the season. While he owns a well above-average arm, his throwing didn't stand out much in the NY-P.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
137 22 37 11 2 0 13 17 26 4 3 .270 .379 .380

17. Pat Light, rhp, Lowell Spinners
Age: 21  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 195  Drafted: Monmouth, 2012 (1st round supplemental).
It took Light a few years to harness his electric stuff at Monmouth, but he blossomed as a junior and pitched his way into the supplemental first round of the 2012 draft. After signing for $1 million, he continued to attack the strike zone at Lowell, where all of his starts were capped at two to three innings.

Light's best asset is his ability to drive off his back side to generate plus life and velocity on his heavy sinker, which reaches 95-97 mph. When he stays on top of it and pounds the bottom of the strike zone, he induces loads of groundouts. His ability to throw strikes with power stuff gives him the chance to be a back-end starter or late-inning reliever.

Light had trouble repeating his arm slot consistently in college, especially with his slider. He did a better job staying on top of his slider and throwing it with conviction in pro ball, and it has a chance to be a solid pitch. He also throws a fringy splitter.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
0 2 2.37 12 12 0 30 27 9 8 1 5 30 .229

18. Phillip Evans, ss, Brooklyn Cyclones
Age: 19  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 5-10 Wt.: 185  Drafted: La Costa Canyon HS, Carlsbad, Calif., 2011 (15th round).
A star of the high school showcase circuit, Evans saw his stock slip a bit as a senior, though he still fetched $650,000 as a 15th-round pick in 2011. Many area scouts doubted he would stay at shortstop in pro ball, but evaluators who saw him in the NY-P think he has a real chance to do so. He has reliable hands, above-average instincts and sound mechanics at shortstop, where his range is fringy but his arm is solid.

"He learned how to make the play coming in and made it as good as anybody," Donnelly said. "Just a massive improvement from last year to this year. He made every routine play. He makes the play in the hole, makes the play up the middle. Those groundballs that short hop or hop funny, he made every one of them."

Evans is maxed out physically, but his short righthanded swing and feel for his barrel allow him to project as a solid hitter with good pop to the alleys. He sees plenty of pitches, but the Mets would like to see him become a bit more aggressive. He has fringy speed at best and his baserunning needs work.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
294 32 74 8 1 5 29 31 48 2 0 .252 .328 .337

19. Tim Cooney, lhp, Batavia Muckdogs
Age: 21  B-T: L-L  Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 195  Drafted: Wake Forest, 2012 (3rd round).
Cooney wasn't quite as good this spring as he was during a standout sophomore year at Wake Forest, but he still showed enough feel for a solid four-pitch mix to get drafted in the third round. He was characteristically steady during his pro debut, though he started to feel some effects of fatigue from a long season.

Cooney has a durable frame, a sound delivery and average or slightly better stuff across the board. His fastball sits at 88-92 mph and bumps 93 and plays up because of a quality changeup that induces weak contact from righthanders. His upper-70s curveball has 1-to-7 break and decent depth, and his 82-85 mph cutter/slider gives him a fourth weapon.

"He just pitched to contact and really threw us," Graham said. "You can tell he's a competitor. He wants to be out there throwing and he works quick."
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
3 3 3.40 13 11 0 56 56 24 21 4 8 43 .251

20. Breyvic Valera, 2b/ss, Batavia Muckdogs
Age: 19  B-T: B-R  Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 160  Signed: Venezuela '10.
Valera hit .397 in 73 Appalachian League at-bats in his 2011 U.S. debut, and he continued to thrive in the NY-P. He didn't turn 20 until Aug. 1, but he played with a maturity well above his years.

"I liked him a ton," Auburn manager Gary Cathcart said. "There is no heartbeat. He just plays under so control, it's almost effortless. He hits righthanded, lefthanded, plays second base, shortstop. He has a tremendous clock in his head on defense and he can run. He was the one guy in our division that looked to me like you could have put him in Triple-A this year and it wouldn't have bothered him a bit."

Valera handles the bat very well from both sides, hitting .292 against righties and blitzing lefties to the tune of .411 this summer. He has a natural ability to square up hard liners into the gaps and he has good pitch recognition. He lacks home run power, but he profiles as a tablesetter with solid to plus speed.

He's an instinctive defender who takes good angles and has smooth actions. He has an average arm for second base, and he filled in adequately at shortstop when Alex Mejia got hurt late in the summer. As he adds some strength and gains more experience, Valera could grow into an everyday second baseman or a valuable utilityman in the big leagues.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
282 39 89 18 4 1 33 18 27 10 6 .316 .359 .418