Grand Junction, Colorado —— Entering play on the rookie season’s final day on Saturday, Colorado Rockies right-handed pitching prospect Jefry Valdez is 2-3 with a 4.20 ERA and ten saves over 27 relief appearances in 2017 with the Pioneer League‘s Grand Junction Rockies, with 48 strikeouts against eight walks and 27 hits in 30.0 innings of work. I observed the hard-throwing right-handed pitcher in a relief outing earlier this week with Grand Junction against Ogden; below is Baseball Census‘ full Jefry Valdez scouting report, including video.
Jeffry Valdez Scouting Report — Video
Our video of Colorado Rockies right-handed pitching prospect Jefry Valdez shows his early September relief outing against the Ogden Raptors, where he picked up a save in a clean inning with two strikeouts:
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Jefry Valdez Scouting Report — Notes
A late-inning power reliever who has asserted himself as Grand Junction’s closer in the second half of the Pioneer League season, Jefry Valdez was the hardest thrower I saw in my series between them and Ogden over Labor Day Weekend. Sitting 90-92 mph with his fastball, Valdez let loose two 94 mph offerings in the inning of work I had him behind the plate, showing off easy arm strength, and long, whip-like arm action. Long and lanky, Valdez can vary his tempos and mechanics well, even without runners on base, switching seamlessly from a full balance point to a slide-step quick-pitch that breaks the timing of opposing hitters enough to give him an edge.
He pairs all that, and the hard fastball, with a 79-81 mph changeup and an 82-85 mph slider. The changeup is slightly less developed right now, functioning as more of a ‘show-me’ pitch with moderate tumble but little by way of late movement or arm-side run that could make it an effective look against lefties. He has command feel for it with good arm speed, though, and with some work it could become a good pitch to play off his fastball (which Valdez loves to throw).
The slider is his off-speed pitch of choice, and it’s a very tight breaking ball that is producing a lot of strikeouts for the young righty reliever. It has good 10-to-4 break sometimes, but Valdez’s spin with it is so tight and compact that he may be better actually slowing it down slightly; the 82 mph versions of the slider were far more effective breaking late and hard than were the cutter-like (and sometimes spinner) 85 mph sliders he threw in my look. Adjustin that may be as simple as a grip change, though, and the broader point about his good slider feel stands: Valdez can miss bats with the pitch and he’s comfortable throwing it behind in the count in close games, as well as showing it to hitters on both sides of the plate. That ease will play well for him in the coming years.
Jefry Valdez still has to fight his emotions on the field, and he can get worked up easily depending on the situation around him. That manifests itself in some pretty serious overthrowing (another point at which his slider tends to flatten out), and even in a clean inning with no base runners against Ogden in our video above, Rockies catcher Javier Guevara had to explicitly calm Valdez down several times.
Related to that, Valdez can get off line easily, and he falls off hard to first base too often. It’s that explosion that gives him such good pitch life and velocity, but it’s also creating command issues and consistency problems with that slider, and if Valdez can channel his adrenaline well enough to walk the line between intense and overworked, it’ll serve him well as a late-inning reliever in the future.
Of course, it’s more than likely this is all merely a product of youth, and there’s no reason Jefry Valdez couldn’t figure it all out and thrive in the coming years. Long and lanky with ample room to grow into his frame, he should end up throwing harder soon, too, and ought settle into the mid-90s with ease over the next couple years. Beyond that, he’ll spend his career as a late-inning, high-leverage reliever who primarily works off his fastball and slider. In the last several seasons, the Colorado Rockies have shown themselves to be focused on developing power relievers, and Jefry Valdez is another one of them to watch in the coming years.
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