Red Sox’ Enmanuel Valdez makes MLB Pipeline’s Prospect Team of the Year

MLB Pipeline revealed their Prospect Team of the Year for 2022 on Thursday. The Red Sox had one representative in infielder Enmanuel Valdez.

Valdez was named the first team’s starting second baseman after batting .296/.376/.542 with 35 doubles, two triples, 28 home runs, 107 RBIs, 92 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 64 walks, and 124 strikeouts in 126 games (573 plate appearances) between Double-A and Triple-A this season.

Among qualified minor-league second basemen, Valdez posted the highest slugging percentage, the second-highest OPS (.918), the third-highest isolated power (.246), the third-most homers, and the second-most RBIs, per FanGraphs.

The 23-year-old out of the Dominican Republic began the 2022 campaign with the Corpus Christi Hooks, the Double-A affiliate of the Astros. He then earned a promotion to Triple-A Sugar Land in early June. Less than two months later, he and fellow prospect Wilyer Abreu were traded to the Red Sox for catcher Christian Vazquez.

While Abreu was assigned to Double-A Portland, Valdez joined Triple-A Worcester. The left-handed hitter made his organizational debut on August 3 and slashed .237/.309/.422 with nine doubles, one triple, seven home runs, 30 RBIs, 26 runs scored, three stolen bases, 19 walks, and 48 strikeouts in 44 games (195 plate appearances with the WooSox.

Valdez’s second-half homers came in bunches. He hit two in his first three games at Polar Park from Aug. 3-5 and enjoyed a two-homer game on Aug. 9. His next big fly did not come until the 28th and his final two came on September 3-4. Over the last three weeks of the minor-league season, Valdez hit just .238 with a .565 OPS across 16 games to close out his year.

Defensively, Valdez saw playing time at three different positions in Worcester. The 5-foot-9, 191-pounder logged 330 innings at second base, 24 innings at third base, and 25 innings in left field.

Originally signed by the Astros for $450,000 as an international free-agent in July 2015, Valdez can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft and minor-league free agency this winter. The Red Sox will have until late November to decide if they want to protect Valdez from the Rule 5 by adding him to their 40-man roster.

With that being said, it seems unlikely that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. would part ways with an established veteran such as Vazquez just to risk losing part of the return for him the following winter. For what it is worth, Abreu can also become Rule 5-eligible in the coming months, though he is under club control through 2024.

Valdez, who turns 24 in December, is currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 18 prospect in Boston’s farm system. If he remains in the organization through the off-season, Valdez could very well make his major-league debut at some point in 2023. He possesses intriguing power and can play multiple positions, so there is potential for him to undertake a utility role in the not-so-distant future.

(Picture of Enmanuel Valdez: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox’ Enmanuel Valdez takes home International League Player of the Week honors

Red Sox infield prospect Enmanuel Valdez was named the International League Player of the Week for the week of August 29-September 4, Minor League Baseball announced on Monday.

In Triple-A Worcester’s last series against the Buffalo Bisons at Polar Park, Valdez appeared in all six games and went 10-for-24 (.417) with four doubles, one triple, two home runs, 10 RBIs, eight runs scored, one stolen base, three walks, and four strikeouts. He finished a single shy of the cycle on Sunday.

Since making his WooSox debut on Aug. 3, Valdez has batted .236/.325/.500 (114 wRC+) to go along with six doubles, one triple, seven homers, 27 runs driven in, 22 runs scored, two stolen bases, 15 walks, and 31 strikeouts over 28 games (127 plate appearances). Among those in the International League who have made at least 120 trips to the plate this season, the left-handed hitter ranks 51st in slugging percentage and 16th in isolated power (.264), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Valdez has seen playing time at three different positions in his time with the WooSox. After starting at second base on Sunday, the 5-foot-9, 191-pounder has logged 213 innings at second, 15 innings at third, and 17 innings in left field.

Valdez, 23, was originally signed by the Astros for $450,000 as an international free-agent coming out of the Dominican Republic in July 2015. The Red Sox acquired the San Juan de la Maguana native and fellow prospect Wilyer Abreu from Houston in exchange for catcher Christian Vazquez ahead of last month’s trade deadline.

Now, Valdez is regarded by Baseball America as the 16th-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system. The publication describes him as “a bat-first infielder with a good combination of power and contact.” While there are some defensive concerns, he is “a tough out that grinds out at-bats, can hit for contact and punish mistakes.”

Valdez, who turns 24 in December, can become eligible for this winter’s Rule 5 Draft if he is not added to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster by the November deadline. Unlike Eddinson Paulino, who has yet to play above Low-A, Valdez seems like more of a lock to be added given his experience and level of production at Triple-A.

“If he were going to get called up tomorrow, I think his ability to play [multiple] positions would be very valuable for a major-league clubhouse and a major-league bench,” Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham said of Valdez in a recent conversation with The Athletic’s Chad Jennings. “He can play infield. He can play a corner (outfield) spot. And he can run into baseballs with power. So, I think the skillset lends itself really well to being an impactful major-league player. We’ve seen athleticism, and we’ve seen some areas that can be improved upon. I know our Triple-A staff already feel they’ve made some strides ins some of the smaller motor learning skills that he can improve upon while being in the infield, whether that be first-step quickness or the way he moves from left to right. And same thing in the outfield, some of the first step and quickness, I think he’s shown improvement on.”

“But, I think we’ve got a twitchy guy who has power, who drives the baseball, and the better he’s able to have an understanding of the strike zone and what he needs to do to consistently drive the baseball to all fields will allow him to be more impactful,” added Abraham. “But I think in a lot of ways he’s someone who’s incredibly unique, who can do all of those things (that profile well as a utility man) and still be someone who can play one position and play there for a consistent amount of time. I think that’s incredibly valuable these days. As we know, our Major League team has a bunch of those guys, our Triple-A team has a bunch of those guys. Getting yourself in the lineup to make an impact is really important.”

(Picture of Enmanuel Valdez: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox prospect Wilyer Abreu homers for first time since being acquired from Astros

Wilyer Abreu hit his first home run as a member of the Red Sox organization on Sunday afternoon. It came in the third inning of Double-A Portland’s 4-1 win over the Hartford Yard Goats at Hadlock Field.

Following Sunday’s 1-for-3 performance in which he also drew a walk, Abreu is now batting .205/.341/.288 with three doubles, the one homer, seven RBIs, 11 runs scored, two stolen bases, 16 walks, and 29 strikeouts in 23 games (91 plate appearances) with the Sea Dogs.

While those numbers do not stand out by any means, Abreu appears to be showing some signs of life at the plate lately. In his last five games, for the instance, the left-handed hitting outfielder has gone 4-for-15 (.267) with an on-base percentage of .400 and wRC+ of 136.

On the other side of the ball, Abreu made his fifth start in center field for Portland on Sunday. All together, the 6-foot, 217-pounder has logged 61 innings in center, 71 innings in left, and 56 innings in right since joining the Sea Dogs earlier this month.

The Red Sox acquired Abreu and fellow prospect Enmanuel Valdez from the Astros in exchange for catcher and free-agent-to-be Christian Vazquez on August 1. While Valdez was assigned to Triple-A Worcester out of the gate, Abreu has spent the entirety of his organizational tenure to this point in Portland.

Abreu, 23, originally signed with the Astros for $300,000 as an international free agent coming out of Venezuela in July 27. At the time of the trade, the Maracaibo native was regarded by Baseball America as the No. 21 prospect in Houston’s farm system. He is now ranked by the publication as the No. 22 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Interestingly enough, Abreu was supposed to sign with the Red Sox as a 17-year-old in 2016. He had already established a relationship with assistant general manager Eddie Romero, but Boston was banned from signing international prospects during the 2016-17 period after breaking signing bonus rules the year before.

“I was supposed to sign here with the Red Sox in 2016,” said Abreu, who added that Romero was one of the first people to call him after the trade was made in a recent conversation with MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith.

“I love it,” Abreu said of joining the Red Sox organization. “It’s a new team. A lot of guys who have a good makeup. And I like this city (Portland) because of the weather. I love the weather.”

Per his Baseball America scouting report, Abreu is “an extremely patient hitter with a discerning eye at the plate, leading to high walk totals and some strikeouts due to passivity. Overall it’s high level swing decisions with above-average game power. He has enough bat-to-ball skills to avoid the three-true-outcome label, but his average will fluctuate due to his flyball heavy approach.

“Defensively he can handle centerfield and tests highly on the Astros internal athleticism measurements. He has an unusual build as he’s a bigger bodied player for centerfield, but he has the ability to hit and provide versatility in the outfield.”

Abreu, who does not turn 24 until next June, can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter if the Red Sox do not add him to their 40-man roster by the November deadline. It remains to be seen if that will happen. In the meantime, a late-season promotion so that Abreu can join Valdez in Worcester certainly cannot be ruled out.

(Picture of Wilyer Abreu: Christopher Smith/MassLive)

Red Sox infield prospect Enmanuel Valdez off to encouraging start with new organization

Recently-acquired prospect Enmanuel Valdez has gotten his tenure in the Red Sox organization off to a strong start.

In Triple-A Worcester’s 6-5 loss to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in Moosic, Pa. on Sunday, Valdez went 1 for 4 with a two-run single while batting third and starting at second base.

Since joining the WooSox earlier this month, the left-handed hitter has batted a stout .297/.372/.649 with one double, four home runs, 15 RBIs, nine runs scored, one stolen base, five walks, and nine strikeouts over 10 games (44 plate appearances). Two of those homers came in the same game this past Friday.

Valdez, 23, was one of two prospects (the other being Wilyer Abreu) the Red Sox acquired from the Astros in the trade that sent veteran catcher Christian Vazquez to Houston on August 1.

Now regarded by Baseball America as the No. 16 prospect in Boston’s farm system, Valdez originally signed with the Astros as an international free-agent coming out of the Dominican Republic in July 2015. The San Juan de la Maguana native began the 2022 season with Houston’s Double-A affiliate before earning a promotion to Triple-A Sugar Land in early June.

Between the Space Cowboys and WooSox, Valdez has slashed .296/.352/.577 to go along with 26 extra-base hits (14 homers), 47 runs driven in, 35 runs scored, two stolen bases, 16 walks, and 38 strikeouts across 48 games (217 plate appearances) at the Triple-A level.

Defensively, Valdez was initially signed as a shortstop seven years ago but has since proven capable of moving all across the field. Already with the WooSox, the 5-foot-9, 191-pounder has logged 70 innings at second base, nine innings at third base, and eight innings in left field. He also has experience at first base, shortstop, and in right field.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, Valdez is “a bat-first infielder with a good combination of power and contact but major defensive questions.” He “has a bat-first second base profile with a lot of offensive skills to believe in.”

Valdez, who turns 24 in December, can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter. The Red Sox would need to add him to their 40-man roster by the November deadline if they wish to prevent that from happening.

(Picture of Enmanuel Valdez: Rick Cinclair/Telegram & Gazette /USA TODAY NETWORK)