Scouts never questioned Valdespin's raw tools, but they cautioned that the young middle infielder's game required a lot of refinement. Playing shortstop every day at Double-A may have afforded Valdespin that extra incentive he needed to mature. He's swiped 16 bases in 19 tries on the year, and in June he's turned on the power (five homers, .733 slugging) and tuned down the strikeouts (11 percent of at-bats). His performance may prove to be a statistical blip, but the Mets have to be happy with what they've seen lately.It's 100% true that two and a half hot weeks may be a blip. Or they may not be.
On the other hand, I just don't buy that playing short stop gave Valdespin the "incentive" to mature. The incentive to be a better hitter would be in place whether he was playing second, short or catcher. Minor league ballplayers always have an incentive to improve. They're getting lousy paychecks in small towns. You don't think they see the big leagues in the distance? If we're talking about a major offensive improvement with Valdespin, and a surprising power surge, we should be talking about hitting mechanics and an improved approach.
"Needed a lot of refinement," is a gentle turn of phrase that's vague here and borders on code. It could be a catch-all for his both his on-field and off-field behavior. 1. On the field, it's fair. In the past, Valdespin was fairly undisciplined at the plate, expanding his zone regularly. I saw him carelessly muff plays in the field. 2. Off the field, it's fair too. Remember, the Mets basically suspended him for the better part of June and July in 2009. Was BA describing both sets of issues in five words or less? If so, well played, although few might interpret that phrase as carefully or fully as I have here.
A scout described Valdespin's game to me recently as "flashy." His 15 errors in 55 games are significant and point to the scout's complaint, that he does not make all of the routine plays. He needed in Baseball America's word to be more "refined." Is he there yet? His error totals and his walk rate say no, but it's a process, and he's clearly well along in that process.