FanPost

Farmhands Firsthand: Vincent Velasquez, July 13 2012

I charted pitch and opposition batter plate appearance data of Astros prospect Vincent Velasquez during the July 13 2012 game between Tri-City and Williamsport (Phillies affiliate) of the short-season A-level New York-Penn League (NYPL). A report follows.

Important Considerations

Since being chosen in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft out of high school, Velasquez has pitched in just 13 minor league games, starting 11 (including this one). He did not pitch in a traditional minor league game during 2011 after undergoing ligament reconstruction surgery on his throwing elbow near the end of the 2010 season. The Williamsport game was his fifth start since; per-game pitch count limits are in effect due to some combination of his youth and elbow repair and he pitches on 5 or 6 days of rest as a member of a 6-man starting rotation. Given the above and the absence of television coverage for his clubs to date, few have seen Velasquez pitch professionally and he remains very much a mystery in scouting and prospecting circles. He recently turned 20 and is 1.2 years younger than the typical NYPL pitcher and 1.0 years younger than the league’s typical batter (the 9 Williamsport batters he faced are also young by league standards at 19.9 years, on average). The righthander had never faced a pro lineup comprised of more than 4 left-handed or switch batters until this one in which 7 of the 9 players swung left-handed against him. Though pitch velocities are not posted on the Williamsport scoreboard, starting pitchers from both clubs seated nearby each had a radar gun for their between-starts pitch charting duty day. Pitch recognition can be difficult from the seats; my line of sight from behind home plate was screened on a few inside offerings to lefties who crowd the dish preventing identification of the pitch type (I had no velocity data to infer it from either). This non-scout had never seen Velasquez pitch - how typical this outing was in comparison to the four prior 2012 starts or will be relative to upcoming ones is unclear.

Current Pitch Repertoire

I had a great view of Velasquez’ arsenal during pre-game and pre-inning warm-up tosses and identified 3 pitches: 1. a fastball that had 4-seam action (limited sink) with a late armside tail (in on righties, away from lefties), 2. a sweeping slider that broke at a roughly 45-degree angle to the vertical (10:30 to 4:30 on a clock, from the perspective of the catcher), 3. a changeup that tumbled down and in slightly to lefties (away from righties).

In-game Data Captured

Table 1. Pitch outcome data, sorted by pitch type.

Pitch Type

Total Thrown

Balls

Strikes

Strikes, Whiffed at

Strikes, Taken

Strikes, Fouled

Strikes, Ball in Play

Fastball

48

17

31

6

8

7

10

Slider

24

10

14

6

4

4

0

Changeup

11

4

7

4

2

1

0

Uncertain

6

0

6

0

0

2

4

All

89

31

58

16

14

14

14

The Tri-City team radar gun registered Velasquez’ fastball mostly at 92 to 93 mph with an occasional peak of 95 mph. I had no readings on the secondary offerings, but there seemed to be a good bit of separation between the velocities of the fastball and slider.

Table 2. Event data, sorted by inning and batter handedness.

Event

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

5th

6th

Game

Versus Left

Versus Right

Pitch

11

17

12

23

12

14

89

72

17

Ball

4

8

3

6

4

6

31

26

5

Strike

7

9

9

17

8

8

58

46

12

Strike, Whiffed at

2

0

1

5

4

4

16

14

2

Strike, Called

1

4

2

4

1

2

14

11

3

Strike, Fouled

1

2

4

5

1

1

14

11

3

Strikeout Swinging

0

0

0

1

1

1

3

3

0

Strikeout Looking

0

1

1

2

0

1

5

4

1

Walk

0

1

0

0

0

0

1

1

0

Groundball

1

2

1

1

2

0

7

5

2

Line Drive

1

0

0

2

0

0

3

2

1

Infield Fly

0

0

1

0

0

1

2

1

1

Outfield Fly

1

1

0

0

0

0

2

2

0

Click here for the game log, box score, and other Velasquez 2012 data.

Observations from the Seats

As the game progressed, Velasquez threw his slider (especially) and changeup more and began racking up swings and misses and particularly with those two secondary offerings (Table 1, Table 2). When looking to finish off hitters with two strikes, Velasquez lived on or off the outside corner: he threw fastballs off the corner thigh- to waist-high, backdoor sliders (lefties), and backdoor changeups (lefties). Hitters in the proverbial hole generally laid off the fastball away but lefties often took the backdoor slider and changeup for a strike thinking that it would not get back to the plate or were simply frozen by the pace of the latter offering; 5 of his 8 strikeouts were of the looking variety and 7 of 8 were against lefties (Table 2). Velasquez rarely challenged hitters at or above the top of the strike zone with the fastball and seldom threw the slider in the dirt or at the back foot of lefties. Effectiveness of the fastball-slider combo against righties could not be evaluated; the first righty doesn’t get very deep into counts whereas the other seems overmatched in the NYPL and saw a steady diet of fastballs batting ninth.

Four of the fourteen batted balls put in play against him were hit hard in my judgment. The first and third outs of the first were low flies to line drives laced directly at the rightfielder and centerfielder, respectively. The other two hard-hit balls were surrendered to consecutive batters in the fourth inning in the form of a line drive double off the base of the left-center wall and a line drive single over the shortstop’s head; they were followed by a multi-hop single that snuck through the hole where the firstbaseman would normally be positioned and plated the second and final run. Velasquez allowed no other hits in the game aside from those three consecutive safeties.

His second inning trouble was self-inflicted. After a leadoff 4-pitch walk (his only walk), he jammed the next batter with a fastball inducing a loud but not particularly hard-hit spinning comebacker that he booted several yards away costing him any chance at one if not two outs. Lightning quickly struck Velasquez twice when he mishandled a similar comebacker from the next hitter but this time the ball stayed nearby and his throw easily beat the batter. A medium-depth fly ball caught along the leftfield line plated the walk recipient from third. Velasquez tread cautiously around Williamsport cleanup hitter Larry Greene throwing him 10 of the 31 balls on his night; the only 3-ball counts occurred during those three plate appearances (Greene, the other "likely major leaguer" on the field, collected both the double and the walk).

Overall Impressions

The extreme lefthanded bias of the Williamsport lineup provided a quality test of Velasquez’ pitch repertoire and the secondary offerings in particular. That the 18 lefty batters faced managed only a walk, single, and double while striking out 7 times bodes well for the effectiveness of his current fastball-slider-changeup mix against opposite-handed bats, at least for the near term. The present iteration of the fastball does not seem like one that would generate a remarkable percentage of whiffs as he advances up the professional ladder but its tail seems to make it both difficult to hit solidly and a better pitch than its velocity might suggest. Freshly 20, Velasquez has the look of a confident starter who has a good grasp of the tactical side of pitching and command over his repertoire. The early success of Velasquez in 2012 will probably be underappreciated by most prospect followers, particularly when they fail to recognize that an Astros farmhand of Velasquez’ age, professional experience, and elbow status would ordinarily be pitching in Greeneville (short-season rookie-level Appalachian League) rather than facing what are typically older, more advanced hitters in the NYPL.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join The Crawfish Boxes

You must be a member of The Crawfish Boxes to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Crawfish Boxes. You should read them.

Join The Crawfish Boxes

You must be a member of The Crawfish Boxes to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Crawfish Boxes. You should read them.

Spinner

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker