Heading into spring training this year Jordany Valdespin was a bit of an afterthought for the New York Mets. He didn’t seem to have a spot available for him in the Mets middle infield, which is his natural position. He also appeared to be on the outside looking in for an outfield spot, a position he has started to learn over the past year. But with his play this spring, he has forced himself into the conversation for a roster spot, and is stating a strong case to be included on the opening day roster.
Valdespin played baseball all winter long, and so when he got to spring training he was in shape, in rhythm, and ready to play. With injuries to Daniel Murphy and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, there was more of an opportunity for Valdespin to get playing time in Grapefruit League games, and he has taken full advantage of that. Valdespin has swung the bat well all spring, including a leadoff homerun against Justin Verlander in Monday’s game, his third of the spring. All spring training Valdespin has reminded everyone of the immense talent that he possesses.
Of course, talent has never been the issue with Valdespin. Holding Valdespin back has always been his work ethic, attitude, and consistency. No one should be surprised that he has performed well during the spring, but what he has to do is somehow prove that he can maintain that focus and drive for a full season; and when the season starts he needs to show the Mets that he can be a team-first player. If he can do that, Valdespin would give the Mets a great athlete that’s a viable defender at all three outfield spots, a player that could potentially hit in the leadoff spot, and a left-handed bat off the bench with power; all things the Mets could use, which is why Valdespin’s strong performance this spring has been such a pleasant surprise.
With each passing day and each hit Valdespin gets, the odds of him making the Mets opening-day roster appear to increase. But what’s going to get him on the roster and keep him there once the season begins are things that go well beyond the box score, all of which are areas where Valdespin still has a lot to prove.