The Crawfish Boil: Velasquez is the Hidden Gem

Tim De Block

Many prospects have lost their hype as the depth of the farm has grown recently, but one pitcher who lacks the hype really should be talked about as one of the top arms in the system.

It's been a while, but it's time for another Crawfish Boil! Being that it's been awhile, I should probably re-introduce what the Crawfish Boil is. Sean and I take about six weeks to exchange about six emails discussing something that is currently going on in the system or a prospect or whatever we feel like. You end up getting what is hopefully two points of view. At least we haven't really hit that point yet however as Sean and I agreed for the most part in our first installment and definitely agree in this one.

But...then again...who doesn't think Vincy is a baller?

Brooks

For all the flack the Astros got with the Mike Kvasnicka pick back in 2010, that draft may end up being a one to look back and see a lot of high end talent. You have Delino DeShields and Mike Foltynewicz at the top of the draft and the headliners from it. But you also have Bobby Doran and Jake Buchanan who are having good seasons and could contribute in the back of the rotation or in the pen. There's also Austin Wates who just goes out there and hits all the time.

But, lost in that draft class as well as this vastly improved system, is Vincent Velasquez. I like to just refer to him as VV.

Most know about him. Most Astros fans who keep up with the minors are aware of what he has been doing this season, which is pretty much impress almost everyone that has seen him. But, he doesn't get a lot of hype and definitely doesn't get much attention on the national stage.

Sean

Vincent Velasquez is kind if that hidden arm in the Astros system that people tend to forget in a very deep system. Missing the entire 2011 season due to Tommy John surgery has slowed his development a little, but he has definitely hit the ground running since his return. Velasquez has legitimate upside and plus stuff in which he throws a fastball, curve, and change that he is able to command very well. He's off to a good start this year at Tri-City with an ERA of 3.19 with 123 SO and a 1.12 WHIP in 86 innings pitched.

The thing that I've always liked about Velasquez is that his FB has nice movement which he should grow into nicely as he his arm gets stronger.

Brooks

The amazing part about it is that he's not just a FB guy either. It all starts with the FB as it does with almost every pitcher, but it's a plus pitch. That movement you talk about has been lethal this year has he's posting a GB% that is usually north of the 50% mark. But you factor in that he has a slider thats easily above average if not a potential plus pitch.

There's just no denying his performance this year. He has an almost identical strikeout rate and dropped his BB% from 9% to 7.3%. Sure, the jump from the NYPL to the MWL isn't a huge jump, but he's having to do this over a much longer period and he's done it consistently.

Where would you say his stock is now and how does he compare against the other pitching talent in the system?

Sean

Vincent Velasquez stock is definitely on the rise this year and I would probably rank him as the 10th best Astros prospect. For me he's behind guys like Appel, Folty, Peacock, and LMJ but I would rank him ahead of Tropeano, Brady Rodgers, Aaron West, etc.

The big thing for me is will he be able to stay healthy and not have any setbacks. I think what Velasquez has in his favor is his delivery. I'm a fan of guys that can easily repeat their delivery and throw in a nice easy repeatable delivery. For me, Velasquez does just that and this should help limit the stress put on his throwing motion, shoulder,etc.

I think that Vincent Velasquez came into this year as the forgotten hidden gem in our system, but soon everyone is going to take notice and get excited about his future.

Brooks

I might agree on putting him ahead of Tropeano and at first that's kind of shocking to think about at first. But, it's probably a good choice. Tropeano has had some ups and downs this season while Velasquez has just been consistently dominant. There's obviously high upside type potential there and has had to work through his fair share of adversity already in his short minor league career. Yet, he has come back very strong. So, despite the distance from the majors being a bit of a gap between the two, I am pretty comfortable with seeing him rated higher than Trope.

Sean

Regardless of where Velasquez is ranked among the Astros pitching prospects, it's clear that he's definitely in the discussion among the top pitching prospects in the Astros system and for good reason. Velasquez entered the year as that hidden gem in a very deep system, but I don't think that we can say that anymore. 2014 will be a big year for Velasquez and hopefully he will continue to grow and develop in the system.

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