Rays Prospects

Takeaways From Tampa Bay Rays’ Winter Ball Results Part 5

By Robbie Knopf
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Aug 31, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson (58), starting pitcher Drew Smyly (33),starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi (23) and teammates look from the dugout against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field. Boston Red Sox defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Velazquez: He isn’t quite as advanced as the numbers would say

Velazquez, acquired by the Tampa Bay Rays in the Jeremy Hellickson deal, was excellent as the starting shortstop for the Diamondbacks’ Low-A South Bend affiliate. Overall, he hit to a .290/.367/.428 line with 18 doubles, 15 triples, 9 homers, 56 RBI, and 50 stolen bases as a player 2.5 years younger than the Midwest League’s average age. It is difficult not to be impressed by that.

Then Velazquez headed to the Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League and opened even more eyes. When the Rays acquired him, Velazquez was hitting to a .405/.419/.571 line with 2 homers, 4 RBI, and 3 stolen bases through 10 games. Scouts were raving about both his tools and his approach at the plate. But then Winter Ball continued and Velazquez fell down to earth.

Velazquez finished with a .278/.327/.356 line in 99 plate appearances in the RCPBL. He did fine, especially given how much younger he was than his competition, but let’s not go crazy as we say how talented he is. The good news with Velazquez is that he is an excellent runner with the ability to be quality defender at shortstop in time. Working against him are his issues with pitch recognition and questionable power.

If Andrew Velazquez can continue making progress as he moves up to High-A Charlotte in 2015, he has the ability to become one of the Rays’ top prospects. He certainly is the type of high-upside player the Rays were looking for in exchange for Hellickson. For now, though, let’s keep the hype down as we wait to see how he will fare this season and beyond.