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El Paso Diablos Sign Fernando Valenzuela Jr.

El Paso Diablos
Photo Courtesy of El Paso Diablos

31 years ago, “Fernandomania” was born. The Los Angeles Dodgers called up Fernando Valenzuela, a lefthanded screwball specialist who baffled opposing hitters. Valenzuela was so dominant in his rookie season, that he won both the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Awards. No other player in baseball history has accomplished those feats in the same season. Not only did Valenzuela sell out games at home, but he also sold out on the road whenever he pitched. The Dodgers beat the Yankees to win their first World Series title since 1965.

Now, the El Paso Diablos are hoping for their own Fernandomania magic. The team announced the signing of Fernando Valenzuela Jr., the son of the former pitching great. Here’s the team release:

EL PASO, TX – The El Paso Diablos are excited to announce the signing of slugger Fernando Valenzuela Jr., the son of famous Dodger, Fernando Valenzuela. The in-fielder, 29, joins El Paso after 9 successful years of professional ball.

Valenzuela Jr. played collegiately at UNLV, before being drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 10th round (281stoverall) of the 2003 draft. In 2003, Valezuela Jr. played 73 games for the Padres low-A team in Eugene, followed by playing  for the Fort Wayne Wizards; leading the team in hits (148) while hitting .295 in 2004. In 2005, he was promoted to Lake Elsinore (A+). In 2006, Valenzuela Jr. was picked up by the Chicago White Sox and played for the Single-A Kinnapolis Intimidators.

In 2011, Valenzuela Jr. hit .359 in 98 games with 387 at-bats and 125 hits, including 24 doubles, eight home runs, scored 40 runs, and drove in 61 RBIs and was named a Mid-Season All-Star for the Mexican League. Before being picked up by the Diablos, Valenzuela Jr. has spent 2012 appearing in 107 games, with 380 at-bats, 119 hits, 30 doubles, nine home runs, scored 37 runs, driven in 65 RBIs and hitting .314/.371/.464 for Yucatan.

Diablos Managing Partner and President, Matt LaBranche, is positive Valenzuela Jr. will make a difference in the Diablos roster. “The acquisition of Valenzuela Jr, will only help us as we make a final push to the American Association playoffs. He’s a great hitter who has put up great numbers in Yucatan of the Mexican League, and will be an exciting player to watch this last month.”

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