Potomac right-hander Eddy Valdez is not going to take his opportunity with the Cannons or the Cincinnati Reds organization for granted.
Through all of the highs and lows that come with being a minor league baseball player, Valdez always keeps in mind his mother, brother and five sisters he left behind in the Dominican Republic. He realizes any success he has will have a profound impact on them.
"I am her [his mother's] everything right now," said Valdez through an interpreter. "The main thing that gives me more energy is my family."
Valdez left the Dominican Republic in 2001. He was brought to the United States after playing two seasons in the Dominican Summer League while under contract with the Reds. Potomac Manager Edgar Caceres, then the manager of the Gulf Coast League Reds, was on a trip to monitor the progress of Reds prospects when he determined that the then-21-year-old Valdez was ready for baseball in the United States.
In 2003, Valdez validated Caceres' decision. Splitting time between less advanced Class A Dayton and the Class A Cannons, the native of Nizao wound up leading the entire Reds' minor league system in wins, finishing with a 16-5 record.
This season, Valdez -- signed as an undrafted free agent in 1999 -- is 5-2 through his first 13 appearances. But he has occasionally struggled against Carolina League hitters and has compiled an earned run average of 4.91.
"He has the stuff," said Caceres, who also managed Valdez in 2002 with the rookie league Gulf Coast Reds. "There's no consistency right now. He will have a good outing and then a bad one the next one. He will come around."
If Valdez ever gets too homesick, all he needs to do is look around the Cannons clubhouse where he is one of six Dominican-born players on the roster. The presence of his countrymen has eased his transition to baseball in the United States.
"It feels like a family being out there with other people from my country," Valdez said.