Leonel Valera

Position: SS
Level: Rk
Affiliate: AZL Dodgers
League: Arizona League
Born: 07/09/1999 (Age: 19)
Height: 6'1''
Weight: 165
B/T: Right / Right
Acquired: Signed as international free agent, 7/22/2015 (LAD)

Prospect Spotlight

A medium frame with broad shoulders and athletic features, Valera looks larger than his 6-foot-1 and 165-pound listing. It’s an extremely projectible build that’s easy to envision growing into a physical big league frame. Valera has quality batspeed, getting the barrel through the zone with loose whip and able to stay inside without sacrificing lift. He took some nice swings across my three-game look, showing hard line drive contact to both fields when he squared one up. There’s more gap power than present ability to put the ball up and over the fence, but Valera’s handspeed and body type allow projection on the power as he fills out. That being said, there’s a surprising amount of present swing/miss in the profile given his above-average batspeed and direct path to the ball. He frequently swung through hittable fastballs over the plate, also showing limited present pitch recognition by chasing spin down and out of the zone. AZL stats don’t often mean much, but Valera’s 27-percent strikeout rate seems significant given the current issues with contact consistency.

Defensively, he’s a coordinated gloveman at shortstop with soft hands and consistent ability to finish routine plays. Valera’s range is more average than true plus, and considering how much more muscular he could become, there’s a chance he winds up a fringy shortstop defender—though one that would be above-average anywhere else in the dirt. If he does outgrow the position, his above-average arm fits well at third base and won’t preclude him from profiling elsewhere on the field.

Valera’s projection and well-rounded toolset makes him a prospect, but he’s a long way from the big leagues and could wind up lacking the carry tool for an everyday ceiling. He’s a regular in the best-case scenario, though could realistically finish a FV 45 utility type with enough to spot-start.