What has happened to Jordany Valdespin’s stock in the organization? I keep hearing about Duda, Nieuwenhuis and Baxter with hardly ever a mention of ‘Spin. I thought he flashed some nice power in limited playing time, and when they handed him an outfielder’s glove he adapted very quickly. What gives?
Joe D. replies…
No one can deny that Valdespin is probably the most athletically gifted player on the Mets 40 man roster right now. Although his skills are still somewhat raw, there is no denying his impressive and rare combination of power and speed. He can put a charge into a baseball like few others can and he adds a certain electricity to the lineup whenever he’s in it.
Defensively, ’Spin fared much better in the outfield than Duda and Murphy did when they were asked to trade in their infield gloves. However, there’s some work to be done. He needs to get better reads off the bat and improve on his routes, but that can only come with more playing time and experience.
‘Spin plays the game fearlessly and aggressively and last season he showed a knack for rising to the occasion in a big spot – something the Mets don’t get enough of these days. But all that glitters is not gold.
There are some very apparent flaws to Valdespin’s game, and chief among them is his poor strikezone judgement. He swings at far too many pitches out of the zone leading to a high propensity for strikeouts, low batting average, and not enough walks. (Although his walk rate has improved, so there is some hope.)
Ideally, Valdespin looks to be the type of hitter you’d like to see batting first or second in the lineup. But until he can make more contact that probably won’t happen and unfortunately it now appears that he may have worn out his welcome with the Mets.
It may sound unfair for a team to give up so quickly on such a young and gifted talent as Valdespin, but it seems that is exactly what the Mets are doing. All offseason long, his name has never been mentioned when the subject of the Mets outfield comes up – even though he may be the team’s best hope, at least for the foreseeable future.
Last week, Mets beat writer Anthony DiComo even went so far as to say that “Valdespin is a long shot” to make the team this Spring. That’s sad.
If that’s true, I think the Mets are underestimating Valdespin’s power and speed potential. For a team that is always preaching patience, they seem to have had very little of it where ‘Spin is concerned. If I were calling the shots, Valdespin would get a full compliment of at-bats and playing time for the first two months of the season. I would exhaust all measures with him before I punt one of the corner outfield positions to the likes of Collin Cowgill and Mike Baxter who are better suited as utility outfielders.
The bottom line is that with some improved plate discipline, Valdespin may be every bit as good and perhaps better than some of the outfielders the Mets have been kicking the tires on like Jason Kubel, Michael Morse or Michael Bourn.