Black MiLB Players #21: George Valera

Equipped with a sweet swing, an advanced approach, & a unique story, George Valera is aiming to be the best left-handed hitter of his generation

Patrick Ellington Jr.
5 min readOct 19, 2022

George Valera is a 21-year-old outfielder in the Cleveland Guardians system from San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. Born in the United States, he spent the first half of his life living in The Bronx, New York before moving back to the Dominican Republic with his family. He signed with the Cleveland Guardians organization during the 2017 J2 signing period for international amateur free agents for a signing bonus of $1.3 million as one of the top prospects in his class.

A feature article I wrote on him while covering the Lake County Captains for Guardians Baseball Insider during the 2021 MiLB season delves more into his childhood growing up in The Bronx, his family, his experience moving across the world at the age of 13, and his professional baseball career up to this point:

Valera’s professional career started with 6 games in the Arizona Complex League in 2017 before a wrist injury sidelined him until the next season. In 46 games with Cleveland’s Short-Season A-Ball affiliate during the 2018 MiLB season he posted a .802 OPS, drawing walks and accruing extra base hits at a high rate. He ranked seventh in the league in home runs, fifth in walks, and 20th in OPS while being one of only six 18-year-olds on a New York-Penn League roster.

After the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the 2020 MiLB season, he broke out in 2021 with a .260/.405/.505 slash line in 86 games between High-A and Double-A at the age of 20. He hit 19 home runs, struck out 88 times, and drew 66 walks in 363 total plate appearances. In the month of July, he went .229/.413/.494 with six home runs before upping the ante in August with a .301/.478/.639 slashline that included another nine home runs.

Playing 132 games between Double-A and Triple-A in 2022, the 21-year-old outfielder went .250/.353/.463 with 24 home runs, 82 RBI, and 74 walks across 566 plate appearances. Valera only logged five plate appearances versus younger competition. He made an appearance in the 2022 MLB All-Star Futures Game, representing the Guardians organization. I spoke to him about it amongst other things in an article I wrote for MLB’s official website during the 2022 season. You can find it here:

Player Profile

George Valera is around 6'0'’-6'1'’, and weighs around 200 pounds. Broad shoulders, thick forearms/wrists, and tapered midsection points to upper body strength in spades with a fit lower body with long legs for his height. He bats and throws left-handed, and primarily plays right field but has experience at the other two outfield positions.

He stands in the batter’s box with an extremely open set up, keeping the bat on his shoulder and his front foot diagonal to the one at the opposite end of the box. He starts with a leg kick that varies in length as a timing mechanism before stepping into a swing that eerily resembles those of Robinson Cano and Carlos Gonzales. Yes, the same exact bat waggle and hand movements with that nice follow through and midsection rotation.

Valera’s effectiveness as a hitter begins with his advanced approach and ability to see spin out the hand early. Throughout his professional so far he has never posted a walk rate below 11% at any level where he logged more than 20 games played, doing so versus far older competition. His ability to discern strikes and balls is computer-esque. He combines this with a great hitter’s mind and timing ability, being able to turn on high velocity fastballs and anticipate slower secondary offerings. His K rates have hovered in the low 20s in the upper minors, mostly related to his approach at the plate and less to do with his ability to make contact.

His loose, fluid hands and ability to rotate his midsection allows him to make hard contact to all fields due to elite bat speed. The majority of the balls he puts in play are ground balls and fly balls to his pull side, only posting a pull rate below 40% once in his professional career. He can flatten his swing path and fight off fastballs at the top of the zone for singles and doubles up the middle. He has some issues making contact and accessing his power against left-hander pitchers, but his on-base skills allow for reasonable on-base percentages that helps curb some of the concern of platoon limitations.

Valera focuses on using the natural loft in his swing to spray hard hit fly balls all over the diamond, showing adeptness at turning on pitchers on the inner half of the plate for extra bases. I saw him hit an opposite field home run over 400 feet with a confirmed 108 miles per hour exit velocity at the age of 20 in person, which illustrates how advanced he is in the batter’s box compared to his peers.

On the defensive side Valera runs clean routes and makes solid reads in right field to go with a solid and accurate throwing arm. He is not a defensive liability in any aspect, but does not necessarily stand out in any facet either. He isn’t a base stealer by any means either, projecting as someone that will provide value by taking extra bases when the ball is put in play while he’s on the base paths.

Further Reading



Patrick Ellington Jr.

I use this blog to cover Black baseball players from all over the African diaspora in MiLB & MLB and review TV series, films, novels, comic books, anime,. etc.