The High Point Rockers haven’t played a single baseball game yet, but already the team is losing players to the big leagues.
On Friday, April 12, the team announced that Rockers player Jesmuel Valentin was being signed by the Baltimore Orioles organization.
“His time with the team did not last long,” a statement from the Rockers read, “but Jesmuel Valentin already has a historic note in his High Point Rockers career. The 24-year-old infielder, who was signed by the Rockers earlier this week, has had his contract purchased by the Baltimore Orioles, making him the first High Point player ever to be signed by a Major League franchise.”
Valentin got the offer before the first ever game of the High Point team that’s set to open up a shiny new stadium in downtown High Point early next month.
Team officials said they’re sad to see Valentin go but they are proud of the fact that Major League Baseball grabbed a Rockers player. On Friday, the team released a statement with the all caps headline of “HISTORIC FIRST! ROCKERS HAVE FIRST PLAYER SIGNED TO MLB TEAM.”
Rockers manager Jamie Keefe said on Friday that the team’s emotions were mixed.
“We knew that Jesmuel had the ability to get back to affiliated baseball,” Keefe said. “While we were hopeful to have him put on our uniform and play in front of our fans, we are pumped for him and look forward to watching him on TV in the near future.”
The son of former MLB All-Star player Jose Valentin, Jesmuel will now be assigned to Double-A Bowie in the Orioles organization. In his last stint at Double-A with the Reading Phillies, Valentin hit .276 during 89 games with five homeruns and 38 runs batted in to his credit, while sporting a .975 fielding percentage.
He was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first round of the 2012 MLB Draft and then, in 2014, he was traded to the Phillies. After spending parts of three seasons at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, he was called up to the major leagues early in the 2018 season. Born in Puerto Rico, Valentin made his major league baseball debut in April of 2018 and went on to play in 46 games.
The High Point Rockers will start their inaugural season, without Valentin, later this month, with their home opener being on Thursday, May 2 in the new $36 million downtown ballpark named BB&T Point.