- Full name Andrew Velazquez
- Born 07/14/1994 in Bronx, NY
- Profile Ht.: 5'9" / Wt.: 170 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Fordham Prep
- Debut 09/02/2018
Drafted in the 7th round (243rd overall) by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2012 (signed for $200,000).
View Draft ReportA small shortstop from New York City, Velazquez is committed to Virginia Tech. He's a singles hitter from both sides of the plate and showed below-average times down the line last summer.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Track Record: Acquired by the Rays in a deal that sent Jeremy Hellickson to the D-backs. Velazquez's prospect status had waned since as scouts didn't believe his bat or glove were strong enough to be an everyday shortstop. But he began playing outfield in 2018, and his versatility got him to the majors.
Scouting Report: Velazquez has gone full circle as a player. He was an outfielder for most of his high school career before moving to shortstop. Now moving to center field has kick-started his career because he quickly established himself as an exceptional defender there. While Velazquez is an average defender at shortstop, he's at least a plus defender in center and there are scouts who say he's plus-plus. He's also a plus runner who uses that speed well on the basepaths. And he's a contact hitter from both sides of the plate. He projects to have below-average power with a contact-oriented approach.
The Future: Velazquez's value is in his versatility. He doesn't hit enough to be a regular at any one spot, but his ability to play an excellent center field, second, shortstop or third base makes him a useful utilityman. He'll compete for a big league spot in spring training.
Velazquez signed for $200,000 after the Diamondbacks selected him in the seventh round of the 2012 draft. In low Class A South Bend in 2014 he made headline news with a 74-game on-base streak, then he and outfielder Justin Williams joined the Rays in a November trade involving Jeremy Hellickson. Velazquez has a good feel for hitting from both sides of the plate and good bat speed because of his strong hands, but he needs to improve his strike-zone discipline and contact rate. He showed surprising power from a small, 5-foot-8 frame. He's a plus runner with good instincts on the bases, and he led the Midwest League with 50 stolen bases after swiping just seven bags the previous year. Velazquez played entirely at shortstop in 2014 after starting his career as a second baseman and showed significant improvement with solid-average range and a strong arm. Scouts believe he best suits a utility-infield profile with his glove, speed and switch-hit bat, but some give him a chance to develop into a starting second baseman. He moves up to high Class A Charlotte in 2015.
The Bronx, N.Y., native turned pro rather than attend Virginia Tech when the Diamondbacks offered him $200,000 as a seventh-round pick in 2012. After a successful debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League, he played so well in 2013 extended spring training that Arizona assigned him to low Class A South Bend in early June. A diminutive switch-hitter, Velazquez had his ups and downs in full-season ball, but he finished strong by batting .303/.404/.360 over the final month after gaining a better understanding of the strike zone. While he doesn't hit for power, he generates above-average bat speed owing to strong hands. He's a plus runner with good instincts on the bases, but he needs to learn better basestealing techniques. Primarily a second baseman in 2012, Velasquez actually spent more time at shortstop with South Bend. He has the arm strength for the position but needs to learn how to go to his backhand and throw from different angles. Velazquez may return to South Bend for more seasoning, and he profiles best as a utility infielder.
Arizona scouted Velazquez in the summer before his senior year of high school and kept tabs on his progress before drafting him last June and signing him quickly for $200,000. After playing shortstop in high school, Velazquez spent most of his first pro season at second base, and that's where he looks best suited. The undersized infielder quickly became a favorite both of the Diamondbacks' Arizona League coaching staff and scouts covering the league for his athleticism, speed and gamer mentality on the field. Velazquez has good hands that help him generate above-average bat speed. His raw speed is above-average, and it plays up because he's a smart baserunner, stealing 22 bases in 25 attempts in his first season. He doesn't yet have much power (his only homer was inside the park), but started to show a little more pop during instructional league and could eventually hit 10-15 homers a year. While he's still relatively new to the infield, having been an outfielder earlier in his high school career, he should be a solid defender. He's capable of playing either middle-infield position, with enough arm for shortstop. Velazquez will need lots of development time, so he'll probably return to a short-season team in 2013.
Minor League Top Prospects
It's a good time to be a short middle infielder. With Jose Altuve's run at a batting title and Dustin Pedroia's full trophy case, evaluators are more willing to consider an undersized shortstop or second baseman as a potential everyday regular. Velazquez made headlines at South Bend with a 74-game on-base streak, the longest such streak anyone has discovered for a player in the minors. (Caveat: Detailed records for such things date back only about a decade.) In an ironic twist, scouts have more doubts about Velazquez's bat than any other tool. They like his plus arm and think he can play both shortstop and second base with average to tick above-average range. He is a difference-maker on the basepaths with double-plus speed and a solid understanding of how to steal bases. But scouts wonder just how much Velazquez will hit long term. He sprays line drives to all fields, and he has better power than one would expect, but he would benefit from a better understanding of the strike zone. Even a worst-case scenario appears to be big league utility infielder.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Defensive SS in the Midwest League in 2014
- Rated Most Exciting Player in the Midwest League in 2014