(1984 - )
Valencia was born to a Cuban immigrant and a Jewish mother in Miami, Florida though he grew up just north in Boca Raton. He originally started playing baseball for the University of North Carolina, Greensboro but transfered to his hometown school, the University of Miami, after his freshman year in 2003.
Though he played the majority of his time behind future star, and fellow Jewish player, Ryan Braun, Valencia was able to open many scouts eyes and he was drafted in the 19th round of the amateur draft by the Minnesota Twins, the 576th overall selection. From 2006 to 2010, Valencia bounced around in the Twins minor league system and he was finally called up to make his major leauge debut on June 3, 2010 during which game he recorded his first hit. His first home run was a memorable one as well, being a grand slam off of reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Zach Greinke; it was the first time in the nearly 50 year history of the Twins franchise that a players first career home run was a grand slam.
In 2011, Valencia batted .246, with 15 home runs and a team-leading 72 RBIs. On defense, he led the all major league third basemen in assists, with 260.
Valencia is considered a talkative player and does not shy away from his Jewish heritage. "People are shocked at first that I’m Jewish," he says. "I get teased in the clubhouse about being Jewish, but we all get teased about something. Going to Hebrew school and being a bar mitzvah … made my mom really happy. I wished I had been out playing baseball, but looking back at it now, I’m happy I did it.”
Source: Wikipedia, Baseball Reference, Jewish Baseball News