also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -
People often ask me why I am so high on Valencia. Many prospect rankings don’t even include him in their Top 100 lists, so why do I think he is untouchable? The main reason is this. The Twins will have a need at 3B after this season. Let’s be real, Joe Crede isn’t going to come back, and despite impressive, incredible defense, probably should not be back. Danny Valencia can fill that 3B vacancy not just in 2010, but he could be there through 2015 or beyond. That, of course, assumes he produces, but I ask you to look at his track record on the field (.300/.358/.483 in four seasons) and tell me what indicates that he would not succeed? At each level, he has succeeded. He hits for average, has decent power, is a run producer and all reports indicate that he is better than average defensively.
So many ask if he will be an All-Star? I don’t know. I look for him to be a consistent .280/340/.460 type of hitter over several years, and that is kind of a minimum. I can see him hitting 15-20 home runs with potentially a year or two where he jumps in to the high 20s. And he does not turn 25 until September, so the Twins can have him for his best years (25-31).
A little over a week ago, I asked readers on this site to send me some questions for Twins 3B prospect Danny Valencia. Since that time, he has endured the long bus rides from the International League North (Rochester, Buffalo, etc.) to the International League south (which goes as far as Atlanta). He also had to go through what has to be a trying time for any ballplayer. His name surfaced all over the place as one of a couple of Twins prospects that every team wanted at the trade deadline. But he still took time to answer our questions, and I do appreciate it.
With that, here are your questions for Danny Valencia with his responses:
From Derek –
Is third base your natural position?
From Joseph Voigt –
What other positions did you play growing up?
DV: I grew up being a shortstop and playing short until I got to college and I was moved over to Third base because the coach didn’t think I was quick enough. They were right (lol). I also pitched and was pretty good at it. I felt in high school I was a better pitcher than a position player.
From Joseph Voigt -
Do you have a good luck charm? If so what?
DV: No good luck charms but definitely superstitious in the sense that I like to stick to my daily routine before the game.
From Joe R –
Danny, since I live near Omaha I’ve got to ask you a CWS question. How does your CWS experience rank in your list of career accomplishments? That game-winning grand slam against Ole Miss is going to be tough to top, although a similar feat to lead the Twins to a World Series win in 2010 would be at least as equally satisfying.
DV: Being able to play in the CWS as of now is probably my most memorable moment in baseball so far. That grand slam in Ole Miss is right there with it. I’m sure whenever I put on my first big league uniform that those college memories will be pushed down to number 2.
From Joe R –
How did you like your time in Omaha? Do you have any good stories?
DV: Omaha was great; the whole city shuts down for the event. Fans from all over are there and everyone is really nice to all the players. It’s definitely something that I’ll cherish forever. My stories may not be suitable for a blog (lol), but if you really want to know, ask me in person and I’ll share with you (haha).
From Ruth –
When are you coming to Minnesota? We need you! I took a picture of Tony Oliva giving you some advice down in Ft Myers this spring. Do you remember what he told you? Did it help?
DV: I’m coming to MN when the Twins feel I’m ready, I can’t wait to be there because I’ve heard nothing but great things about the fans and people from MN. Hopefully sooner than later (lol). Tony is a great guy and constantly would give me pointers on my approach when I’m in the batter’s box. He pretty much told me to take what the pitcher gave me and not try to do too much at the plate. I feel it helped me this year a lot because I walked a bunch in AA, since being in Triple A, I feel like the pitchers have 5 balls and 2 strikes (lol).
From Dan M –
In your time in the Minors with the Twins organization have you noticed any philosophical changes that would indicate that there is an increased support and/or emphasis on new SABRmetric analysis like ground ball/fly ball ratios, On Base Percentage, OPS, OPS+ or other newer statistics? Or is the Twins system still heavy on fundamentals and old school baseball?
DV: We (The Twins) emphasize playing the game right, being fundamentally sound and playing hard at all times. OPS is pretty important.
From Roger D –
I would ask Danny how much he feels his defense has improved. And how much work he has left to become a better than average major league defender? Also, how would he rate himself defensively?
DV: I feel my defense has gotten better every year. I still have work to do and I will continue to work hard at it. Not everyone is Joe Crede, I’d like to be able to play with him so he could give me pointers that would help me be a better 3rd baseman. I’ll let you rate me when you see me play, Roger, hopefully its good (lol).
From Jack Steal –
Do you feel any pressure knowing you are the top prospect in the Twins farm system to take over 3B?
DV: No pressure, just motivation to be able to fill those labels. It’s a privilege and honor, to be tabbed that, that I’m grateful for.
From Jack Steal –
Will or are you ready to take over third base for Joe Crede?
DV: I feel I’ll be ready soon. Joe Crede is a great player and better guy. Hopefully I don’t disappoint (ha).
From James M –
What number will you wear when you become a fixture at third base for the Twins?
DV: I’ll wear whatever they want me to wear. However, my number has been 22 all my life and GoGo wears that.
From Derek –
Who was your favorite player growing up? What was your favorite baseball team when you were growing up?
DV: Ken Griffey Jr. The Seattle Mariners.
From Kyle B –
What is your biggest weakness (without giving too much away), and how are you going about to improve it?
DV: My biggest weakness…..Sliders down and away. (Lol), and sidearm righties…hate them. (lol).
From Seth –
What are the biggest differences between the Eastern League and the International League?
DV: The pitchers locate way better and have the experience factor. The game is faster and the cities you play in are bigger (lol) Adjustments have to be made at every level and hopefully I’ll be able to make them. This past week has been tough on me. It seems that I didn’t make any adjustments.
Thank you to all of you who asked questions, and especially thank you to Danny Valencia for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Hopefully we can do this again when Danny does get that call and does get to put on his first big league uniform in a regular season Major League ball game.
Please feel free to Send me an e-mail, or leave your questions or comments here.