(FREE PREVIEW OF PREMIUM CONTENT)
TwinCitiesDugout.com: Some have called you the Minnesota Twins third baseman of the future. What does that kind of talk mean to you?
Danny Valencia: It means a lot to be recognized for my skills as a third baseman. I work hard to keep improving, getting good jumps and not making too many errors. It is the hot corner but I like playing there. It would be great to be playing third base for the Twins in the near future.
TwinCitiesDugout.com: Tell us about your approach at the plate.
Valencia: I go up to the plate looking for a good pitch to hit. Sometimes I get it and other times I have to take what is given and drive the ball to the opposite field. In certain situations when we have runners on base, I try to move the runner by hitting the other way. The situation dictates but if I am ahead in the count, for sure I am trying to drive the ball.
TwinCitiesDugout.com: How different is the game when you go up a level in the Minor Leagues?
Valencia: The jump up at each level is more difficult since the pitching gets better. It was especially a big jump to AA. More located fastballs and sliders. It took me a couple of weeks to settle in and just do what I usually do and not try to be too pull happy and try to hit homeruns.
TwinCitiesDugout.com: You turned out to be a steal in the 19th round. Does being picked low motivate you?
Valencia: No question that being selected in the 19th round was a big disappointment, but realistically it does not change things for me. My goal has always been to get to the big leagues. You look at a guy like Rob Delaney who wasn’t even drafted and you have to realize that it does not matter where you start but where you finish. You just go out and work hard to try to get to the big leagues.
TwinCitiesDugout.com: What do you do in the off-season to get ready for the grind of a full baseball season.
Valencia: I work really hard in the off season to prepare for the long season. I belong to a gym and in November I usually start working with a trainer about 3-4 times a week doing total body workouts. A lot of legs and core. We do baseball drills outside too. I also hit with a good friend who played in the big leagues and coached minor league baseball. I don’t drink much and I try to eat healthy.
TwinCitiesDugout.com: Do you think going to college and playing collegiately at the University of Miami has helped you become a better player as a professional?
Valencia: Going to college was the best thing I ever did and going to Miami is the best place to play ball. The experience of playing in the College World Series in front of 30,000 people was unbelievable. Also, the players that I played with were all great and pretty much have gone on to play pro ball. It’s like a big family with the U and we all stay in touch. In fact I am going to Chris Perez’s (Cardinals) wedding this November and will see a lot of the guys.
TwinCitiesDugout.com: You have been an All-Star every season in the minors. Is that a goal coming into a given season?
Valencia: I am very competitive in everything I do and want to succeed at every level. It’s great to have made the all-star teams but I really just want to keep getting better and get to the big leagues as quickly as possible.
TwinCitiesDugout.com: What would you consider your best attribute?
Valencia: I think my best attribute is my hitting to all fields. It is what enables me to hit for average. Whenever I get too pull happy, I don’t hit well and it usually does not take me too long to adjust and hit the ball where it is pitched.
TwinCitiesDugout.com: Are you excited about playing in the prestigious Arizona Fall League?
Valencia: Not only am I excited to play in Arizona but very proud to be selected. Not many players get to go and I get to play in a major league uniform. It will be challenging to play with all the top prospects that go there.
TwinCitiesDugout.com: What are your goals for the 2009 season?
Valencia: My goals for 2009 are what they always are. I want to keep improving offensively and defensively becoming more consistent in all aspects of my game.
TwinCitiesDugout.com: Who in the organization would you consider the best pitcher you have faced?
Valencia: I faced a few pitchers who were pretty nasty. Probably Anthony Slama.
TwinCitiesDugout.com: Who would you consider the most underrated players in the organization are?
Valencia: I think Cole Devries and Juan Portes are most underrated, only in the sense they didn’t get promoted to AA.
TwinCitiesDugout.com: What things do you feel you need to work on the most in order to dot a Major League lineup one day?
Valencia: I need to cut down on my strikeouts. Probably with more maturity and at bats I can see myself becoming better and better with 2 strikes. Of course, I am always working defensively to get good jumps at 3B.
TwinCitiesDugout.com: There is talk of you being in Minnesota as early as next season. Is that something you are striving for?
Valencia: It would be great if I make it to Minnesota next season. Hopefully, I continue to improve and the team gives me the opportunity. It would definitely be surreal seeing my name on a big league uniform and in our big league lineup.