AFL Scout's View: Eugenio Velez
Clubs rarely hit on players in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft each December, but it seems like the Giants found a keeper in Eugenio Velez.
Left unprotected by the Blue Jays after the 2005 season, Velez came over to the Giants and flourished under manager Roberto Kelly at low Class A Augusta.
Velez hit .315/.369/.557 for the Greenjackets that season and won the South Atlantic League MVP award. But as a 24-year-old, he wasn't exactly age appropriate for low Class A.
Still, a lot of Latin players are late-bloomers, and Velez followed up his success this past season at Double-A Connecticut and eventually found himself in the big leagues in September.
Before the Futures Game in San Francisco, Giants owner Peter Magowan even dropped Velez's name—pointing out that the switch-hitting second baseman was experimenting in center field.
One of the most exciting players in the Arizona Fall League this season, Velez's stock is certainly on the rise. Even if, as a 25-year-old, he's one of the circuit's elder statesmen.
"That doesn't matter at all to me," said one scout from a National League club. "This is a high-energy guy. It's not the same skill-set as Jose Reyes, but that's who he reminds you of. He's got that same type of energy.
"He's better at second base, where he shows outstanding range and soft hands, than he is in the outfield. But he hasn't played a lot out there either. With that kind of foot speed, he could play center. At second, he can range to either side and shown above-average arm strength and body control, being able to make throws across his body on the run to his right side.
"As a switch-hitter, I like him a little better from the left side, but it's pretty even. As a lefthanded hitter, he'll show you sub-4.0 times to first base.
"But he's not a little slap-and-dash guy—he can be that when he wants to be—this is a guy that has good gap power. He's not going to get you a lot of home runs, but he'll wear out the gaps and has shown he can go the other way. He's got a great approach at the plate.
"I really think he's going to be in San Francisco all next year. Ray Durham is a very fragile player, and this is a guy that brings you a totally different type of energy—the type of energy a team like the Giants needs."