As cliché as it sounds, the intangibles are exactly what makes Bisons second baseman Jordany Valdespin a special player, and he could be the long term answer at the position for the Mets.
In a game against the Durham Bulls on Aug. 12, the Bisons held a 3-2 lead in the top of the ninth inning at home, and most fans all but penciled in the win for Buffalo. It was then that a hard hit ball was shot up the middle and to the right of second base.
Valdespin – playing second base – killed the game-tying rally before it started when he sprinted to the hole and snagged the hard-hit ground ball. After procuring the grounders, he jumped and fired a fadeaway bullet to first base to rob the Durham hitter of a sure base hit and secured the victory for the Bisons.
The work that Valdespin has put in has paid off judging by his performance this season.
"I'm working hard every time," Valdepsin said. "If you play hard every day you can make those plays. You come in early every day and focus; taking infield is the first thing I do every day. The pitcher is happy when you're making those plays."
The play was magnificent and it came as no surprise to Bisons manager Tim Teufel who hasn't found anything that the young infielder can't do on a baseball diamond.
"[Jordany] is an excitable guy," Teufel said. "You sit there and you watch his tools…He has that team speed that he'll bring for us. We don't have many guys that can run like him. You can overcome a lot of things with speed."
Valdespin excels at every area of the game and has really developed into a top-tier talent. In Binghamton before he got the call up to Buffalo, he hit .297 in 107 games with 15 home runs and 51 RBI. He stole 33 bases in Double-A and enjoys having some freedom on the base paths.
In each game that Valdespin plays, he's actively looking to impact the game with his speed. He enjoys helping out his teammates by putting additional pressure on opposing pitchers and sometimes even scoring on hits that most players aren't fast enough to risk a play at the plate.
In Buffalo since the promotion on Aug. 10, Valdespin has played both second base and shortstop and doesn't have any problem with moving around the infield if it's what the manager needs him to do.
He's been so comfortable in fact, he hit safely in the first three games of his Triple-A career. He attributed the success he's had this season to maintaining focus at the plate.
"[Wherever you are playing] It's the same baseball," Valdespin said. "You see the ball, you hit the ball, and run hard every time. It's the same. You have to stay concentrated at home plate and be ready for your pitch."
Staying focused is the obvious goal for every ballplayer but it can be difficult over the course of a long and sometimes slump-filled season. Valdespin stressed how important preparation is before the season even begins.
"You have to prepare in the offseason," Valdespin said. "We play a long season with like 400 or 500 at bats, so you have to prepare for that. You have to work hard in the weight room, run, throw, and be prepared for spring training…You can't think about it being the minor leagues, you play like it's the big leagues."
With September call ups right around the corner, playing in the big leagues may not be a distant proposition for Valdespin, who is on the 40-man roster. If he gets the call it'll surely be a dream realized.
"It's fun when they call to the office and say you're going to the big leagues. It's great because everyone is here and everybody want to play in the big leagues," Valdespin said. "I don't think about that though, I focus here first and the time spent working hard every day…You have to have focus."