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Astros Minor League Review: ValleyCats RHP Vincent Velasquez

After undergoing Tommy John surgery towards the end of 2010, and missing all of the 2011 season, Vincent Velasquez made his return to the mound for the Tri-City ValleyCats this season.

Vincent Velasquez was the Astros second-round pick in the 2010 draft. He was a high upside high school righty who got off to a good start in rookie ball that year before having to undergo Tommy John surgery. This season he made a successful return from the injury and started for the Tri-City ValleyCats. Here's a look at how Velasquez performed this season.

Velasquez made nine starts this season for the ValleyCats going 4-1 with a 3.35 ERA. He struck out 51 batters (10.05 K/9) in 45.2 innings pitched and walked 17 (3.35 BB/9). Velasquez was particularly effective against left-handed batters this season and posted a 1.42 FIP against lefties. He averaged 12.12 K/9 and only 2.76 BB/9 against lefties. He was still solid against right-handed batters and posted a 3.64 FIP with an 8.9 K/9 rate and 3.68 BB/9 rate. Velasquez's ERA increased each month of the season as he posted a 1.80 ERA in June, 3.40 ERA in July, and an 4.80 ERA in August though he only pitched 9.1 innings in the month of August.

June Starts

Velasquez made his first start of the season on 06/18 against the Vermont Lake Monsters (Athletics affiliate, 32-43). This start ended up being his second best start of the season. He went five innings, and only allowed two hits and no walks to go along with six strikeouts. Both of his hits allowed were singles. He posted a game score of 69 in this start. His next two starts came against the Connecticut Tigers (Detroit affiliate, 34-38). In the first of the two he went 4.1 innings and allowed six hits and two earned runs while walking one and striking out three. Those three strikeouts recorded was his lowest total all year. Only one of those six hits were for extra bases (double). His next start against Connecticut was much stronger as he went six innings and allowed six hits, one earned run, two walks, and seven strikeouts. Two of those hits were for extra bases, both doubles.

July Starts

His next start came against the State College Spikes (Pittsburgh affiliate, 34-40). He lasted five innings and allowed five hits, two earned runs, three walks, and four strikeouts. The three walks tied his season high, and he reached that mark in two other starts. His next start came against the Williamsprt Crosscutters (Philadelphia affiliate, 30-45). This was another one of his better starts. He went six innings and only allowed three hits and one earned run. He tied his season high in strikeouts with eight and he only allowed one walk. He followed that performance up with a mediocre outing against Vermont. He went five innings, and only gave up three hits, but also allowed three walks as well. He struck out four and allowed two earned runs. His last start of July came against the very good Hudson Valley Renegades (Tampa Bay affiliate, 51-24). He allowed five hits and three earned runs in five innings pitched with two walks and four strikeouts.

August Starts

Velasquez only made two starts in August as he was nursing a minor injury. The first start came against the Batavia Muckdogs (St. Louis affiliate, 43-31), and this was his best start of the season. Velasquez only allowed two singles in six shutout innings while striking out eight and walking three. He recorded a game score of 73. His last start of the season came against the Aberdeen IronBirds (Baltimore affiliate, 28-47), and this one was his worst start of the year. He only lasted 3.1 innings, allowed five hits, five earned runs, one homerun, and two walks. He still was able to miss some bats though as he sruck out seven in his 3.1 innings.

Overall it was a nice season for Velasquez, and good to see him back on the mound after having to undergo the infamous Tommy John surgery. Reports on his velocity were favorable, and though he did miss some time due to injury in August, it was just a minor injury and unrelated to the surgery. He did pitch again after the injury in the playoffs which was good to see. Velasquez will likely start the season in the Astros Low-A Quad Cities affiliate next season.