Rays 2016 Top 50 Prospects: Number 27, Andrew Velazquez
Rays Top 50 Prospects includes a tremendous number of high-quality prospects. We at RCG are bringing you an in-depth look at those we consider to be the Top 50.
While gathering as much information as possible from various sources, we’re going to put it all together for your enjoyment and raise the bar on what you expect from a prospect knowledgable site. Stay tuned, check-in often, and please let us know how we’re doing.
Being such a lengthy process, some encouragement will go a very long way. We hope you’ll enjoy reading this series as much as we enjoy putting it together. If anything, all of us will know that much more about the quality of the Rays system.
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We’ll go through this exercise in an odd way, to make things more interesting. The first one to be looked at will be #40, then #30, then #20, and #10. Then we’ll go through 41, 31, 21, and 11. We’ll go through each ranking until we are all done 11-50, all aside from the Top 10. Then we’ll have a regular countdown for the top 10.
The rankings will be based on all aspects of each prospect, but will focus first on how likely the player is to make an impact in MLB, and ceiling next. Mikie Mahtook and Enny Romero have been graduated to the majors and will not be included in these rankings.
Once completed, the Top 50 will be updated mid-season with an explanation to why they’re moving up or down, and the entire process will be repeated each season.
The next player to be examined in detail is …
#27: Andrew Velazquez, 2B, 21 years old
- Bats: Both Ht/Wt: 5’8″ 175 lbs
- Drafted: in 7th rd of the 2012 MLB draft by the DBacks
- Acquired: along with OF Justin Williams in return for Jeremy Hellickson
- 2015 Affiliate: Charlotte, HiA
- Anticipated MLB Arrival: 2018+
Velazquez’ Fielding Stats
Velazquez’ 2015 Splits
- Follow him on Twitter: @squezhao
- Played mostly CF in high school
- Shares a house with team mates Willy Adames and Kean Wong
- “He set the Minor League record by reaching base in 74 consecutive games last season with South Bend of the Midwest League, bettering the 71 games by a couple of future Major Leaguers — Kevin Youkilis and Kevin Millar“
- Suffered a broken hamate in 2015 (wrist) which put him on the DL for a long period
- Stole 50 bases in 2014, but only 5 bases in 2015
- His ISO is very low at .070, and his wOBA was only .336 in 2015, but he still managed an above-average 116 wRC+
- Most worrisome of his 2015 season was that he was caught stealing 8 times while only stealing 5 bases
- Interestingly played some 3B (18 games) in 2015, increasing his versatility
Best quote to describe Velazquez and his skill set:
"“Armed with a better awareness of the strike zone, he has become a more disciplined hitter, though there is still some swing-and-miss in his game. Velazquez generates good bat speed, but his small size limits his power output. His improved on-base skills and his plus speed make him an ideal fit at the top of the order.”"
Best Tools & Abilities
- Hitting and on base ability
- Defensive ability
- Speed: Bat and on the bases
- Grades: Hit 20/50+, Power 20/40, Speed 60/60, Field 50/55, Throws 55/55
On his record breaking achievement,
First, it’s important to note that our ranking of Velazquez is not a reflection of whether we believe he’ll reach the majors. Few would bet against that happening at this point, despite an injury marred 2015. His hitting ability and speed, combined with his defensive skills in the infield – and possibly in CF in the future – combine to ensure he’ll have a decent shot of making it onto an MLB bench at a minimum.
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Instead, what our ranking reflects is his ceiling. While some may believe that he could find a role on an MLB team, it’s harder to find some that would point to him earning a full time 2B or SS role. It’s also likely a good reason the Rays had him increase his versatility in 2015 by having him add 3B to his playable infield positions. While he could play 3B and SS in the majors as a light hitting option, his complete lack of power makes it unlikely that he’d play a prominent role at those positions.
Having said that, there’s still a great chance that Velazquez continues to hit, returns to his base-stealing ways and becomes a similar player to Dee Gordon, someone who can lead off and drive pitchers crazy with a combination of great hitting and speed on the bases. That, to me, is his ceiling and the reason he profiles best as a 2B. Had he shown more speed on the base paths in 2015, his ranking would have reflected our profiling him in that manner and he would have been ranked in the 10 to 14 range. Instead, with the injuries and lack of speed on the bases, we were forced to rank him lower than expected.
Defensively, Velazquez can add 3B to his positions because of a great arm which is rated at 55 on the 20/80 scouting scale.
What was a painful 2015 for Velazquez will surely turn itself around in 2016. As a gritty player, he’s expected to put a rough year behind him and to return to the pest at the top of the order he can be. A switch-hitter with speed and great contact ability, he’s the perfect option there and so long as he returns to a thief on the bases, he’ll shoot up rankings and will likely jump from Charlotte to Montgomery at some point in the season.
From there, the picture is murky mostly because of the options the Rays have alongside him and ahead of him. From Daniel Robertson to Adames, the Rays are filled with talented infielders who Velazquez will have to compete with to earn a spot on the roster. Playing in the A.L. East, can the Rays really afford to have no power from their 2B the same way the Marlins can with Gordon? It’s a tough call, particularly when the team can’t afford to have big knockers fill all other positions, usually depending on breadth of power instead.
There’s a better than 50/50 chance that if he returns to his top form, Velazquez will become a great trade chip for the Rays, and that he could find himself playing for an N.L. team (Mets?) by 2018. The talent is there and he could profile very well at 2B and at the top of the lineup, so it’s also easy to envision the Rays keeping him aboard as a utility infielder type, particularly if he improves his defensive abilities at 3B and can add CF to his repertoire.
Next: Tampa Bay Rays Top 50 Prospects List: 2016 Pre-Season
We hope 2015 was an outlier in what has otherwise been an outstanding minor league career so far for Velazquez and hope to see him in Montgomery before long. He’s a prospect to watch in 2016 and one that could quickly put himself into the top 10 Rays prospects conversation if he returns to his 2014 form. We wish him all of the best in 2016 and will be on the lookout for his lightning quick bat.