By The Baseball Beginnings Guy
December 17, 2009
The first time I saw Jesus Valdez, he was a high school sophomore playing shortstop. There were no other scouts around me. Not one scout with his nose in his text messages or email. I looked around and I knew this guy was mine to study. I liked the guy’s frame and I saw projection. I saw him take ground balls at short before the game and I watched infield. He had stiff hands, but the guy could throw. His strong and loose arm power was clearly his best tool. I actually liked him as a shortstop if he could hit. I wasn’t in love with him offensively, but I wanted to follow this player.
Two years later, Valdez’s best tool is still his arm, and it’s as a right-handed pitcher that he’s going to be a good draft selection from Oxnard, California. The pro side will have to buy him out of Arizona first. Oxnard is a seaside town that has sent us a good share of professional baseball players over the decades. Have a look at Valdez.
Valdez is going to be a man on the mound. At 6-2, 190 entering his senior year at Hueneme High School, Valdez is a young power arm whose projection is all in front of him. His fastball sits 89-92, with bumps to 93-94. Valdez’s arm slot is high ¾ and he rarely drops. When he does, he corrects it himself. He gets extension and downhill plane, which contributes to tight rotation and movement. His delivery is smooth and efficient and he understands how to create drop-and-drive and let his legs work for him. I love guys who don’t drag behind the ball.
His fastball will be his weapon and it has bite down in the strike zone, essentially a power sinker. He will be as good as he can be as a pro if he’s not afraid to be aggressive with it. If he falls into the trap of trying to nibble with it, he’s not going to be as successful as he could be. He’s got to be willing to cut the plate in half with this thing. He’s got a great arm, but he won’t be overpowering enough to not invite contact. He has to trust his movement will miss bats.
Physically, Valdez has long and lean legs that offer projection, but also the power hips and thighs you like to find in your durable right-handed pitchers. He’s new to pitching, which means that his secondary pitches aren’t as advanced right now as some of the more heralded right-handers. Valdez has some power to his curveball, coming down and hard at 77-79, with room for growth. I’m looking forward to seeing him pitch a game where he shows us where his other off-speed stuff is.
Because of his power, projection and body size, Valdez is a very good high-school right-handed pitching prospect. You won’t find a guy like this on any other site until after the draft. That’s what we here at Baseball Beginnings call good scouting.