Born in New York, Valera moved to the Dominican Republic at the age of 13 and was subsequently eligible to sign with a pro team as an international free agent as a 16-year-old. Considered one of the top hitters in the 2017 J2 class, he signed a $1.3 million bonus with the Indians and was moved straight to the AZL. He broke his hamate bone early into the season and missed the remainder of 2018, though Valera hasn’t missed a beat through an impressive run through the New York-Penn League this summer.
Valera’s 5-foot-10 and 160-pound frame is more muscular and physical than the listing reads on paper. He creates surprising raw power with excellent leverage and torque from the left side, taking an aggressive hack that brings advanced power to games for a teenager. The length of Valera’s swing causes some present swing/miss issues, with a hip leak that tends to pull him off well-located pitches low and away. Both of these things are correctable, though a strikeout rate near 30-percent and grounder-heavy contact profile are at least things to monitor moving forward. He’s currently a CF, though it’s likely he’ll move to an outfield corner once physically mature.
You can’t teach these types of offensive tools, and the chance to be an above-average hit/power producer makes Valera one of the more notable hitting prospects below A-Ball in the minors. There’s undeniable risk for this type of bat-carries player—especially so far away from the big leagues—but Valera’s potential at the plate already has placed him in the FV 50 tier.