What started out as a down 2013 season for Phillies minor league catcher Sebastian Valle ended up Saturday night on the Isla de Margarita Venezuela on a high note. He hit a grand slam home run in a six run, sixth inning to help power Mexico to a 7-1 win in the 2013 Caribbean Series over Puerto Rico in a six game tournament for supremacy of Latin American winter ball.
Once the top Phillies catching prospect, the 23 year old Valle had fallen so low in the Phillies system catching pecking order after hitting only .203 at Reading last season, he was taken off the 40 man roster. He was placed on waivers where none of the other 29 teams claimed him and he returned to Phillies property unwanted by every major league team.
Valle started to turn it all around in the Mexican-Pacific League this Fall and Winter playing for his home town team, Los Mochis. He hit .303 during the regular season for them but had only two homers and still had not turned the corner from a power prospective.
Always having success in minor league playoffs, Valle continued to hit for average getting 13 hits in 13 games including a homer for a .302 average in the Mexican-Pacific playoffs. But Los Mochis was eventually eliminate from the playoffs. However, the eventual winner of the Mexican post season, Hermosillo, picked him up for the Caribbean Series.
Valle did not disappoint them, catching four of the six games in the Series, he went 5 for 15 with two homers and drove in seven runs to help power Hermosillo to win the Series over teams from Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and in the final game over Puerto Rico. The power that was missing all season from Valle came back in the post season ending in his final at bat, a grand slam to help win it all.
Winning championships is nothing new to Valle. He was the catcher in the Phillies 2008 GCL championship team and then hit three home runs in leading Lakewood to the 2010 South Atlantic championship. Not to many other 23 year old professional baseball players can claim to have been the winning catcher on three championship teams in their brief pro careers.
Valle will get a couple of days rest I would image and then report with other pitchers and catchers to open the Phillies spring training camp this Thursday. Perhaps the best thing that ever happened to him was the message of getting dropped from a major league 40 man roster; then not being pick up by any other major league team and returning to the team that let him go.
Still only 23 years old with an impressive resume for winning the big series, Valle will get another chance with the Phillies this spring. We will be watching to see if he can carry over his outstanding play from winer ball to parlay it in Grapefruit League action to get him back into major league prospect status that he once had in the Phillies system. After all no team ever has enough good young catching.