GARY, IN 2-1-2011 – Catcher Mike Valadez will return to Northwest Indiana as a member of the Gary SouthShore RailCats for the 2011 season after being acquired shortly after the All-Star break in 2010 from the Tucson Toros of the Golden League.

Valadez, 24, will enter his fifth season in professional baseball and his second in the independent ranks after spending 2010 with the Toros and the RailCats. The RailCats acquired Valadez to bring some experience and defensive prowess to the catching position. Valadez’s strong-arm acted as an effective deterrent to would-be base stealers as opponents only averaged one steal attempt per game against him. Perhaps the most compelling statistic to display his value as a catcher is the 19-7 record the RailCats posted in games which Valadez started. With the bat, Valadez got off to a slow start with the ‘Cats but found his rhythm during a red hot month of August which saw him post a sparkling .341 batting average in 16 games. Valadez was even more efficient in games at U. S. Steel Yard batting .400 in 12 games with an outstanding .471 on-base percentage and a .500 slugging percentage.

Valadez spent three seasons in the Cleveland Indians organization before joining the independent ranks in 2010. A highly-skilled defensive catcher, Valadez brought with him a right arm that has cut down more than a third of the runners trying to steal against him in three affiliated seasons.  Valadez threw out 54-of-135 (40.0%) runners from 2008-09.

Selected in the 26th Round of the 2007 Major League Entry Draft by the Indians, Valadez hit .240 in 27 games for the Indians New York-Penn League affiliate that summer, and split time between Mahoning Valley and Lake County (South Atlantic League) from 2007-09.  Valadez put up the best power numbers of his career in 2009, cracking four home runs and piling up 24 RBI in 52 games at Lake County (A).

Valadez attended NAIA Lee (Tenn.) University where he helped the Flames to the NAIA World Series as a senior.  A native of Los Angeles, Valadez now makes his offseason home in nearby Pasadena, California.

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