Henry Valencio was one-of-five pitchers with the DSL Marlins this year to strike out over 50 batters.
The Miami Marlins may want to turn their eyes south for less conventional paths to the major leagues. Henry Oswald Valencio is a 6’1″, 170 lb. right-handed reliever from San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic. Born on May 11th, 1999, the now-20-year-old strikeout artist could carve an interesting path to the major leagues.
Valencio just completed his third season of rookie-ball with the DSL Marlins in the Dominican Summer League – each better than the last. In his first look, back in 2017, he rolled up a 7.20 ERA in five innings of work, allowing four runs on six hits and three walks while striking out three.
Stronger, smarter, and a year older in 2018, Valencio collected 38 K’s in a team-fourth 51 2/3 innings, holding down a 4-3 record and a 2.79 ERA. With a team-leading 10 starts, Valencio also appeared three times in relief, with a 1.219 WHIP in 212 plate appearances-against.
For comparison’s sake, it was fortuitous that Valencio also had 212 plate appearances-against in 2019. He walked a few more while allowing fewer hits to land at a nearly identical 1.208 WHIP. He whiffed opponents at a much more prodigious rate, collecting 51 K’s in 51 1/3 innings.
Valencio’s best game this season with the DSL club was likely his outing on July 3rd, when he started and surrendered only an unearned run on two hits and a walk, while striking out five over five innings. He earned no decision, and the Marlins lost that one to the DSL Astros, 6-4. On July 22nd, in a 6-3 loss to the DSL Red Sox (1), Valencio racked up three strikeouts and allowed no runs on only one hit in three innings of relief.
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Despite a solid start to the 2019 campaign, which saw the DSL Marlins in first place as late as the third week of July, the club finished at 34-36, well out of the money in the tough DSL Northwest Division.
Over his three seasons, Valencio’s K-rate has increased from 5.4 to 6.6 to 8.9. Still a very young pitcher, his path to the majors is not at all unprecedented. Current Miami Marlins pitchers who started in the DSL include Jose Urena, Jose Quijada, and Jarlin Garcia.
Valencio has had plenty of time at the rookie level in the Miami Marlins minor league affiliate feeder system. The organization could skip the GCL Marlins – in the lateral-level rookie Gulf Coast League – to send Valencio directly to the short-season-A Batavia Muckdogs, in the New York-Penn League.
A path to the majors for Valencio, in a best-case scenario, would see him on the Miami Marlins 2023 Spring Training roster, and a likely chance to make the team later that season or early in 2024.
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