Framber Valdez, Dominican Republic, Houston Astros

November 4, 2022

Matthew Tallarini, Chief Correspondent WORLD BASEBALL NETWORK

Framber Valdez, born in Sabana Grande de Palenque, Dominican Republic, has lived up to his mark playing at the Major League level since being called up in 2018.  Valdez is completing his fifth season in the Major Leagues with the Houston Astros and marking his first all-star season campaign of his career, where he received the win for the American League in the All-Star game out of the bullpen in Chavez Ravine.  Valdez has posted career numbers this season with three complete games and 17 wins in his 2022 season.  Valdez was signed with the Astros with a $10,000 signing bonus during the 2015 international free-agent acquisition period.  Two Astro Scouts attended the open tryout to witness specific components of his mechanics. They recognized that he could locate his pitches to the plate and pick up velocity efficiently, with just six pitches being thrown at an organized tryout in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic.  Valdez was 21 years old when he signed his first professional contract.  He was five years older than most prospects that would be signed during their teenage years, usually for the international signing period out of his home country. 

Valdez would be assigned to the Dominican Summer League complex for the Houston Astros to start his professional career during the 2015 season.  He would go 4-1 with a 3.68 earned run average in 36 2/3 innings pitched in his professional debut season.  During the 2016 season, Valdez would jump around Single-A for most of the year, leaving lower operations personnel for Houston to question his stats and mechanics when playing at the Rookie Ball level out of Spring Training.  After his first full season in Single-A, Valdez would record a combined 3.19 earned run average in 73 1/3 innings pitched, with one home run allowed and 79 strikeouts.  Heading into the 2017 season, Valdez would find confidence coming out of Spring Training by being assigned to High-A and putting up solid numbers before heading to Double-A Corpus Christi during the year’s second half.  Valdez’s numbers during his first opportunity at the Double-A level were 5-5 with a 5.88 earned run average in 49 innings pitched and 53 strikeouts. 

Entering the 2018 season for Spring Training, Valdez would set his eyes on proving that he would make it to the majors.  Out of Spring Training, Valdez would record a 1.42 earned run average with 6 1/3 innings pitched and six strikeouts to earn a spot starting in Double-A Corpus Christi.  Valdez eventually would get the call to Triple-A Fresno later in the season.  During his time with Triple-A Fresno, Valdez went 2-0, with a 4.15 earned run average in 8 2/3 innings pitched with the ball club before being called up to the Houston Astros.  Valdez would make his Major League debut on August 21st, starting against the Seattle Mariners, going 4 1/3 innings pitched, with two hits allowed, no earned runs, and four strikeouts.  Valdez finished his 2018 season with the Astros going 4-1, holding a 2.19 earned run average, in 37 innings pitched, with three home runs allowed and 34 strikeouts. Valdez returned to his home country for the 2018-2019 winter league season to tweak some of his mechanics and pitch with Aguilas Cibaenas for a few games. Valdez started in five games for Aguilas, going 1-1 and posting a 4.0 earned run average for the season. 

Going into the 2019 season, he would have many adjustments to work around, as he would start in Triple-A with the Round Rock Express ball club going 5-2, with a 3.25 earned run average, starting in 7 games, and hauling 69 strikeouts before once again being called up to the Astros.  Valdez would split time out of the bullpen and starting job with the Astros to close out the second half of the season, going 4-7 in 70 2/3 innings pitched with 68 strikeouts.  The following season during the Covid-shortened year, Valdez would have to adjust with the Astros before being labeled back on the roster for the 60-game sprint.  He would once again split his time between the bullpen and the starting role going 5-3, with a 3.57 earned run average in 10 games, starting with 70 2/3 innings pitched and 76 strikeouts.  Houston would fall short against the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Championship Series on the way to their second consecutive season appearing in the World Series.

Valdez entering Pitchers and Catchers of the 2021 season, would hit the injured list suffering a fractured left finger off a hard-hit ball by SS Francisco Lindor during a Spring Training game.  Valdez would eventually return right before June and return to the starting role.  Valdez would go 11-6 with one complete game in 22 starts during the 2021 season before helping the Astros reach the World Series, where they would fall short to the National League Champion Atlanta Braves. 

During the 2022 season, the Houston Astros would again evaluate Valdez for the starting role. Valdez would post a 17-6 record, going over 200 plus innings pitched and 194 strikeouts for the American League Champion Houston Astros. Valdez pitched in Game 2 of the World Series and struck out nine batters in 6 1/3 innings pitched. In Game 2 of the World Series, Valdez’s father, Jose Antonio Valdez Ramirez, flew from the Dominican Republic to witness his son pitch for the first time in the Major Leagues.  Valdez’s father did not travel in recent years due to his fear of flying until recently attending his son’s start.