After a midseason promotion to Binghamton last year, infielder Jordany Valdespin
continues to make steady improvements during his second season with the club.
Through 46 games with the B-Mets, Valdespin's average stands at .262. In 164 at-bats, he's tallied 43 hits and 14 RBI, and has shown both speed and power with two triples and home runs.
Valdespin got off to a slow offensive start this season, but a nine-game hitting streak to open the month of May helped turn things around. During that stretch, he went 16-for-37, highlighted by a three-hit performance against the New Britain Rock Cats
where he came just a single short of the cycle.
Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2007, Valdespin's offense has been consistent though not overwhelming. Before being promoted to Double-A last season, he hit .289 with Class-A St. Lucie, recording 78 hits in only 68 games while driving in 33 runs.
For Valdespin, heightening his awareness at the plate has had a big impact on his offensive production, as reading opposing pitchers and anticipating certain pitches has continued to be an integral part of his game.
"For me every pitcher is the same, and I don't have a problem with the pitchers," he said. "When you see the ball you hit the ball, but if you know how the pitcher throws and what their best pitch is when you hit, or they throw a [certain pitch] in a situation, then you can expect what they will throw."
Though the 23-year old has experienced success, he has also been criticized for being a "free-swinging" batter. Through his entire minor-league career, he's attacked pitchers early in the count and has struggled to draw walks.
"I like to swing at everything in the strike zone, but now I'm here to help the team and I need to take a couple of pitches to help them," he said. Valdespin has also worked closely with B-Mets hitting coach Luis Natera to work deeper into the count.
"I like to take the first pitch, but if it's in the middle I swing because I like it. But I also try to hit the best pitch and every good pitch," he continued. "[When I do this] the guys behind me and the guys on deck can know what to hit."
On the defensive end, Valdespin has spent time on both sides of the infield, but has found a home at shortstop as teammate Josh Satin has played second base. Regardless, he has continued to work at both positions knowing he may be needed as a utility infielder.
"I was playing the whole infield, but now I'm working on shortstop because the organization wants me there," he said. "I'm working hard, more at shortstop than second base. But you never know what's going to happen during the season. I'm playing [shortstop] now and I'm working hard, but you never know."
Binghamton manager Wally Backman has also helped improve Valdespin's overall game, as the first-year manager spent nine seasons as a middle infielder with the New York Mets
"He's helped me a lot," Valdespin said of his manager. "He's a good guy, and he's helped me a lot defensively. I listen to him to try and play the game the right way."
Valdespin, a Dominican native, continues to adjust to the Eastern League, but insists he is comfortable where he is. The biggest struggle thus far has been the weather, as a cold April dampened the start of his 2011 campaign.
"Hot is better," he said. "When it's freezing it's freezing, and you can't do anything about it. But for Latin guys it's much harder because sometimes the weather changes and you play better when it's hot."
BINGHAMTON, NY - Jordany Valdespin's 2011 season has not been the strong all-around effort expected of him before the season began. Nevertheless, the B-Mets shortstop has contributed in a number of ways for a lineup that is - at the very least - struggling. As for Valdespin, he understands he has room to grow, which is something he's focused on for the remainder of the season.
Binghamton shortstop Jordany Valdespin knows there is still plenty of work to be done.