George Valera Turned 50 Pesos Into A Professional Baseball Career
This 2700 word feature article was originally published for the now defunct Official Guardians Baseball Insider during my coverage of the High-A Lake County Captains for the 2021 MiLB season
The Cleveland Guardians had one of the most unproductive outfields in all of baseball during the 2010s, ranking 25th in fWAR, 26th in wRC+, 27th in OPS, 28th in runs scored, and 29th in home runs in comparison to collective outfields fielded by the other 29 teams during the 2010s.
The centerpiece of Cleveland’s lauded 2017 international free agent class, George Valera’s presence at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario has been seen as one of the potential answers for the three black holes that have been Cleveland’s outfield spots.
The 20-year-old outfielder is in line for a unique opportunity by potentially being one of the first prospects in Cleveland’s farm system to debut as a Guardian based on the current trajectory of his ascent through the minors.
Where it began
It all started in The Bronx, New York, where Valera grew up with his father Jorge, mother Delubina, along with an older brother and sister for the first 13 years of his life. The tight-knit household nurtured his love and advanced feel for the game. His entire family supported his dream to be a professional baseball player from an early age, taking him to tournaments where he was already identified as one of the best in his age group.
At the age of seven, he signed a contract with his father that he would not quit on his dream of reaching the big leagues and that he would put all his effort towards doing so. His mother is an encouraging woman who kept him focused on his education, and it shows that he is a very well-read and intelligent individual.
“My mom has always been extremely involved in my education. She pushed me to study hard and do my best no matter what. For example, during my first year of pro ball, Cleveland let me know of their plans to let me play in the Arizona Rookie League (AZL) instead of starting in the Dominican Summer League (DSL) while I was in Extended Spring Training. When I told my mom, she immediately brought up the idea of me playing in the DSL instead so I could finish my…