JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Minnesota Twins rookie Danny Valencia is the 13th Jewish athlete to play major-league ball this season.

Valencia, a 25-year-old third baseman from Boca Raton, Fla., made his MLB debut on June 3 after more than three years in the Twins’ farm system, where he was a three-time all-star. He is batting .304 with 1 RBI and a .360 on-base percentage in 16 games with Minnesota.

Valencia’s arrival in the big leagues is nothing if not unlikely. College powerhouses didn’t offer him scholarships out of high school, so he ended up at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. After being named Southern Conference Freshman of the Year, he transferred to the University of Miami, where he competed in the College World Series.

“The first year (at Miami) we borrowed up to the top of my head for him to play there,” said Mindy Valencia, a retired accountant. “This was a big sacrifice for the whole family, but we knew how much he wanted to go there. Him going there was going to be this possible trip to (the College World Series in) Omaha.”

But Valencia’s success didn’t make him especially attractive to MLB teams. After his junior year at Miami, the Twins selected him in the 19th round. Only two of the 30 players drafted in that round have made it to the majors: Valencia and LF Chris Pettit, who had 7 at-bats last year with the Los Angeles Dodgers and currently is playing in the Dominican Republic’s winter league.

How much playing time Valencia will get this season is unclear. He is one of four 3Bs on the Twins’ depth chart, along with Nick Punto (36 games at 3B in 2010), Michael Cuddyer (10 games), and Matt Tolbert (6 games). The pop that Valencia’s bat showed in prior years — he finished the 2009 minor-league season with 14 home runs, 70 RBIs and a .466 slugging percentage — has strangely disappeared. He was homer-less in 185 at-bats with the AAA Rochester Red Wings this season and has only one RBI and one extra-base hit in 46 at-bats with the Twins.

Jewish Baseball News thanks the reader who tipped us off that Danny Valencia is Jewish, a fact we were able to independently confirm.