In Valentin, Dodgers select polished defender
Son of former big leaguer was teammate of No. 1 overall pick
PHILADELPHIA -- Jesmuel Valentin might have enjoyed more visibility as a prospect because he's the son of former Major Leaguer Jose Valentin, but he also was "under the shadow" of Carlos Correa, the first overall pick by Houston in Monday's First-Year Player Draft and Valentin's double-play partner.
Valentin came out from the shadows when the Dodgers selected him with the 51st overall pick, a compensation pick for the loss of free-agent catcher Rod Barajas.
Valentin played second base to Correa's shortstop for the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and High School, but Dodgers assistant general manager Logan White said Valentin will begin his professional career as a shortstop, even though the club also took a high school shortstop with its first-round pick, Corey Seager.
"I want both to play shortstop and let the development process take its course," said White. "We have to figure a way to rotate, maybe have Valentin play second and short. It's possible he'll wind up at second and possible Seager will move to third, but we have options. Good options."
Valentin verbally committed to LSU, but White is confident he will sign. The slot figure for the 51st pick is $984,700.
Valentin is worth the 51st pick, White said, because he's a switch-hitter, a polished Major League defender with a chance to be an offensive player in the middle of the diamond.
"I was sweating. I didn't think he'd get to 51," said White.
Valentin is 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, having taken up hitting left-handed only a year ago. White said the experiment will "absolutely" continue.
Jesmuel is the eldest of three sons of Valentin, who told Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com last year that the youngest, Yomar, will be one to "watch out for in a few years." In 2010, Yomar played in the Little League World Series.
Jose Valentin played with the Dodgers in 2008 for his 13th Major League season and retired after going to Spring Training with the Mets in '09.
"I want people to look at me because I have the skills, not because my name is Valentin," Jesmuel told Gonzalez. "I think I'm a good player and I have a lot of passion for the game. I have it in my blood. I play hard, and I give it my all, 100 percent."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.