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Luis Valbuena


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Just wondering what everyone thinks of him. I've become a big fan in the last couple weeks (can you tell?) and Castro just touched on it today.


CLEVELAND -- Luis Valbuena was the less-heralded of two prospects the Indians called up to the big leagues May 2, but he's the one still here.


Back at that point, fans might have expected that by the time the Indians welcomed the Brewers into Progressive Field for a three-game Interleague set -- a series that continues Tuesday night -- former Milwaukee No. 1 Draft pick Matt LaPorta might be a regular in the Tribe outfield.


But LaPorta has since been optioned back to Triple-A Columbus, and Valbuena is the one who has been given an extended opportunity to prove himself at the big league level.


The Indians acquired Valbuena from the Mariners over the winter because he added valuable middle-infield depth. They viewed him as a potential regular at second base, but they sent him to Triple-A Columbus at the start of the season to get finished off as a prospect. He batted .321 with four doubles, two triples, three homers and 13 RBIs in 22 games for the Clippers.


Now with the Tribe, Valbuena has surprisingly become a regular in manager Eric Wedge's lineup.


"I feel good right now," Valbuena said, "because I'm playing every day."


Wedge has made no secret of the fact that he's a fan of the 23-year-old Valbuena. Wedge likes the defense Valbuena provides up the middle, both at second base and shortstop, and he feels his at-bats have been better than the statistics indicate.


"You can't look at the numbers," Wedge said. "As long as you see improved plate discipline and pitch recognition, that's what we're looking for."


Valbuena showed his improvement in those areas when he drew two walks off Dave Bush in his first two at-bats Monday. But he entered the series with the Brewers batting .185 with eight doubles, one homer, three RBIs and a .256 on-base percentage.


"His strike-zone awareness is going to have to continue to get better," hitting coach Derek Shelton said. "It's a matter of swinging at the right pitches at the right time. But he's shown an ability to work through his at-bats. He'll have a young at-bat every so often where he doesn't work pitchers into the count he wants. But it's not something that's a big concern. He's going to continue to get better and better at it."


Valbuena's certainly been afforded the playing time to do so. And with Asdrubal Cabrera on the 15-day disabled list, Valbuena has begun getting regular starts at shortstop -- a position he never played with any consistency in the Minors prior to this season. He's looked like a natural in the role.


"Defensively, he's been outstanding," Wedge said. "He seems to be a fierce competitor."



I love his defense, his competitiveness and he looks like he can become a real impact player. The average isn't there yet, but his eight doubles in 84 ABs show he can swing the bat. He hasn't shown his speed yet, but averaged 16.5 steals in 4 full minor league seasons. A career .272 hitter in the minors, but hit over .300 in his 80 career games in AAA.


I love the potential. Should be a fixture for years at 2B until someone (mainly Phelps or Kipnis) comes along.


I figure he could be a pretty good piece of debate between the "human eye" guys and the statisticians.

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