Will Cesar Valdez ever get another major league callup with the Astros?
Some players get to the major league level from the minor leagues easier than others. For some, it takes a lot of hard work to stay at the Triple-A level. However, for 31-year-old right-handed pitcher Cesar Valdez, the road has been very long. Now ten years after he made his professional debut in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, he has pitched his way back to the big leagues.
Signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2006, Valdez pitched very well in the early levels of their minor league system. Consistently, he had an ERA under 3.50 with a WHIP hovering around 1.20.
When he got to the Triple-A level in 2009, Valdez started to struggle. His ERA ballooned near 5.00 with his WHIP reaching 1.80. He struggled with control, walking an average of 3.67 batters per nine innings in his two seasons with the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Diamondbacks.
Despite pitching with a 5.90 ERA in 2010, it was time for Valdez to have his shot at the major league level. It did not last long. For about a month, Valdez had a record of 1-2 with a 7.65 ERA and a 1.95 WHIP.
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Not impressed with his major league performance, Valdez was designated for assignment in September of 2010 and was eventually traded to Pittsburgh in December.
After bouncing around in the Pirates and Marlins organizations in 2011, Valdez started to pitch in the Mexican League and was eventually out of baseball in 2014.
After his year off, something must have clicked for Valdez. In 2015, he signed with the Olmecas de Tabasco and was stellar. In 23 appearances, Valdez had a record of 11-6 with a 2.63 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. He cut down his walks to 28 in 160.2 innings pitched and struck out 161. After his 2015 campaign, Valdez signed a minor league contract with the Astros and invited him to spring training and was assigned to Triple-A Fresno.
He has been on a roll ever since. In 29 appearances this season, including 17 starts, Valdez is tied for the team lead in wins with 12 and has an ERA of 3.08. In his last ten outings, Valdez is perfect with a 7-0 record with a 2.45 ERA.
In his last start against the Sacramento River Cats, he threw eight innings of shutout ball, giving up only five hits, walking one and striking out 12.
Valdez is finding success late in his career. That is because he has found more control on his pitches. He has only walked 13 in his 131.1 innings of work in 2016.
Valdez has been a stellar veteran in the Grizzlies pitching rotation.
Even though he has been overshadowed by younger prospects such as Brady Rodgers and Mike Hauschild, Valdez has been as consistent as you can get. And with the amount of late-bloomers currently on the Astros roster such as James Hoyt and Evan Gattis, the Astros have shown that they will give older guys another chance.
Even though he may never be a playmaker at the major league level, Valdez is pitching is trying his best to pitch his way onto a major league roster. These are the kind of performances that make second chances a reality.
***Stats provided by Baseball Reference and MiLB.com***