Felix Valerio, 2B, MIL

Felix Valerio got off to a hot start in 2021, and then cooled off later. Which one is the real Valerio?

Video courtesy of R McElhaney
  • Born: December 26, 2000
  • B/T: Right/Right
  • 5’7″, 165-lbs
  • Signed by the New York Mets in 2018 out of the Dominican Republic

The Numbers

His raw numbers are listed above courtesy of baseball-reference.com. Let’s aggregate by year then focus on the important numbers for minor leaguers:

As an 18-year-old in Rookie ball in 2019, Valerio put up really nice numbers other than power. But then, even now he’s just 5’7″ and 165, so how much power are we expecting?

The speed was great, and the bat skills were top notch.

In 2021, hey, look, there’s some good power! Speed dropped a bit but is still good. And that bat skill? Ooh, baby, that’s the stuff!

Breaking it down by level is not as hot and heavy. He got on base like crazy at A-ball, and stole the bases, and walked more than he struck out. And the power was there too.

Then he advances to High-A and the OBP plunged (a .229 BA will do that to a guy), but the power soared to the stratosphere, and the bat skills were still excellent.

However, his Hard Hit% last year was just 20.4%, and that’s not good, folks. Seeing such a low BA and such a high ISO, but with such a low HH% is troubling. This is the sign of a kid selling out for power.

Savant doesn’t have 2021 for him, but we see this RHB had decent pull power, but not to the opposite field. It’s not his game, guys, regardless of what he did in High-A. He doesn’t have the body frame to expect power, just speed, and a great batting eye.

The Scouts

Warnings

He hasn’t shown us how he handles Double-A yet.

As he climbs the levels, if the power doesn’t get reinforced by harder hit balls, the pitches won’t be giving him so many walks. Even going from A to High-A saw his walk rate decline and his K rate increase. It will only get worse from here, though it helps he’s starting from such a great point.

Conclusion

Eric Longenhagen said in July 2021:

He has a big, slow leg kick and takes a lot of high-effort swings but it doesn’t undermine his ability to put the bat on the ball, and he’s currently among the minor league leaders in swinging strike rate. Valerio is neither especially strong nor especially projectable, and he’s a better long-term fit at either second or third base. Ideally a player falling in that range of the defensive spectrum would have a better shot to grow into power, and so Valerio projects as a versatile, 1-ish WAR multi-positional infielder.

I think this is the best we can say about Valerio unless he hits the ball harder. He has such a great ability to get the bat on the ball, and speed to run, that he could be a table setter in the majors. But only if he can make the pitchers bend to his skills.

If not, he could be a low-end infielder who gets on base and steals a few.

Now he’s only (as I write this) about to turn 21. Maybe he puts on a few pounds, or grows an inch or two to add to his frame. Double-A in 2022 will be a critical time to see if he can keep that power gain, or even better add to it by hitting the ball harder. Or will he settle back to less impressive bat skills now that pitchers see they won’t have to fear his bat?

It’s hope for the best, but expect the middle, for Valerio at this moment.

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