If you are looking to rebuild a team that once sat on the throne of Major League Baseball, selecting the right prospects would be a great place to start. It would also be helpful if those prospects start to develop within your farm system. Oh, and it probably would not hurt if those prospects became the Arizona Fall League MVP and really announced his presence in the organization. Who might this guy be? Well since you asked, his name is Nelson Velazquez. Velazquez is a unique player so let’s take a look at who he is:
Nelson Velazquez is a 6-foot tall outfielder in the Chicago Cubs organization. He hits and throws right-handed and he was drafted in the 5th round of the 2017 Major League Baseball draft. MLB.com currently has Velazquez ranked as the Cubs" 29th ranked prospect in the organization but that could change given the promotion of some prospects. Now Velazquez only has a hand full of games above Low-A ball, 18 to be exact so he will most likely get some more plate appearances down on the farm before making his big league debut.
Velazquez has some work to do. He has an alarming 65% contact rate which will not work at the big league level unless your name is Javier Baez. However, being only 22 years old and Cubs outfield full of veterans, Velazquez has time to improve that contact rate and figure out his swing before he makes it to the big leagues. He has shown a lot of improvement especially in the Arizona Fall League where he lead the league in home runs with nine, second in the league in batting average at .385, and 4th in the league with 24 runs batted in. Velazquez has improved his batting average year after year where in his first full professional season he hit .239 and his swing was all out of sync. In 2019 Velazquez hit .288 over 78 games but there was concern over his swing and misses were a cause for concern. However, in 2021 Velazquez played a career-high 103 games between High-A and Double-A where he only hit .270 but set career highs in home runs with 20 and runs batted in with 73.
Velazquez is still young and still raw in terms of his swing and his defense. There are some baseball minds who think he can hit 25 home runs a year at a corner outfield spot. There are other baseball minds that are concerned about his strike zone awareness and would need to see Velazquez improve that awareness before they crown him an MLB starter. The Cubs added him to the 40-man roster after his stellar Fall League but Cubs fans should probably wait a year and expect Velazquez in 2023. For now, Cubs fans can watch this video of Velazquez"s swing and dream of what he could be capable of at the big league level:
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