Cleveland Guardians outfield prospect George Valera signed with the organization as a part of heralded class of signees from the 2017 international class.
He’s been rising up the prospect rankings ever since, and now sits 29th on Keith Law’s top 100 MLB prospects lists, which was published on The Athletic (subscription required).
Now the big question: When can Valera actually helped the outfield started Guardians.
After all, the prospect lost a year of baseball due to the pandemic in 2020. An oblique injury limited him to 86 games in 2021. MLB Pipeline lists his ETA as 2023.
This team needs outfield help, now, though and after reading what Law wrote about Valera, you wonder if he might somehow break though in 2022.
"“He plays with a lot of panache — I believe “swaggy” might be the more contemporary term, fellow kids — and bat-flips his home runs like a boss. He has bat speed, big strength and an advanced eye at the plate, along with solid-average defense for right field, and there’s just an electricity to the way he plays. He’s not a finished product, due in no small part to his limited playing time, but he might be a 30-homer/80-walk guy at his peak.”"
An electricy to the way he plays! When’s the last time anyone said that about a Guardians prospect?
Valera obviously still needs some polish, as Law noted that he barely saw any left-handers last season with southpaws challenging him in just 18 percent of his plate appearances.
Look for Valera to return to Class AA Akron this season. He only played 23 games there a season ago after his promotion. But promotion to Columbus means he’s only one stop away.
Let’s also remember this is the Cleveland baseball organization. They don’t rush anyone, mainly because doing so would start the service time clock.
Additionally, you have to account for analytics. Remember, MLB analytics indicate the odds of a player sticking in the major leagues goes up if they get around 1,800-2,500 plate appearances in the minors. Obviously, Valera is well short.
Valera was ranked 76th at this time last year on Law’s list.
Cleveland Guardians prospect Brayan Rocchio comes in at 22
Rocchio, another member of the 2017 class, check in at 22. He was 99th at this time last year.
Law believes he’ll be an underrated player until he one days hits himself onto an All-Star team.
Law deserved him as a switch-hitter with some pop. According to MLB Pipeline, he also has an eta of 2023.
Other Cleveland Guardians to make the list
No. 51 Daniel Espino: He’s a hard thrower, who was the 24th overall pick in 2019. His four-seam fastball can touch 100 miles per hour.
NO. 68: Jose Tena: Really campout of nowhere after competing at High A Lake County last season. Packs power for an “undersized guy” and has the arm to play either short or third.