VINCE VELASQUEZ, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: June 7, 1992
Drafted: 2nd Round, 58th Overall, 2010 (Astros)
How Acquired: Free Agent
High School: Garey HS (Pomona, CA)
Agent: Boras Corporation
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|Since coming up through the Astros’ system as a highly rated prospect, Velasquez has managed an eight-year career despite being consistently below average. In those eight years, he’s never had an ERA below 4.12 (in 2016) and has had an ERA+ above 91 just once, and then only 101 (also in 2016). His career mark is 85. Throughout his career he’s had high K rates, but he’s still consistently been one of the hardest-hit pitchers in baseball. In 2022, he ranked in the first (i.e., worst) percentile in average exit velocity and barrel percentage, eighth in xSLG and tenth in hard-hit percentage. As a result, gopher balls have been a significant problem for him in many years and opponents have slugged a healthy .458 for his career. Velasquez has started 136 of his 183 career games, averaging just 4.8 innings per start. He throws four pitches: a fastball that averages 93 mph, along with a slider, curve and change. All four pitches produce swings and misses, but all four also get hit hard. According to FanGraph’s pitch values, Velasquez’ fastball has been a good pitch, but his secondary offerings have all been ineffective. The fastball also appears to have been less effective over the last couple years. He’s had a reverse platoon split during his career.
In advanced rookie ball, Velasquez had a strong debut over six starts, leading Baseball America to rate him 12th in the Astros’ system. He had Tommy John surgery, though, after the season.
Velasquez missed the season following the surgery.
In short season ball, Velasquez made nine starts and recovered well. He was shut down for the last month of the season. BA ranked him 13th in the system.
Velasquez had another strong season, this time in Low A, and BA ranked him sixth in the system. He finished the season with a brief appearance in High A.
The Astros sent Velasquez back to High A and he pitched well, but missed two months with a groin injury. BA ranked him fourth in the system and the Astros added him to the 40-man roster after the season.
After missing the first month of the season, Velasquez went to AA and had a 1.37 ERA through his first five starts. Houston called him up in June and he stayed with them except for a stretch in August. The Astros employed him as a starter in his first seven games, and as a reliever after that. After the season, the Astros sent him to Philadelphia as part of a seven-player trade.
Velasquez spent the season with the Phillies except for one game in June. He had his best major league season, although gopher balls started to be a problem, as he allowed 21.
Velasquez was hampered by injuries that limited him to 15 starts. He missed a month and a half with a flexor strain, then missed the last seven weeks with a finger injury. Gopher balls hampered when he did pitch, as he allowed 15.
Velasquez set career highs for starts, with 30, and innings, although he averaged fewer than five innings per start. He got the home runs down to one every nine innings.
Velasquez made 23 starts and ten relief appearances. The gopher ball was a big problem, as he allowed one every four and a half innings.
The Phillies used Velasquez sparingly during the pandemic season, sending him out once every six to ten days. Control started becoming a problem.
Both injury and gopher balls led to a rough season for Velasquez. He missed over a month late in the season with a blister and he gave up a home run every four innings. He also had control problems. The Phillies finally designated him for assignment in September. The Padres signed him to a minor league deal and then called him up for the last two weeks, which went badly.
Velasquez signed with the White Sox during spring training. He again had injury issues, ultimately missing close to two months with a groin strain and a blister. The Sox initially used him as a starter, but he struggled to a 5.79 ERA through seven starts, so they moved him to the bullpen. He was only a little more effective there. He became a free agent after the season and the Pirates signed him.
Velasquez marked a return to Ben Cherington’s habit of acquiring below-average veterans who don’t meet any identifiable need for the Pirates, but who are cheap. The team has numerous better options for both the rotation and bullpen. The fact that he has only one useful pitch strongly suggests that he should be in the bullpen, if anywhere, so naturally the Pirates have said they see him as a starter. His ERA as a starter over the past three years has been 5.87.
|Signing Bonus: $655,830
MiLB Debut: 2010
MLB Debut: 6/10/2015
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2023
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 11/20/2014
Options Remaining: N/A
MLB Service Time: 7.086
|June 8, 2010: Drafted by the Houston Astros in the 2nd round, 58th overall pick; signed on June 25.
November 20, 2014: Contract purchased by the Houston Astros.
December 12, 2015: Traded by the Houston Astros with Brett Oberholtzer, Mark Appel, Thomas Eshelman and Harold Arauz to the Philadelphia Phillies for Ken Giles and Jonathan Arauz.
September 11, 2021: Designated for assignment by the Philadelphia Phillies; released on September 12.
September 15, 2021: Signed as a minor league free agent by the San Diego Padres.
September 17, 2021: Called up by the San Diego Padres.
November 3, 2021: Became a free agent.
March 14, 2022: Signed as a free agent by the Chicago White Sox.
November 6, 2022: Became a free agent.
December 13, 2022: Signed as a free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates.