Red Sox infield prospect Enmanuel Valdez will make his major-league debut against the Twins at Fenway Park on Wednesday night.
Valdez was called up from Triple-A Worcester after fellow infielder Yu Chang was placed on the paternity leave list. The 24-year-old will start at second base and bat ninth for manager Alex Cora in the middle game of this three-game series with Minnesota.
Acquired from the Astros with outfield prospect Wilyer Abreu for catcher Christian Vazquez last August, Valdez is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 19 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The Red Sox added the Dominican Republic native to their 40-man roster in November so that he would not be eligible for minor-league free agency or the Rule 5 Draft.
Valdez closed out the 2022 season with the WooSox and played with Toros del Este of the Dominican Winter League over the winter. He then showed flashes of his potential in his first spring training with the Red Sox by clubbing two home runs and posting a .389 on-base percentage in 15 Grapefruit League games before being optioned in mid-March.
Though Valdez returned to Worcester for the start of the 2023 minor-league season, he had not gotten off to the best of starts leading up to Wednesday’s promotion. In 11 games with the WooSox this year, the left-handed hitter has batted just .179 (7-for-39) with three doubles, one home run, six RBIs, three runs scored, one stolen base, six walks, and 15 strikeouts in 45 plate appearances.
While those numbers may not look too encouraging, Valdez recently came through with three clutch hits — a solo homer, a game-tying double, and a walk-off single — in Saturday’s 6-5 victory over the Columbus Clippers at Polar Park.
As he prepares to debut with the Red Sox, Valdez will first be going up against Twins starter Joe Ryan to begin things on Wednesday night. Ryan, a righty, has held opposing left-handed hitters to a measly .103/.133/.310 slash line through three starts so far this season. Valdez, meanwhile, has gone 7-for-27 (.257) with that one home run against right-handed pitching in 2023
On the other side of the ball, all 11 of Valdez’s starts this season have come at second base, where he has committed just one error and been involved in six double plays while logging 88 2/3 innings at the position. The versatile 5-foot-8, 191-pounder has past experience at a plethora of other positions as well, but it appears the Red Sox are most comfortable using him at the keystone to kick off his first stint in the majors.
Valdez will wear the No. 47, which was last worn by Yolmer Sanchez last year. He will also become the second Red Sox player to make their big-league debut this season, joining Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida, who evidently is out of Wednesday’s starting lineup.
Taking all of that into consideration, it is worth mentioning that Valdez may not be with Boston for long if the plan is to send him back to Worcester once Chang is ready to return to action in the coming days.
Additionally, it is disappointing to relay that Vazquez, who is now with Minnesota, is not in his new team’s lineup after starting in the opener. Ryan Jeffers will instead be getting the start behind the plate for Rocco Baldelli’s American League Central-leading Twins.
With that, first pitch from Fenway Park on Wednesday night is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN+ and MLB Network. While Ryan will be starting for Minnesota, fellow right-hander Corey Kluber is slated to make his fourth start of the season for Boston.
(Picture of Enmanuel Valdez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)