Valiquette healthy, enjoying ride
Reds prospect records two outs at Futures Game
ANAHEIM -- After missing the entire second half of last season with soreness in his pitching elbow, Reds Minor League reliever Philippe Valiquette has come back strong, with a performance that landed him on the World Team for the XM Futures Game held Sunday at Angel Stadium.
Valiquette pitched two-thirds of an inning in the World Team's 9-1 loss, closing out the seventh inning and allowing only a walk. But it has been quite a journey getting to this point for the Montreal native, who has overcome injuries and a brief stint out of baseball in 2006 to establish himself as a top bullpen prospect with an electric fastball.
"It's a great honor being here; it's real big," said the left-hander. "It's always fun to be selected, it's a great honor. I'm real happy about it."
After a short time out of baseball in 2006, Cincinnati's seventh-round pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft has used a fastball nearing 100 mph to put up impressive numbers in the Reds' system, including a 2.58 ERA in 44 combined appearances last year between Class A and Double-A. This season, between Double-A Carolina and Triple-A Lousville, Valiquette is 2-1 with a 4.12 ERA and four saves in 34 appearances, with 31 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings pitched.
The important thing for Valiquette at this point has been staying healthy.
"It's been good so far," he said concerning his pitching elbow. "A little bit of soreness throughout the year, but nothing major. Hopefully it stays like that for the rest of the season.
"Arm strength is still the same pretty much from the beginning of the season. There's no issue so far there. It's still staying strong."
Valiquette is still a work in progress for the Reds, and the 23-year-old has an idea of what he'd like to improve on as he works his way toward a shot with Cincinnati at the big league level.
"The command has been better, but I would still like to be a little more consistent," said Valiquette, who was selected to pitch for Team Canada in last year's IBAF World Cup but did not participate due to his sore pitching elbow. "There's always a little bit of room for improvement. That's what I'm trying to work on right now.
"The changeup, I'd like to get it more consistent, throw it for a strike more consistently, also refine a little bit more my slider. Besides that, I'm pretty happy with the results so far."
David Venn is the lead editor of MLB.com's Spanish site, LasMayores.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.