DUNEDIN, Fla. __ The Phillies acquired Jesmuel Valentin in an afterthought trade three Augusts ago. He was a former first-round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers and has major-league bloodlines; his father, Jose, played for 16 seasons.
Last season, he became more than a long shot. He earned prospect status with an addition to the 40-man roster, and the Phillies big-league coaching staff saw enough in the early stages of Grapefruit League games to imagine him as a possible bench option for 2017.
"He showed really good base-running instincts, and I think that's the way he was advertised," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "He's got real good instincts on the basepaths. We're going to put him at shortstop a little bit to see what he can do over there."
Valentin, 22, has a career .348 on-base percentage in the minors. He reached triple-A Lehigh Valley last season and figures to return there as the starting second baseman opposite top shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford.
If there is a spot in the majors as a backup, Valentin is willing to adjust. He smacked a two-run double in Thursday's 8-8 tie with Toronto. He also walked.
"I signed as a shortstop," Valentin said. "Right now, it's a little bit difficult having played second base every day for the past three years. So it's a little bit different of a position. You have to move more. The throw is going to be a little bit longer. But I'm trying to work every day there so I can manage myself. Every single time they need me to do a job there, I will be ready."
The Phillies received Valentin and injured relief prospect Victor Arano from Los Angeles in a trade for Roberto Hernandez. Former Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. made that deal in 2014.
Valentin served a suspension for most of 2015 stemming from a domestic-violence incident.
The Phillies blew a three-run lead in the ninth with non-roster pitcher Pedro Beato on the mound. They settled for their second tie in as many days. . . . The offense feasted on a former teammate, Brett Oberholtzer, in the fifth inning. Oberholtzer allowed four runs and did not record an out. . . . Dylan Cozens walked and struck out. He has six strikeouts and two walks in 11 plate appearances this spring.