Valdespin Gives Ducks A Boost
Before he ever met Jordany Valdespin, Long Island Ducks manager Kevin Baez had heard all the stories. And there were plenty of stories to tell. When he played for the Mets, Valdespin raised the ire of teammates and front office officials by violating dress codes, by celebrating a home run when his team was far behind and by reportedly yelling at his manager. There was also a 50-game suspension because of the Biogenesis scandal that eventually led to the Mets non-tendering him after the 2013 season. Valdespin caught on with the Marlins for a few games in the majors in 2014 and 2015, but since then, he’s bounced around.
But the independent leagues are a place for second chances, so Baez and the Ducks brought in Valdespin, 30, to see if he could help the team. What they found was a player who didn’t match his previous reputation. He arrived for spring training with an enthusiasm that impressed Baez and a willingness to do whatever was needed.
“When he came to us, I had just heard about him. I didn’t want to make any conclusions. I said, ‘Let me see how he is with me,’ ” Baez said. “He’s been good. He’s been a good teammate and a good player.”
Valdespin was more than a good player. He was the best player in the Atlantic League and the BA Independent Leagues Player of the Year. Valdespin hit .338/.399/.487 with 12 home runs, 30 stolen bases and a league-leading 94 runs scored. He also led the league in triples (seven) and hits (154) while providing reliable defense at second base.
“He was our leadoff guy. He got things going. He caused havoc on the basepaths,” Baez said. “He’s got tremendous bat speed. The ball jumps off his bat.”
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Valdespin helped Long Island reach the Atlantic League championship series for a third consecutive season. He then went off to play in the Dominican League.
Valdespin has returned home to play winter ball each of the past 10 seasons, including one year where he played in the Arizona Fall League and the Dominican League.
“He comes every day ready to play and ready to win,” Baez said. “I can’t see why he won’t get a shot (at affiliated ball). He’s proven that he deserves another chance.”