Amaro Top Offensive Player for the North Jersey Eagles
Date: Jul 29, 2017
After just three years, Justin Valdespina has fulfilled his ultimate goal as a collegiate baseball player.
It’s not a deep postseason run through the Division II East Regional, though. It’s not a school wins record or an ACBL All-Star nod, either.
For Valdespina, becoming a professional baseball player was always the goal.
The Southern New Hampshire University pitcher was drafted in the 15th round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies last Saturday.
“Hearing your name called on Draft Day is an unreal experience,” Valdespina said. “You dream about it as a young kid, and it’s an incredible feeling when it actually happens. You put in countless hours of work throughout your life, and, in one moment, it’s all worth it.”
He inked his first pro contract soon after and has already joined the Grand Junction Rockies, Colorado’s rookie-ball affiliate.
“As soon as they call your name, everything happens very fast,” Valdespina said. “A representative of the team called me immediately, welcomed me to the team, and began scheduling my flight. I got to Grand Junction two days after I was drafted.”
Despite the quick transition from student-athlete to professional ballplayer, “Valdy,” as his teammates call him, took some time to reflect on his collegiate career, including his final season of summer collegiate baseball spent in Ridgefield Park with the North Jersey Eagles.
Valdespina, whose older cousin Jose is a right-handed pitcher in the Texas Rangers organization, shined atop North Jersey’s rotation last summer, compiling a 3-3 record and 2.60 ERA in eight starts. He was also one of seven Eagles named to the 2015 Kaiser Division All-Star team and tossed a perfect inning in the ACBL All-Star Game.
“Playing with the Eagles was a blast,” Valdespina said. “I got the chance to develop as a pitcher, and I made some great friendships along the way. The coaching staff does a great job managing the team and helped me take my game to the next level.”
Now, though, a whole new list of career goals awaits Valdespina as he takes his first step into professional baseball. Certainly a call-up to the big leagues ranks near the top of the list. But, before worrying about his first time toeing the rubber at the Rockies’ Coors Field, the Garfield, New Jersey native is settling into his new digs 250 miles west of Denver.
“Valdy” doesn’t yet know when his first appearance with the Grand Junction Rockies will be, but he’s ready to check off the box next to that career goal, whatever day it occurs.
“I want to get my feet wet this summer and come out and execute whenever I’m called upon,” Valdespina said. “Beyond that, I’m looking to keep getting better and show everybody that I have the drive to succeed. The Colorado Rockies are a great organization, and I believe I can climb up the ladder and help them win.”
By: Dominick Savino