Was signed by the Astros as a 21-year-old nondrafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic on March 18, 2015...at 21-years old, Valdez was five years older than most amateur free agent signees from the Dominican Republic...according to Valdez, other teams had been skeptical of potential arm issues and didn't want to take a chance on him because of his age...Valdez began pitching at the age of 16 and had interest from scouts within a couple of years of his conversion...by the age of 21, Valdez was finally seen by the Astros at a workout staged by an independent trainer in Guayacanes, DR, a small town just west of San Pedro de Macaris...after seeing him throw just a handful of pitches, the Astros invited him to throw at their Dominican Academy and promptly signed him following that tryout...signed by Astros scouts Oz Ocampo, Tom Shafer, Roman Ocumarez and David Brito...Uses his curveball on 33% of his pitches, registering most of his strikeouts on the breaker, which checks in with a spin rate in the 96th percentile of all Major League curves...he learned the pitch from fellow Dominican and former Brewers prospect Angel Ventura, who pitched in parts of eight minor league seasons (2011-19) with the club...Ventura's curveball was nicknamed "The Ax"...Spent his 2019-20 offseason focused on the mental aspect of the game, adopting the mantra "attitude above everything"...he credits this thought process in his improvements made to his focus, composure and on-field body language...Added to the Astros Major League roster in September of 2018...has used one of his three option years...is playing on a one-year contract for the 2021 season.
Had a breakout season, ranking as one of the top pitchers in the AL...was named the Astros Pitcher of the Year by the Houston Chapter of the BBWAA...Among AL pitchers, ranked second in home runs per 9.0 innings (0.64), fifth in walks per 9.0 innings (2.04, 16BB), sixth in innings pitched (70.2), eighth in strikeouts (76), and eighth in strikeouts per 9.0 innings (9.68)...led the Majors in groundball to flyball ratio (3.56) and groundball rate (60%)...generated 114 ground balls, the most in the AL...ranked seventh in MLB and third in the AL in FIP, per Stats Inc. (2.83)...Was one of baseball’s most efficient pitchers, as he ranked fourth in the Majors in fewest pitches per inning (14.8), behind Adam Wainwright (14.2), Kyle Hendricks (14.3), and Kenta Maeda (14.8)...Averaged 2,982 RPMs on his curveball, giving him the 10th-highest spin rate among all MLB curves...Set career-highs in starts (10), quality starts (6) and strikeouts (76), and tied his career-high in innings pitched (70.2) despite the shortened season...Over his 10 starts, went 5-3 with a 3.92 ERA (28ER/64.1IP) and 68 strikeouts...tossed 6.1 scoreless innings as a reliever (one outing)...Posted a career-best 5.6% walk rate, the fifth-best mark in the Majors, as he walked just 16 of 288 batters faced...posted a 15.6% walk rate in his 2018 rookie season, and a 13.4% walk rate in 2019...Made the Astros OPENING DAY roster for the second consecutive year...started Houston’s fifth game of the season...Tossed 6.1 innings of relief, allowing one unearned run in Houston’s 6-5 extra-innings victory on Aug. 2 at LAA...was the longest relief appearance by an Astros pitcher since Shane Reynolds tossed 7.0 innings of relief on July 17, 1994, at PIT...On Aug. 24 vs. LAA, recorded his first-career double-digit strikeout game, as he fanned 11 Angels hitters in 7.0 innings of work...finished all 11 of his strikeouts with his curveball, the fifth-most that any pitcher has gotten on curveballs in one game since the 2008 season...Was one of the AL’s best pitchers in August, posting a 3-1 record with a 1.85 ERA (7ER/34IP) and 38 strikeouts across five games (four starts)...among AL pitchers in August, ranked third in ERA, seventh in strikeouts and tied for sixth in wins...On Sept. 17 vs. TEX, struck out 11 batters for the second time on the season...became the sixth lefty in Astros history to have multiple 11-strikeout games in the same season, joining Dallas Keuchel (4g in 2015), Wandy Rodriguez (2g in 2011 and 2009), Randy Johnson (6g in 1998), Denny Lemaster (2g in 1969) and Mike Cuellar (3g in 1967, 2g in 1966)...Was dominant in the POSTSEASON, going 3-1 with a 1.88 ERA (5ER/24IP), 10 walks and 26 strikeouts in four games (3 starts)...Made his postseason debut in Game 1 of the Wild Card Series at MIN...earned the win in relief after finishing the game with 5.0 scoreless innings...gave up just two hits and two walks with five strikeouts...became the 13th pitcher in MLB history to finish a postseason game with 5.0+ scoreless relief innings, and the first to do it since Madison Bumgarner ended Game 7 of the 2014 World Series at KC with 5.0 scoreless relief innings...became the first AL pitcher to do this since Pedro Martinez in Game 5 of the 1999 ALDS at CLE...became the fourth pitcher in MLB history finish a game with 5.0+ scoreless frames in his postseason debut, joining Joe Price (1987 NLCS Game 5), George Frazier (1981 ALCS Game 2) and Moe Drabowsky (1966 World Series Game 1)...Pitched Houston to a 5-2 win in Game 2 of the ALDS at Dodger Stadium in what was his first career postseason start...tossed 7.0 innings of two-run ball, allowing five hits and one walk with four strikeouts on 103 pitches...became the second Dominican-born pitcher in Astros history to start a postseason game, joining Jose Lima (Game 2 of the 1999 NLDS at ATL)...Started Game 1 of the ALCS at TB...at 26 years, 327 days old, became the third-youngest pitcher in franchise history to start Game 1 of a postseason series...the only two to do so at a younger age were Wade Miller (25 years, 26 days old) in Game 1 of the 2001 NLDS vs. ATL and Brandon Backe (26 years, 191 days old) in Game 1 of the 2004 NLCS at STL...Struck out nine batters in Game 6 of the ALCS at TB, leading Houston to a 7-4 win (1ER/6IP).
Began the season with the Astros, but ended up splitting the season between Houston and Triple A Round Rock...made eight starts with Houston, going 2-4 with a 7.07 ERA (28ER/35.2IP)...in his 18 relief outings, went 2-3 with a 4.63 ERA (18ER/35IP)...started the season on the Astros Opening Day roster for the first time in his career...optioned to Triple A Round Rock on April 11...recalled to Houston on April 21... optioned to Round Rock on June 27...recalled to Houston July 11...optioned to Round Rock on July 16...recalled to Houston on Aug. 25...in six games in April, posted a 2.89 ERA (3ER/9.1IP) with 10 strikeouts...threw a career-high 7.0 innings, allowing one earned run on five hits, while striking out seven batters on June 8 vs. BAL...had a seasonhigh eight strikeouts on June 15 vs. TOR and Aug. 25 vs. LAA...dominated Triple A hitters, posting a 3.25 ERA (16ER/44.1IP) with 69 strikeouts and a .185 opponent batting average in 10 games (seven starts)...recorded three double-digit strikeout games with Round Rock...struck out a career-high 13 batters in 6.2 innings on Aug. 12 at Albuquerque.
Made his Major League debut in August and dazzled over the final two months of the season...generated groundballs at an extremely high rate, posting a 70.3% groundball rate and a 4.27 groundball to flyball ratio... among MLB rookies with at least 30.0 innings pitched, ranked first in groundball rate, second in ERA and sixth in opponent batting average (.175)...was successful as both a starter and a reliever...went 2-1 with a 2.59 ERA (7ER/24.1IP) and 20 strikeouts in his five starts, and 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA (2ER/12.2IP) in three relief appearances... left-handed hitters went just 4x32 (.125) with no extra-base hits against him...began the season at Double A Corpus Christi...was promoted to Triple A Fresno on Aug. 8...was selected to the Major League roster on Aug. 21...made his MLB debut on Aug. 21 at SEA, tossing 4.1 innings of relief...allowed one unearned run on two hits, striking out four while leading the Astros to a 3-2 win...earned his first Major League victory...entered the game in the 2nd inning with two on and two outs and got the Astros out of the jam unscathed...became the fifth pitcher in club history to throw 4.1+ relief innings in a MLB debut, and just the second to do so while recording a win, joining Don Wilson, who threw 6.0 innings and got the win in his debut on Sept. 29, 1966 at CIN...became the second pitcher in Astros history to throw 4.1+ relief innings without allowing an earned run in a Major League debut, joining Joe Musgrove, who went 4.1 scoreless innings his debut on Aug. 2, 2016 vs. TOR...made his first Major League start on Aug. 26 at LAA and tossed 5.0 innings, allowing one run on two hits with three walks and three strikeouts in the Astros 3-1 win...got his second Major League victory and first as a starter...became the fifth pitcher in franchise history to earn a win in his first two Major League appearances... also Bill Dawley (1983), Mark Lemongello (1976), J.R. Richard (1971) and Don Wilson (1966-67)...became the first pitcher in Astros history to go 4.0+ innings pitched while allowing one run or fewer in each of his first four career appearances in the Major Leagues...also became the sixth pitcher in MLB history to start a career like this...also Fernando Valenzuela (7g in 1981), Cliff Markle (5g from 1915-16), Kenta Maeda (4g in 2016), Cody Anderson (4g in 2015) and Drew Smyly (4g in 2012)...also became the second pitcher in franchise history to allow two hits or fewer in each of his first two starts in the Majors, joining Taylor Buchholz (2006)...on Sept. 23 vs. LAA, provided the Astros with 6.0 innings of one-run ball, striking out nine in relief of Charlie Morton, who left the game after the 1st with discomfort in his right shoulder...the 6.0 innings and nine strikeouts both marked new career-highs...became the first Astros pitcher to toss at least 6.0 innings in a relief outing since Dave Borkowski on Aug. 15, 2006 vs. CHC...became the first Astros pitcher to strike out nine batters in a relief appearance since Jerry Reuss fanned 10 batters in 7.1 relief innings on Sept. 22, 1972 vs. CIN...24-year-old also became the youngest left-handed pitcher to strike out nine batters in a relief appearance since a 23-yearold Johan Santana struck out nine batters in 4.1 innings of relief innings on Sept. 2, 2002...in 22 combined games (14 starts) between Double A Corpus Christi (20g) and Triple A Fresno (2g), went 6-5 with a 4.11 ERA (47ER/103IP) and 129 strikeouts...prior to his promotion to Triple A, was leading the Double A Corpus Christi Hooks in strikeouts with 120, which also ranked second in the Texas League...was a Double A Texas League Midseason All-Star...named the Astros Minor League Pitcher of the Month for July after posting a 0.40 ERA (1ER/22.1IP) in four appearances, including three starts...had his best minor league start of the season on July 30 vs. San Antonio, tossing 7.2 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits, while punching out 12.
Went a combined 7-8 with a 4.16 ERA (51ER/110.1IP) and 126 strikeouts in 25 games (18 starts) between Double A Corpus Christi (12g) and Class A Advanced Buies Creek (13g)...impressed in five Spring Training games with the Astros as a minor league call-up, striking out seven batters in 7.0 innings...began the season at Buies Creek, where he went 2-3 with a 2.79 ERA (19ER/61.1IP), 29 walks, 73 strikeouts and a .185 opponent batting average in 13 games (9 starts)...his final start at the level was a gem on June 28 vs. Carolina...struck out 11 batters over 8.0 innings of one-run ball, surrendering just three hits...was then moved up to Double A Corpus Christi where he posted a 5-5 record and a 5.88 ERA (32ER/49IP) with 53 strikeouts in 12 games (9 starts)...pitched in the Arizona Fall League in 2017, going 1-1 with a 3.20 ERA (7ER/19.2IP) and 14 strikeouts in six starts for the Mesa Solar Sox.
Pitched at four levels in the Astros system, combining to go 4-5 with a 3.19 ERA (26ER/73.1IP) and 79 strikeouts...began the year at Rookie Level Greeneville...allowed two runs in two starts and 10.2 innings (1.69 ERA), striking out 15...was named the Appalachian League Pitcher of the Week for the week of June 27-July 3...threw 6.0 shutout innings on July 2 vs. Kingsport, striking out eight and allowing one hit...moved up to TriCity and went 2-1 with a 3.74 ERA (9ER/21.2IP) and 28 strikeouts in five games (2 starts)...was promoted to Class A Quad Cities and also found success, posting a 3.06 ERA (12ER/35.1IP) and 35 strikeouts with one complete game in six starts...ended the year at Class A Advanced Lancaster, making one start (3ER/5.2IP).
Began his professional career with the Dominican Summer League Astros, going 4-1 with a 3.68 ERA (15ER/36.2IP) and 36 strikeouts in 16 games.