Name: Freddy Valdez
Weight: 210 lbs.
Acquired: IFA, July 2, 2018 (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic)
57 G, 220 AB, .268/.358/.432, 59 H, 15 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 28 BB, 46 K, 6/7 SB, .312 BABIP (Rookie-DSL)
3 G, 10 AB, .400 /.538/.800, 4 H, 1 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 3 BB, 3 K, 0/1 SB, .500 BABIP (Rookie-GCL)
Considered one of the top international rookies available during the 2018-2019 international free agent signing period, the Mets signed 16-year-old Dominican outfielder Freddy Valdez for $1.45 million. He made his professional debut in 2019, spending the majority of the season in the Dominican Summer League but getting a cup of coffee late in the season stateside with the GCL Mets. With the DSL Mets, he hit .268/.358/.432 in 57 games, hitting 5 homers, stealing 6 bases, walking 28 times and striking out 46 times. In his three-game stint in the Gulf Coast League at the end of the season, Valdez went 4-10 with a double and a home run, walking three times and striking out three times.
Valdez has a physical presence that many other players simply do not have. He is a well-built 6’3”, 210-pounds and his game revolves around his strength and power. He has above-average raw power often takes violent hacks at the plate with a long, pull-oriented swing that sometimes costs him his balance. When he keeps his swing and lower half in sync, he is able to drive the ball far and harness that power. When he is not, he takes awkward, off-balance swings that result in weak contact or strike outs.
Though a big kid, Valdez moves fairly well in the outfield. He is a below-average runner, owing to a lack of explosive quick twitch muscle in his first step, but once he gets going he can cover a decent amount of ground. His arm is above-average, giving him the ability to play right field. If he eventually loses mobility as he grows and adds weight and mass, he will be limited to first base. The bat profiles well there, and though not a natural infielder, he is a big target and has shown more ability at scooping and picking balls than most who do not see regular playing time at the position.
The Mets were very aggressive with fellow 17-year-old Latin American youngsters Junior Santos and Francisco Alvarez, but were a bit more cautious with Valdez, having him get his feet wet in the DSL for the majority of the season before giving him a token appearance in the GCL at the end of the year. I don’t know if there’s anything to read into that, but there’s not much to say, as stats at this low a level are to be taken with a major grain of salt. Valdez didn’t do anything you don’t want to see, and it’s an exciting profile, so we’ll see.
Similar to Alexander Ramirez further down the list, I don’t have a ton to add here right now. Valdez got a big bonus and has loud tools that project big future power – or so those who have seen the DSL games in person say. What this ranking amount to is some combination of our prior knowledge of the success rate associated with big-bonus July 2nd signings and a giant shrug emoji.
Valdez had a relatively important 2019 season, even if we didn’t learn much about his future potential as a player. Signed in the 2018 IFA signing period for $1.45 million out of the Dominican Republic, Valdez debuted with the DSL Mets in 2019 and performed generally pretty well there. Valdez hit .268/.358/.432 with five homers in 257 plate appearances. Statistics in the foreign complex leagues are more or less meaningless, but Valdez’s performance did prompt the Mets to promote him to the Gulf Coast League for a few games at the end of the season. He appeared in three games for the GCL Mets, and for it’s worth he played pretty well, going four for ten with a double, a homer, and three walks included. He’s also posted strong strikeout and walk numbers across both stops, which again doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but is worth keeping an eye on as he gets more experience. We will probably get a better idea of what kind of potential exists in Valdez’s game next season, where he figures to start the 2019 season in either Kingsport or Brooklyn, depending on how how he looks in instructs and extended spring training.
Freddy Valdez burst onto the scene after signing for $1.45 million as an IFA in 2018, and he earned a Sterling Award for DSL hitter of the year. He earned that award with a .258/.358/.432 slash line in the DSL and was brought stateside at the end of the season with the Gulf Coast Mets. He’s a big kid despite being just 17, and there’s a lot to like about the early returns.