George Valera

22-Year-Old OutfielderOF
Cleveland Guardians AAA
Injury Wrist
Est. Return 3/30/2023
2023 Fantasy Outlook
Valera wasn't bad in 2022, but he isn't trending in the right direction after his age-21 season. The left-handed slugger hit for plenty of power (30.1 Hard%, .463 SLG, 24 HR), but his .250 average and 25.6 K% across Double-A and Triple-A weren't ideal marks for a player with his pedigree. As has always been the case, Valera has more value in OBP leagues (.353 OBP, 13.1 BB%) than AVG leagues. There is still a chance he will do more than enough at the plate to profile in left field or at designated hitter. However, Cleveland all of a sudden has a crowded depth chart in the upper levels, so Valera will have to earn his opportunities. Any speed contributions from Valera in the majors will be a bonus. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a $1.3 million contract with the Indians in July of 2017.
Sent down to Triple-A camp
OFCleveland Guardians  AAA
March 12, 2023
Valera (wrist) was optioned Sunday to Triple-A Columbus by the Guardians, Mandy Bell of reports.
Valera has been bothered by a wrist injury, but he wasn't a real candidate to make the Opening Day roster regardless of health. The 22-year-old is widely considered one of the better hitting prospects in the Cleveland system, however, so there's a very good chance that he will make his MLB debut before the close of the 2023 season.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
A well-known prospect since being a prized international signee on July 2, 2017, Valera finally got a chance to play a full minor-league season in 2021 and he broke out in a big way. He hit .260/.405/.505 with 19 home runs, 11 steals, an 18.2 BB% and a 24.2 K% in 86 games as a 20-year-old at High-A and Double-A. It's easy to see where the appeal lies with Valera, as anyone who can hit for significant power while also walking over 15% of the time at age-appropriate levels has a chance to eventually profile as a middle-of-the-order force. He suffered an oblique strain after one week of play but showed no ill effects when he returned after four weeks. Valera is an average runner who is a bat-first player all the way, but fortunately he has a decent chance to hit enough to profile in left field. The left-handed hitter showed pronounced splits (.751 OPS vs. LHP, .946 OPS vs. RHP), and he will need to be passable against same-handed pitching to avoid sitting against at least some lefties. Already added to the 40-man roster, Valera will likely return to Double-A for his age-21 season before getting a midseason bump to Triple-A, which will set up an early 2023 MLB debut.
Valera is trending up thanks to a strong showing at Cleveland's alternate training site. He had played just six games above short-season ball when he was added to the 60-man player pool, but Valera held his own next to Double-A and Triple-A players all summer. He fell into some bad habits in 2019, selling out for power at times, and it may have helped that he was learning and developing in a controlled environment at the alternate site where he could receive the best coaching and instruction the club had to offer. As Valera's body has matured, he no longer projects to steal double-digit bases or stick in center field, so it will be all about him hitting enough to profile in left field. He has a good eye at the plate and should grow into plus power, so the tools are there for him to develop into a middle-of-the-order run producer. Look for him to spend most of his age-20 season at High-A.
One of the top prospects from the July 2, 2017 international signing class, Valera was able to log his first healthy season, spending most of the year as the second-youngest hitter in the New York-Penn League before getting a brief taste of the Midwest League. He ranked third in the NYPL in BB% (15.4) and sixth in ISO (.210). He was only 18, but his .236 AVG and 27.7 K% were still a little disappointing -- a potentially plus hit tool was supposed to be his calling card. Valera is very capable of using the whole field and still projects to make contact at a solid clip, but he may have sold out for power at times. He is thicker than he was when he signed and has slowed down as a result, which means his bat needs to be good enough to profile in left field (he has a fringe-average arm). Valera's development remains fluid, but he clearly has the upside to be a middle-of-the-order run producer.
A year ago many evaluators viewed Valera as the second best hitter from the July 2, 2017 international signing class, behind Wander Franco, who is now a top five prospect in baseball. What should have been a buzz-worthy pro debut for Valera was cut short when he broke his hand after just six AZL games. He underwent surgery in July, and will be ready to make up for lost time in spring training. While Valera was signed out of the Dominican Republic, he grew up in New York and did not move to the D.R. until he was 13, so he did not deal with the same cultural adjustments that most 16-year-old J-2 signees are faced with. Given how advanced he is at the plate, the Indians could realistically send him to the AZL, the New York-Penn League or even Low-A if he really impresses this spring. Valera projects as a center fielder with a plus hit tool. He should eventually develop plus power while chipping in 10-to-20 steals in his early MLB seasons.
More Fantasy News
Doing bat-handling exercises
OFCleveland Guardians  AAA
March 7, 2023
Valera (wrist) is doing light bat-handling exercises, Mandy Bell of reports.
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Could require MRI
OFCleveland Guardians  AAA
March 1, 2023
Guardians manager Terry Francona said Wednesday that Valera (wrist) could undergo imaging in the coming days, Zack Meisel of The Athletic reports.
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Exits with wrist discomfort
OFCleveland Guardians  AAA
February 28, 2023
Valera had to leave Tuesday's game against the Royals with right wrist discomfort, Mandy Bell of reports.
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Recovered from offseason surgery
OFCleveland Guardians  AAA
February 26, 2023
Valera is starting in center field and batting eighth in Sunday's spring training game against the Rangers.
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Recovering from hand surgery
OFCleveland Guardians  AAA
January 26, 2023
Valera recently underwent surgery for a broken hamate bone in his right hand, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
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