If the Philadelphia Phillies did anything in the Roberto Hernandez trade, it could be something as important as finding Chase Utley‘s long-term replacement. Jesmuel Valentin is a name most baseball fans recognize, at least the surname, as he was the “PTBNL” in the Hernandez deal.
Usually, those who fall under that acronym are non-performing, low-level minor league “projects” with good arm, speed and reflexes, but not necessarily good numbers. It looks like Valentin has all of those qualities plus the numbers, in addition to strong bloodlines (his dad is former MLB player Jose Valentin).
Until a few days ago, people called him a “Loon” and he was proud of it — not a left-wing or right-wing Loon, just a Loon as in the nickname of the Great Lakes team he played for in Single-A baseball, a farm team of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The second player, still unnamed, is undergoing some physical tests, and the Phillies should acquire him in a couple of days if all goes well.
The key thing about the Valentin acquisition is that it comes in an area of need for the Phillies, second base. Current second baseman Utley is three or so years from hanging up the spikes, and Valentin could develop into a decent replacement for him if he continues his progression. He started at second base for the Loons this season and hit .282 with 22 doubles, nine triples and seven homers.
If he can continue at that pace next year in Double A and two years from now in Triple-A, he could be ready to replace Utley at second. If he does, that’s a pretty good name for a player who didn’t have one a few days ago.