Sebastian Valle Scouting Report (2010)
On the way to the park to see Philadelphia Phillies catching prospect Sebastian Valle, I knew I was in for something special when a scout I was speaking to kept asking me, “What did you think of Valle?” When I finally mentioned it was my first time seeing him, his response, “Oh, I’m not saying anything else. Just call me and tell me what you think.” For whatever reason, I had a picture in my mind of a hulking power prospect doing his best catcher impression while putting off the inevitable move out from behind home plate. It’s safe to say, my preconceived idea of the player Valle was was prior to watching him play was off base.
Physical Projection: Instead of the big bodied catcher I was expecting to see, Valle turned out to be well-proportioned and athletic. His quick, fluid movements combined with explosive power leaves him as arguably the best catching prospect I’ve had the opportunity to scout. As he continues to mature, he may add a bit more size through the back and shoulders. Should fill out to 6’1″, 200 lbs. or so, he would be left with the ideal catcher’s build combining athleticism, as well as the strength and durability required for the position.
Offense: With quick hands and explosive wrists, Valle generates excellent bat head speed through the zone and put on a show, both in batting practice, and game action. In hitting two home runs, as well as a double and 400+ foot fly ball, Valle showed close to elite in-game power. In the eight or so at bats plus batting practice I was able to see, Sebastian Valle was the most impressive bat on the field including Jonathan Singleton.
Of course it’s also important to also look at Valle’s deficiencies which became apparent when breaking down his video. With a pronounced upper cut swing, Valle’s bat head remains in the zone for a short time which explains some of the swing-and-miss in his approach. However, his swing plane levels out quite a bit in batting practice leading me to believe he can find a happy medium. Additionally, his swing is high effort causing him to swing out of his shoes on occasion. Once again, another trait indicative of a prospect with a tendency to strike out.
In general, I look at prospects like Valle with significant pre-swing movement and almost always conclude that it needs some quieting. In his case, however, his movements come to an abrupt stop pre-swing leaving him in a strong hitting position. If there is truly an area which could use some quieting, it’s his leg kick as it’s easy to envision such a pronounced load and need to uncoil would leave him susceptible to offspeed pitches.
Defense: While Valle needs some refinement defensively, I saw nothing which would lead me to believe he can’t be at least a functional big league catcher. His home-to-second times between innings were so-so, but .10-.15 of a second could quickly be knocked off that time should he improve his transfer pre-throw. A key in releasing the ball quickly is funneling the ball from the glove straight to the ear. In Valle’s case, his hands make more of a semi-circle to his ear instead of a straight line after receiving the ball with one hand. It’s a repairable flaw, but one which will require re-training muscle memory.
When receiving and blocking, the only real red flag I was able to spot was a tendency to let pitches to his backhand side take his glove which cost a few strikes in game action. Instead, I’d like to see him get around those pitches and work them back in towards the plate.
Speed: He’s athletic enough to not clog the bases. However, he has absolutely no stolen base ability to speak of which is fine because he’s a catcher.
After seeing Valle play a couple of times, I understood the excitement surrounding him in the scouting community. Personally, he’s in the top-4 of position prospects I saw last season with teammate Jonathan Singleton, Colorado Rockies farmhand Nolan Arenado, and New York Mets prospect Cesar Puello. Valle will probably never be a high average hitter, but his power and athleticism from the catching position leaves him as a coveted commodity. Should the Philadelphia Phillies need a bat or two at the 2011 trade deadline, expect Valle to be at or near the top of any trade potential trade partners shopping list as catchers with 20-25 home run pop are hard to come by.
24 Jan 2014 / Mike Newman /
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