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PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 5:56 pm 
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For Valenzuela, The Future Should Be Now


In June of 2031, Jose Valenzuela was a 19-year-old kid with a 100 MPH left arm and a gold-plated future. Then he tore his labrum, and he became just another kid on the mend.

“I never felt like that before,” he said. “It really sucked grass. I mean, one minute I was thinking I was ready to be throwing baseballs in Yellow Springs, and the next I couldn’t raise my hand to dial an Auto-car.” Valenzuela had surgery a week later, and then came months of physical therapy. “When I got to spring camp, I was ready,” he said.

2032: A Year Of Small Steps

The team let him throw some innings with the big club in the spring, then sent him to Fort Worth to start the season at the A-Level, an act that the rambunctious kid understood, but didn’t like. “I’m a major leaguer,” the now 21-year-old said. “I thought that then, and I think it now.”

“We like that Jose thinks big,” one scout said. “But sometimes he gets delusions of grandeur.”

Regardless, Valenzuela posted mediocre numbers in Texas (1-5, 4.97 ERA), but his sidecar numbers, 44 strikeouts in 58 innings, and solid control, were enough to convince the Nine to promote him in the middle of the season. Valenzuela responded well, tossing a 3.40 ERA in 8 starts in Santa Clara so far, and adding an 80 FIP- for those interested in the newfangled numbers. With two weeks left in the season, all indicators are “steady as she goes.”

“It’s been a great year for Jose,” said Assistant GM Howard Dunlap. “We were all rooting for him, and other than a little hamstring problem that slowed him down a little, he had a healthy year. That’s what’s most important.”

TEAM REPORT:

The gritty details on Valenzuela are solid. The team’s scouts rate his overall talents at an 8/7/5, and think he’s looking nearly fleshed out. His repertoire still consists of that 100 mile an hour fastball that has a nice tail on it…scouts call it an 8 already, and a slider that’s a match for the fastball. His changeup is solid enough to get AA and AAA hitters out, but some scouts would like to see Valenzuela take another step with it.

“If he can get that change working, then, yeah, maybe we’ll see LaLoosh, Chavez, and Valenzuela. But until then, the kid’s gotta go to work.”

WHAT TO EXPECT:

Though it’s clear that Valenzuela thinks his name is likely to be penciled in under LaLoosh and Chavez next season, one suspects it will start being penciled into rotations in either Santa Clara or AAA Flagstaff—with the team hoping he’ll be ready for Flagstaff.

Some in the organization are beginning to whisper that his slight frame may not be enough to keep him in a major league rotation, but that his raw talent might suggest a move to the bullpen as he steps higher into the organization.


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