David Golebiewski on Twins prospect Danny Valencia, recently recalled:
- Valencia, 25, might not be long for Minnesota — he’s replacing RF/reluctant 2B Michael Cuddyer (bereavement list) on the active roster. Then again, while Nick Punto has an outstanding glove at third base (career +19.5 UZR/150 in more than 2,000 innings), he’s hitting below even his modest standards. Plus, Brendan Harris‘ all-around poor play has resulted in a sub-replacement level performance. Minnesota has gotten a combined .257 wOBA from its third basemen, a mark of futility topped only by the Astros.
A 19th round pick out of the University of Miami back in 2006, Valencia entered the year ranked as a top 10 Twins prospect by Baseball America (number six), John Sickels (eight) and our own Marc Hulet (three).
According to Minor League Splits, Valencia’s work between Double-A and Triple-A in 2009 translated to a .248/.285/.389 line in the majors. His tepid 2010 works out to a .255/.302/.324 major league equivalent triple-slash. CHONE (.252/.295/.388 pre-season projection) and ZiPS (.251/.294/.377) forecast similarly mild lines for Valencia in the show.
As a mid-twenties farm talent who doesn’t work many deep counts and doesn’t possess mammoth power, Valencia has the look of a less-than-ideal option as an everyday player in the big leagues.
The Twins, who usually don't have any shortage of talent in the minors, aren't exactly stocked in Triple-A right now. Valencia's not ready to help, and their two best Triple-A prospects are probably shortstop Trevor Plouffe and catcher Wilson Ramos. And those are two positions at which the big club doesn't actually need any help. I suspect that next month the Twins will be actively trying to trade Ramos (though he's not hitting much this spring, which may depress his value somewhat). Plouffe does give the Twins some flexibility, as they could package him in a deal or promote him if another club is inordinately interested in J.J. Hardy.
All this might become moot if Orlando Hudson comes back strong and the Twins open up a big lead in their division. But at some point they'll probably have to engage in at least a few bouts of talent maximization.