|Baltimore Orioles – No. 35|
September 19, 1984 |
|Bats: Right||Throws: Right|
|June 3, 2010 for the Minnesota Twins|
(through 2013 season)
|Runs batted in||156|
Daniel "Danny" Paul Valencia (born September 19, 1984) is an American professional baseball third baseman for the Baltimore Orioles of Major League Baseball. He has also played for the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox.
In high school, he was all-county three times and all-state twice. At the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, he was Southern Conference Freshman of the Year, second-team all-conference, and on his all-regional team. He was drafted while he was a junior at the University of Miami by the Twins in the 19th round of the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft, the 576th player overall.
In the minors, Valencia was an All-Star in the Appalachian League (2006), the Midwest League (2007), and the Florida State League (2008). He entered the 2010 season ranked as the sixth-best prospect of the Twins by Baseball America.
Valencia made his major league debut with the Twins in June 2010. He was named the third baseman on Baseball America's 2010 All-Rookie Team, and on the 2010 Topps Major League Rookie All-Star Team. In 2011, he led the Twins in RBIs, and led all major league third basemen in assists.
Valencia is Jewish, and was born in Miami, Florida. His parents are Mindy Valencia, who is Jewish, and Jewish Cuban immigrant Michael Valencia, who converted to Judaism. He grew up in Boca Raton, Florida. He was raised Jewish, and has said: "People are shocked at first that I’m Jewish. I get teased in the clubhouse about being Jewish, but we all get teased about something. Going to Hebrew school and being a bar mitzvah … made my mom really happy. I wished I had been out playing baseball, but looking back at it now, I’m happy I did it.” Valencia has a sister, Laura.
In 1996, Valencia pitched for the Boca Raton Babe Ruth League 12-and-under all-star baseball team that won the Florida state championship. The next year, he pitched and hit for the Boca Lightning 12-and-under travel baseball team that went 27–2 and won the South Florida All-Star Travel League championship. His two key hitting coaches growing up were Bob Molinaro, a family friend who is a former major leaguer and Eastern League manager, and his mother Mindy.
Valencia played shortstop for four years for the Spanish River High School Sharks. He earned South Florida Sun-Sentinel All-County honors as a junior, and was named first team All-Palm Beach County three times and second-team All-State twice. As a junior in 2002 he was Offensive Player of the Year after hitting .430, and as a senior in 2003 he hit .575.
Although Valencia had dreamed of playing for the University of Miami, its baseball program did not recruit him, and instead he went to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, one of two teams that had offered him a full baseball scholarship. In his freshman year, Valencia played third base and batted .338 with a .527 slugging percentage and a team-leading 8 home runs. He was the 2004 Southern Conference Freshman of the Year, and was voted second-team All-Conference.
University of Miami
Homesick for Florida, Valencia sought to transfer to the University of Miami after his freshman year, even though it only offered him a modest scholarship. UNC-Greensboro initially agreed to release Valencia from his scholarship, but later refused, placing him in jeopardy of losing a year of college eligibility under NCAA Division I rules. He appealed to a university committee which ruled in his favor, allowing him to leave while preserving his eligibility.
During his sophomore year, Valencia played first base for the University of Miami Hurricanes alongside then-third-baseman Ryan Braun. He hit .300 and drove in 63 runs while batting fifth in the lineup, and was named to the All-Regional Team. By his sophomore year of college, he had added 40 pounds. "It's night and day" from UNC-Greensboro, said Valencia. "It's awesome. It's what every Florida kid dreams of. It's the program–the winning, the uniforms. Everything from the strength coach to the facilities is completely different." During the summer of 2005, he played third base for the Anchorage Glacier Pilots in the Alaska Baseball League.
When Braun left to join the Milwaukee Brewers' farm system in 2005, Valencia replaced him at third base for his junior year, batting .324 with a .475 slugging percentage. Valencia hit .312 with 124 runs batted in (RBIs) in 122 games over two years with the Hurricanes, and played in the College World Series. Valencia then played seven games for the Orleans Cardinals in the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2006.
Drafted in the 19th round of the 2006 draft by the Minnesota Twins, the 576th player overall, he skipped his senior year of college to begin his pro career. Valencia was disappointed in his draft position, but said: "realistically, it does not change things for me. My goal has always been to get to the big leagues... It does not matter where you start, but where you finish."
Minor league career (2006–10)
In his first professional season, Valencia played first and third base with the Elizabethton Twins. He compiled a .311 batting average (ninth in the league, and fifth in the Twins' organization) and a .505 slugging percentage (sixth in the league), with eight home runs (fourth in the league) and 29 RBIs in 48 games. He was also fifth in the league in at-bats-per-home-run. Valencia was named a 2006 Appalachian League Postseason All-Star, and then batted .364 in the playoffs.
Valencia was selected as a Midwest League All Star in 2007, while playing with the Beloit Snappers, for whom he batted .302/.374/.500. His Beloit teammates nicknamed him "The Franchise". Manager Jeff Smith lauded him for using the whole field when he batted, and for patience at the plate.
Immediately following the All Star game, he was promoted to the high A Fort Myers Miracle. He earned Florida State League (FSL) "Player of the Week" honors, batting .379 (11–29) with two home runs, three runs scored, and 10 RBIs for the week of July 16th. He hit a combined .297/.354/.462 with 17 homers and 66 RBIs at Beloit and Fort Myers.
Again assigned to the Miracle for the first half of 2008, he batted a league-leading .336 with a league-leading 74 hits, and five home runs and 44 RBIs (second in the league), a .402 on base percentage, and a .518 slugging percentage. He was named a Florida State League All Star, and helped the Miracle capture the FSL 2008 Western Division first half crown. Jim Rantz, director of minor leagues for the Twins, said that he expected Valencia would hit for both power and average.
Valencia was promoted to the Twins' Double-A affiliate, the New Britain Rock Cats, for the second half of the season. With the Rock Cats, Valencia batted .289 with 10 home runs and 32 RBIs. Between the two teams, he batted .311 (sixth in the Twins' system), with 15 home runs and 76 RBIs (fourth in the Twins' system).
With the Rock Cats to start 2009, he was voted the Eastern League Player of the Week Award for the week ending May 24, after batting .444 with a .778 slugging percentage. Rock Cats manager Tom Nieto said: "Danny's going to be a special player. He's got an electric bat." He hit 38 doubles during the season, tied for the most in the Twins' organization.
Following the season, he played 31 games of winter ball with the Arizona Fall League's Phoenix Desert Dogs. He spent spring training with the Twins in 2009 as a non-roster invitee, batting .429, and was assigned to New Britain following spring training. Baseball America ranked him as the fifth-best prospect in the Twins' organization.
During the 2009 season, Valencia first played for New Britain and was then promoted to the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings. He batted a combined .285 with 14 home runs and 70 RBIs for the two teams. The Twins management indicated that it felt that Valencia would be one of the top position players of the future. On November 20, 2009, he was added to the Twins' 40-man roster. Rantz said: "We're still trying to fill the third-base hole. Eventually ... we're all hoping that [Valencia will] be that guy."
He then played for the Indios de Mayagüez in the Puerto Rico winter league, and as a foreign-born player (of Cuban heritage) for Team Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Series. Twins general manager Bill Smith said in December: "I give Danny Valencia credit. He's down in Puerto Rico right now playing winter ball, and trying to get better.... You always want an underdog guy, somebody to step up when presented with an opportunity." Hector Otero, the Twins scout who signed Valencia and who was the general manager of the Mayagüez club, said: "I think he is a talented player. He definitely can throw. He worked on his defense–worked extra before games–and everyone knows he can swing the bat."
Valencia entered the 2010 season ranked as the Twins' sixth-best prospect by Baseball America. Valencia began 2010 playing third base for Rochester, and was batting .292 in 48 games when he was called up by the parent club.
Major League career (2010–present)
Assessing Valencia's hitting during 2010 spring training, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said: “I guarantee you one thing, he can hit a fastball; and if he sits on a breaking ball, he can hit that, too.” On June 3, Valencia was called up to replace Michael Cuddyer, who had been placed on the bereavement list following the death of his father-in-law. In his debut that day, he went 1 for 3.
On July 26, Valencia hit a grand slam off reigning AL Cy Young winner Zack Greinke to record his first big league homer. The feat marked the first time in the 49 years of Twins franchise history that a player's first Major League home run was a grand slam. The game was also his first four-hit performance. The next day, Valencia became the first Twins rookie to have back-to-back games with four hits apiece.
In 2010, Valencia hit .394 with runners in scoring position. That was best in the AL (ahead of Josh Hamilton), among those with at least 75 plate appearances in that situation. On defense, he had the fifth-best fielding percentage among AL third basemen (.973).
For the season, his .311 batting average (the best by a Twins rookie in 46 years), .448 slugging percentage, and .799 OPS were the highest among AL rookies with 300 or more plate appearances. He came in 3rd among AL rookies in hits (93) and total bases (134). In 65 games after the All Star break, he led AL rookies in batting (.311), RBIs (37), and doubles (16).
Valencia was named the third baseman on Baseball America's 2010 All-Rookie Team, and the third baseman on the 2010 Topps Major League Rookie All-Star Team. He was also named the Twins' Most Outstanding Rookie (the Bill Boni Award). He came in third in the voting for 2010 AL Rookie of the Year, with one second-place vote and nine third-place votes.
In 2012, Valencia was replaced by Trevor Plouffe as the team's everyday third baseman after mediocre play during the season. After Plouffe was placed on the DL, Valencia made his return to the Twins roster on July 27.
He was hitting .205 with two home runs with the Twins when he was traded to the Boston Red Sox on August 5. Minnesota received minor league outfielder Jeremias Pineda in return. The Red Sox immediately optioned Valencia to their Triple-A affiliate Pawtucket Red Sox. He was recalled from Pawtucket on August 11 when Will Middlebrooks was placed on the disabled list with a broken right wrist expected to end his season. Valencia was sent back to Pawtucket on August 21, before being recalled again on September 25. He remained with the major league club for the rest of the season, while appearing in six games. On November 20, Valencia was designated for assignment along with four other Red Sox players.
- High School
- 3x First team All-Palm Beach County
- 2x Second team All-State
- 2002 South Florida Sun-Sentinel All-County
- 2004 Southern Conference Freshman of the Year
- 2004 Second team All-Conference
- 2005 All-Regional Team
- 2006 Appalachian League All-Star
- 2007 Midwest League All Star
- 2007 Florida State League Player of the Week (July 16)
- 2008 Florida State League All Star
- 2009 Eastern League Player of the Week (May 24)
- 2010 Baseball America All-Rookie Team (3B)
- 2010 Topps Rookie All-Star Team (3B)
- 2010 Twins' Most Outstanding Rookie (the Bill Boni Award)
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Danny Valencia.|
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors), or Minor League Baseball
- Danny Valencia on Twitter
- "Q&A with Danny Valencia; Beloit Infield Prospect", SethSpeaks.net, June 8, 2007
- "TCD Q&A: Top Prospect Danny Valencia", Brad Weiss, TwinCitiesDugout, September 29, 2008
- "Video Interview of Danny Valencia", mlb.com, January 24, 2010
|Topps Rookie All-Star Third Baseman