Valera slugs first Triple-A homer ... and second

August 20th, 2022

It took George Valera nine games with the Clippers to club his first Triple-A home run. And he must have really liked the feeling because he only waited two innings to hit his next one.

The second-ranked Guardians prospect mashed a pair of jacks to help power Columbus to a 7-4 victory over Toledo at Huntington Park on Friday night.

Valera was promoted to the Clippers on Aug. 9. Entering action on Friday, the 21-year-old was 6-for-29 with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored with Columbus. He nearly doubled that with two swings of the bat on Friday.

After an 0-for-2 start in the contest, MLB's No. 32 overall prospect stepped in against 27-year-old right-handed reliever Shea Spitzbarth with two outs in the sixth inning. After taking a pitch outside for ball one, the next offering from Spitzbarth came in right over the heart of the plate and Valera barreled it up. The lefty-swinging slugger send a moonshot to right that the opposing outfielders could only stop and watch as it made its way for the scoreboard.

The solo blast was the second of the inning for the Clippers and padded their lead, 5-0.

In his following plate appearance, in the eighth, Valera faced righty Logan Shore with one out and the bases empty again. After jumping ahead 3-1, the Queens, N.Y., native swung through a fastball to make the count full. The sixth pitch of the at-bat was another heater, in a nearly identical spot as the previous pitch, and Valera did not miss this time. He sent another rocket to right-center for his second tater of the game.

Valera opened the season at Double-A Akron where he posted a .264/.367/.470 slash line with 15 dingers, three triples, 17 doubles, 52 walks, 64 runs scored and 59 RBIs over 90 games with the RubberDucks. Friday marked his second multihomer game of the season. His first was on May 19 with Akron when he collected three knocks, two walks, and drove in a season-high five runs.

Valera moved from New York to the Dominican Republic at age 13 and blossomed into one of the best hitters in the 2017 international class, signing for $1.3 million. A broken hamate in his right hand in 2018 and the lost 2020 Minor League season limited him to just 58 games in his first four years as a pro before he finally made a successful full-season debut in 2021. He reached Double-A at age 20 last year while recording a .910 OPS with 19 homers and 11 steals in 86 games, after which Cleveland added him to its 40-man roster. 

Valera possesses a loose left-handed stroke with quickness, rhythm and balance. He recognizes pitches and manages the strike zone better than most players of his age and experience, regularly making hard contact. Always one of the youngest players at his level, that trend continued when the 21-year-old made his Triple-A debut on Aug. 9.