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George Valera is ready to face any challenge

Morning news and notes for Friday, Feb. 24, 2023

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2022 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

While I can’t speak for everyone, I think it’s safe to say that most of us at Covering the Corner (readers and writers alike) are rooting for George Valera to succeed. Not just because he could someday wear a Guardians uniform in the majors, but because he’s the kind of big personality that makes sports fun — not to mention he has some beautiful bat flips.

The confidence that he displays on the field doesn’t leave when he’s in interviews either, as he recently spoke with’s Jesse Borek and was anything but timid.

“When I’m in the box, I don’t care who you are,” Valera said. “I’m going to compete and I’m going to try to beat you. It doesn’t matter if you’re my mom or my dad, I’m going to try my best.

“I don’t really see it as Major League or Minor League pitchers. I just see it as competition and somebody I got to beat right now.”

This upcoming season will be a pivotal one for Valera, as he looks to rebound from hamate bone surgery in the offseason; he could be knocking on the door to the majors sooner rather than later. He will also be looking to shake the growing concerns about his strikeout rate that left him off of FanGraphs’ recent top-100 prospect list and have some wondering what his major-league ceiling can be. Right now, it’s still pretty damn high.

Cleveland Guardians news

Former Cleveland Guardians workhorse Bryan Shaw inks minor-league deal with White Sox | Away Back Gone
Is it bad that I thought Bryan Shaw was retired, or at least wouldn’t get another offer and would slowly drift off to retirement? Wrong on either case, apparently, as he recently signed a minor-league deal with the White Sox. Even with total of 714.2 innings across 12 MLB seasons, Shaw’s arm might still have some life — he’s 35, which is on the older side but still definitely doable as a career reliever.

It’s almost hard to believe that, despite all the years that he was great in Cleveland in the mid-2010s, his career-high innings total came in 2021 with 77.1 innings pitched.

Is Oscar Gonzalez’s power on the upswing? Guardians spring training roundup | Cleveland
Terry Francona offers a pretty level-headed view of launch angle when talking about Oscar Gonzalez here. Essentially, he sees it as a byproduct of being able to identify pitches you can get in the air better and taking advantage of them.

“As you gain at-bats and experience, all of a sudden now you see a hanging breaking ball and your eyes light up because you know you can get the ball in the air.”

From the outside it can be easy to say “well just hit the ball higher,” but this is the kind of thing you need between the numbers and a player to get a change to occur. It doesn’t matter how the messaging is getting there, as long as it’s getting there in an effective way.

ZiPS 2023 Top 100 Prospects | FanGraphs
Here is how the cold, calculating heart of ZiPS sees the current prospect landscape. It’s important to keep in mind that ZiPS projections, even for prospects, are pure numbers — no scouting or future values here. Just another interesting way to look at prospects.

Nine Guards made the top 100 here (the most of any list, as far as I know?), with one notable exception being Gavin Williams.

Top 100 Players Right Now: No. 1 revealed | MLB
Prospect lists may be little more than a fun sideshow to see what outlets think of your favorite team’s prospects, but at least they are offering insight into a group of players that don’t get a lot of screen time. Ranking current MLB players has even less utility, but here is one from anyway, which includes five Guardians. You should definitely care where they are ranked and be very mad about it.

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