The goal of any player in Triple-A is to play well enough to force the big league team to bring him to the major leagues. Danny Valencia has certainly done that. He's been having a very solid year with Triple-A Norfolk and now, after a recent batting tear, he is back in the big leagues, joining the Orioles today.
Valencia is in today's starting lineup, batting seventh as the DH.
"Everybody wants to do well," he said this morning in the Orioles clubhouse. "I was able to get off to a good start, like many other guys down there. It's the best situation when you feel like you deserve a chance. I've been up other times when I wasn't swinging the bat well and got called up. It's nice knowing you are coming up and you've been swinging the bat pretty well."
Valencia's bat has been red-hot in the minors. Over his last 10 games he was hitting .356 with seven homers and 17 RBIs, leading all minor leaguers in homers and RBIs over that stretch. Valencia has 13 extra-base hits in 15 games this month, with five doubles and eight homers.
"The streak I've been on down there was probably one of the better streaks I've had in my career. I felt like when they gave me a mistake I hit it pretty hard. It was definitely a good feeling and hopefully it carries over here," he said.
"The whole lineup has been doing well. You can't pitch around anyone in that lineup and I was getting good pitches to hit and I was able to capitalize on some mistake pitches."
On the year, in 40 Tides games, Valencia was hitting .306 with 14 doubles, 11 homers, 35 RBIs, a .600 slugging percentage and a .939 OPS. Against left-handed pitchers at Triple-A, his average was .324 and his OPS 1.219, and Valencia hit six homers in just 37 at-bats.
In the latest International League stats, he is tied for first in homers, second in RBIs and extra-base hits, and fifth in slugging.
A career corner infielder and Norfolk's starting third baseman most of this season, Valencia had started his last two games there in the outfield. It wasn't a position change for him but he embraced the change to give it a shot out there.
"I wanted to go, I was happy to be out there," he said. "Never had played outfield before. I felt comfortable. It was fun and I did all right. I feel decently comfortable over there."
Valencia is no stranger to the majors. He has played in 283 career games for the Twins and Red Sox. He was the starting third baseman for Minnesota in 2011, batting .246 with 15 homers and 72 RBIs.
He was told before yesterday's game in Durham that he was heading back to the majors. What does he hope to bring to the Orioles?
"Maybe some versatility, right-handed bat and a guy that can play a few different positions," Valencia said. "We'll see how it goes. Hope I can get off to a good start and help this team win."