Grand Junction, Colorado —— Entering the rookie season’s final day on Saturday, Colorado Rockies right-handed pitching prospect Justin Valdespina is 3-5 with a 6.18 ERA over 14 starts in 2017 with the Pioneer League‘s Grand Junction Rockies, with 35 strikeouts against 101 hits and 23 walks in 71.1 innings pitched. I observed the Southern New Hampshire University product in a start earlier this week for Grand Junction at home against Ogden; below is Baseball Census‘ full Justin Valdespina scouting report, including video.
Justin Valdespina Scouting Report — Video
Our video of Colorado Rockies right-handed pitching prospect Justin Valdespina shows several different angles of his September 4 start against the Ogden Raptors at Suplizio Field:
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Justin Valdespina Scouting Report — Notes
Working out of the stretch for his entire outing, Justin Valdespina sat 86-90 mph with his fastball, topping out twice at 91 mph, both without runners on base. The righty pairs his fastball with an 84-87 mph two-seam version that has noticeable arm-side life and is particularly good in on the hands of right-handed hitters. He also throws an 81-83 mph changeup, and a 77-81 mph slider, both of which grade out as below-average right now with little by way of late movement to keep hitters honest. Valdespina mixes pitches and speeds well, though, and has some success throwing to both sides of the plate, even if his control is markedly ahead of his command at this point.
A big, strong kid who comes from a high three-quarters look, it’s likely he’ll continue to throw harder as he refines and tightens his mechanics and grows into his somewhat gangly and awkward frame. Further mechanical refinements — especially staying on line to the plate and finding a consistent landing spot — will further help build velocity. Until then, he has enough to survive by changing speeds even as his off-speed pitches continue to improve, too.
Long term, I’m not sold on Justin Valdespina being anything more than organizational depth, though he’s raw enough that there may be some significant development yet to come. He has moderate use of four pitches within the strike zone, which helps his case both as a starter and a swingman out of the bullpen, but he’s relatively unrefined at this point in his career for a college product and he needs considerable repetitions to smooth out his command and make his delivery more consistent.
Nevertheless, he has good size and enticing raw arm strength even now, so there’s enough of a base there to warrant the Colorado Rockies seeing if they can turn him into a polished pitcher. If they do, expect Justin Valdespina as a long-relief type coming out of the bullpen for multiple innings in low-leverage situations, though it’s likely he’ll continue to start games in 2018 to build innings and experience.