A few years ago, the Milwaukee Brewers and New York Mets made a seemingly minor trade, but it has turned into anything but.
On January 5th, 2019, the Brewers sent strikeout-prone outfielder Keon Broxton to the Mets in exchange for reliever Bobby Wahl, 2018 4th round pick RHP Adam Hill, and a little known 18-year-old second baseman who had just played in the Dominican Summer League named Felix Valerio.
Wahl was constantly hurt and couldn’t stick with the Brewers. Hill was traded a year later to Seattle as the key piece in the Omar Narvaez trade, which has paid huge dividends for Milwaukee as well. But the real prize is looking like it’s Felix Valerio.
Valerio signed for only a $10,000 bonus coming out of the Dominican Republic. He had a solid DSL debut, hitting .319/.409/.433, but he’s 5’7″, and didn’t have an overall standout tool. Valerio essentially was a lottery ticket the Brewers took a chance on, not expecting that he would turn into a stud hitting prospect, but here we are.
If you aren’t already on the Felix Valerio train, it’s time for you to get on it.
— Biloxi Shuckers (@BiloxiShuckers) May 15, 2022
Valerio always hit for a high average to this point in the minor leagues. He hit .319 in the DSL in 2018, then hit .306 in Arizona-Rookie in 2019 after the trade. Last season, between Low-A and High-A, Valerio hit .290 on the year. He was hitting .314 in Carolina before the promotion late in the year. His batting average dipped in High-A Wisconsin, but he nearly doubled his season home run total in far fewer games.
Valerio showed increased power potential, but would it come at the expense of an over .300 average? In 2022, he’s shown the ability to continue to hit for both power and average and he’s doing it in Double-A.
As of May 25th, Valerio is hitting .250 with a .771 OPS, six home runs, and 12 stolen bases in 144 plate appearances. He’s also walked 13 times and has struck out 21 times. He has walked about as much as he’s struck out in his minors career (133 walks to 134 strikeouts).
With his success now continuing at the proving grounds of Double-A, it’s become clear that Valerio is no longer just a lottery ticket or a question mark. He is a bona fide prospect, and someone you should be paying attention to with his blend of speed, hitting ability, and power.
Being such a small guy at 5’7″ and 165 pounds, most may not expect this to continue as Valerio goes up the ladder, but he’s shown that he can so far, and he wouldn’t be the first of his stature to do it.
One of the easiest comps to make for Valerio because of his size and skill set is Jose Altuve of the Astros and he’s putting up similar numbers to what Altuve was doing when he was coming up through the minor leagues. They both started off with very little home run power, but have added strength as they have gotten older and that power has followed. The OPS numbers are close and Valerio is actually moving up faster than Altuve did. Altuve spent 52 games of his age-21 season in High-A before a promotion to Double-A while Valerio started his age-21 season in Double-A.
He’s a second baseman and is limited defensively, but the offensive potential is what’s exciting here.
If you’re looking for an under-the-radar prospect that is about to become on everyone’s radar, it’s Felix Valerio.