Brian McTaggart reports via Twitter that the Astros have signed a minor league free agent coming out of the Yankees system. Jose Valdez (27, RHP) pitched 19.1 innings at their AAA club this year, the proud owner of a 4.19 ERA, 18 strikeouts, and 10 walks. In past seasons, he's struck out around one batter per inning, but walked more than one batter every two innings last season at AA. His control was much better at lower levels, however.
He doesn't have a lot of experience under his belt, but he looks like another promising penny-pinching pickup for the bullpen, ala Jeff Fulchino and Alberto Arias. I couldn't find scouting reports on his pitches and velocity, but I'm going to assume he's a pretty hard thrower given his strikeout rate.
Jose Valdez spent the majority of 2009 in the bullpen of the Trenton Thunder with the exception of a month with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. After showing improvement in his repertoire in July and August, the 6-foot-4, 186 pound Valdez was promoted to Scranton and is ready to contribute.
Ok, so obviously take this assessment with a huge grain of salt, but at one time Valdez was highly thought of in comparison to other Yankee prospects:
Jose Valdez has the highest ceiling..
Of course those other prospects were guys like Chien Ming Wang and Drew Henson...bottom line- the guy missed the boat on being a stud, but he comes as a bargain and an extra arm in case Valverde and/or Hawkins aren't resigned, Wes Wright gets moved to the rotation, etc.