The Dodgers made a trade on Sunday, but it was not the rumored Ryan Bran for Matt Kemp swap. The Dodgers acquired minor league utility infielder Breyvic Valera from the Cardinals for minor league outfielder Johan Mieses. Valera is ranked as the number 30 prospect in the Cardinals system at press time by MLB.com Prospect Pipeline.
— Alanna Rizzo (@alannarizzo) April 1, 2018
A couple of items to note on Valera:
- He is a switch hitter. He’s 26 years old, from Montalban, Venezuela.
- Valera has been a big leaguer. He received a call-up last season with the Cardinals and albeit brief; went 1 for 10.
- He’s 5’11, 175 pounds. Valera profiles as a terrific contact hitter who has had trouble driving the ball consistently.
If you want to get to know Valera a little better, prospect guru John Sickels did an excellent write-up on him last year after his promotion over at Minor League Ball.
Sickels writes on the success he’s had in the minor leagues.
He proved a consistent .300 hitter at the lower levels, hitting .311 in 2011, .316 in 2012, .309 in 2013, .313 in 2014, similar numbers at every level until reaching Double-A in 2015 when he slumped to .236. Since he didn’t offer much power or speed his batting averages were rather empty, so when he ran into better pitching and slumped he didn’t look to have much value.
He got off to another so-so start with Double-A Springfield in 2016, hitting just .258/.289/.298 in 178 at-bats, but after moving up to Triple-A Memphis he was much better, hitting .341/.417/.415 in 217 at-bats. Pre-season, I had Valera rated as a Grade C+ prospect although not quite making the St. Louis Cardinals Top 20 prospects for 2017.
2017 was Valera’s best season yet: .314/.368/.450 with Memphis, including career-best marks in SLG due to 22 doubles and eight homers (both also career-highs). He drew 38 walks against only 34 strikeouts in 424 at-bats, maintaining his contact ability while showing more power.
His tools aside from the bat sound rather average, but that can be expected with a guy who has spent his career in the minor leagues grinding. One of his biggest strengths is his versatility; he’s appeared at every position on the diamond in the minor leagues except catcher and pitcher.
As for what the Dodgers gave up in Johan Mieses, he’s a 22-year old outfielder who has spent most of his time at Rancho Cucmonga. He briefly spent time with AA Tulsa in 2017, hitting .190 in 90 games. You can check out his lifetime minor league numbers here.
Obviously this isn’t a move that makes immediately better at the big league level today. With continued success with the bat, we may see him at Dodger Stadium when rosters expand in September. The Dodgers front office probably sat down and had a pow-wow that showed a lot of depth through the organization in the outfield. They saw the young and versatile Venezuelan ballplayer who hasn’t had much movement in the Cardinals system, and made a call on him. Someone along the line in our scouting department saw something they liked in Valera and decided to sign off on this swap. As with any prospect buried deep in a system, it will take time to see if the flower blooms.
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