Four and a half years ago, the Phillies minor league catching depth was so strong they were twice able to trade top prospects in pursuit of top-shelf starting pitching.
In July of 2009, they sent Lou Marson as part of a four-player package to acquire Cliff Lee from the Cleveland Indians. Five months later, they put Travis d’Arnaud in a deal that netted them Roy Halladay from the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Phillies felt they could afford to trade catching because they had more than one potential, future major leaguer within the system, including Sebsatian Valle.
But like Marson and d’Arnaud, Valle is no longer a part of the Phillies future plans either.
The 23-year-old Valle was designated for assignment on Wednesday when the Phillies announced a one-year deal with free agent starting pitching Roberto Hernandez. The Phillies had to make room for Hernandez on the 40-man roster.
Valle was the casualty. Just two years ago, Valle was rated the third best prospect in in the Phillies system by Baseball America.
Valle, signed as an amateur free agent out of Mexico, saw his stock as a prospect rise after hitting .255 with 16 home runs and 74 RBIs in 117 game with Low-A Lakewood in 2010. In 2011, Valle’s power dipped - he hit 5 home runs in 91 games at Class A Clearwater - but he hit .284 and represented the organization at the Futures Game, the annual premiere prospect showcase prior to the MLB All-Star Game.
But Valle’s stock dropped just as quickly in the last two seasons.
Valle hit .253 with 17 home runs in 105 games between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2012, but he also had a ghastly .271 OBP. Valle had 100 more strikeouts than walks (114 to 13, respectively).
After the Phillies acquired Tommy Joseph two summers ago in the Hunter Pence trade, they had a decision to make at the upper levels of the minor league system. Valle was demoted to Double-A to begin the 2013 season.
Valle hit .203 with a .245 OBP in 98 games at Reading last season.
Prior to the 2013 season, Valle generated headlines while playing for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. During a bench-clearing brawl against Canada, Valle used his catcher’s mask to swing at opposing players, drawing the ire of fellow Phillies minor leaguer and Canadian Phillippe Aumont.
Aumont called Valle “stupid” on Twitter immediately following the incident, but apologized for the tweet upon returning to spring training.
"The guy is my teammate,” Aumont said of Valle. “On the field, it was different. What he did, I thought was a little low, but that's none of my business. He's the one who deals with that.”
The Phillies have 10 days to outright, trade or release Valle, and teams will get two days to put in a waiver claim on him.
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