The Rundown: Velazquez Looks Like Baby Boomstick, Braves Take Game 1, Manfred Drops Ball on Chop, Both Sides Confident in CBA Negotiations
The nickname is already taken by one of my favorite ballplayers of all time, the Cubs may have their own “Boomstick” in outfielder and potential designated hitter Nelson Velazquez. With apologies to Nelson Cruz, Chicago’s diamond-in-the-rough minor league sensation is really making waves in the Arizona Fall League.
Nelson Velazquez (@Cubs ) continues his incredible start at the Arizona Fall League. With one hit already on the night, Velazquez drives this RBI single to left to pad the Solar Sox lead. He’s is now hitting north of .350. 🏜🌵☀️@NBCSChicago pic.twitter.com/RomDcEEc5J
— MLB's Arizona Fall League (@MLBazFallLeague) October 24, 2021
The team’s No. 29 prospect still needs more polish, but he has simply dominated AFL pitching for two weeks and is making a name for himself. Selected in the fifth round of the 2017 draft, Veleaseuz is Rule 5-eligible this year and playing like he wants that roster spot. The 22-year-old had a four-hit game yesterday, his fourth multi-hit game for the Mesa Solar Sox, and belted his second home run of the season.
Velazquez currently ranks first in the AFL with 15 hits and bumped his slash line to .395/.489/1.147 with yesterday’s head-turning performance. While this fall performance is putting him on the map for more national folks, he posted a .820 OPS with 20 home runs in 103 games for South Bend and Tennessee during the regular season.
The outfielder’s biggest strength is his raw power, which Prospects Live grades as 55 and says he is just beginning to display in game action. In his evaluation, Jake Kearns said the 6-foot, 190 lb. hitting machine “utilizes his lower half well and possesses the pure strength to simply muscle the ball out. Can hit the ball out of all parts of the park. Needs to cut down on the aggressiveness at the plate and wait for his pitch to help him consistently get to his natural power.”
Our own Todd Johnson profiled the team’s baby boomstick back in June, noting that he “still needs to work on [his] tendency to chase pitches with two strikes” and that his 33% strikeout rate is unlikely to improve as he progresses toward the bigs. Johnson added Velazquez “could be deadly” if he can figure out how to better manage his at-bats in those two-strike situations.
A spot on the team’s 40-man roster is likely but it’s certainly not guaranteed as Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins decide to do with their big-league roster, including Ian Happ. Velazquez is also competing with Nick Martini, Trayce Thompson, Michael Hermosillo, and Greg Deichmann.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs formally announced Ehsan Bokhari as the organization’s new assistant general manager.
- If the NL decides to implement the DH in its next collective bargaining agreement, it will likely boost the value of starting catcher Willson Contreras.
- Trent Giambrone passed on a potential career as a drag racer and has found motivation in the recent death of his father, Tony.
- Jordan Bastian of MLB.com provides a breakdown of players currently on Chicago’s 40-man roster and makes a case for keeping or cutting some of the players on the proverbial bubble.
- In case you are wondering about compensation for signing free agents attached to a qualifying offer, the Cubs would forfeit their second-highest pick and have their international signing bonus pool reduced by $500K.
- In a powerful letter penned to Braves fans, outfielder Joc Pederson admitted he initially expressed remorse after Hoyer traded him in July.
From Baseball’s Home Office
“Have you ever heard me say that I’m anything but optimistic about getting an agreement? “I am a believer in the process. We’re meeting on a regular basis, and I’m hopeful we find a way to get an agreement [in place] by December 1.” – Rob Manfred
The league could be looking at a work stoppage in about six weeks if the two sides fail to reach an agreement.
The players are also hopeful to avoid a strike or lockout.
Odds & Sods
Old-timers would call Charlie Morton a “gamer.” The Braves’ Game 1 starter is obviously out for the rest of the series.
Jeff Passan: Charlie Morton threw 16 pitches on a broken leg — and then apologized it wasn't more https://t.co/USGSL1drge
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) October 27, 2021
World Series News & Notes
Manfred had a chance to make a strong statement regarding “the Chop,” an insidious war cry used by Braves fans in big games, and he kind of dropped the ball. Though he said the Native American community is supportive, there are plenty of groups who have reached out to ask the team’s fans to stop.
Despite losing Game 1 and surrendering home-field advantage, the Astros remain optimistic after last night’s 6-2 loss to the Braves.
Astros shortstop Carlos Correa is apparently made for October. Can’t you say that about a handful of stars playing in the World Series?
Pederson said his former Dodgers teammates are rooting for the Braves to beat the Astros. Can I say “no shit” here?
Braves reliever Tyler Matzek overcame severe anxiety issues to become one of the high-leverage leaders of Atlanta’s bullpen this year.
Supply chain issues have prevented the Astros and Braves from wearing World Series patches on their uniforms.
This World Seris matchup is genuinely a product of disgraced GMs Jeffrey Luhnow and John Copolella.
- Morton – Gutsy or crazy, nobody can ever say he didn’t give it everything he had while pitching yesterday.
- Jorge Soler – Hit a home run to lead off the game on the third pitch he’s ever seen in World Series action. That’s kind of cool. Soler’s blast was the first-ever home run to start a World Series.
When the answer to “Who’s pitching?” is “Everybody,” baseball is missing out on something special.
The Mets are now considering internal candidates to become the team’s president of baseball operations.
Brewers GM Matt Arnold seemed to be the frontrunner for the position, but he has reportedly withdrawn his name from the search.
The Padres reportedly interviewed Ozzie Guillén for their managerial opening.
Free-agent shortstops Marcus Semien or Corey Seager may make more sense for the Yankees than Correa.
Bleacher Report lists some highly speculative trade ideas to satisfy your hot stove cravings.
The Cleveland Guardians professional roller derby team is suing the Guardians professional baseball team to block their name change.
ESPN is going to air a documentary about Barry Bonds that examines his Hall of Fame bid. The program is scheduled to debut on November 7.
Baseball rivalries have been popular with television viewers this postseason.
Apropos of Nothing
“Stick to the roads, steer clear of the moors, and beware the full moon.” When did Halloween become a weeklong celebration? Asking for a friend.
This is kind of cool.
If you liked the video of Ichiro doing trick shots you’ll love this one from the 1930s. Trust me. This is a must watch for baseball fans. This is unreal. #MLB pic.twitter.com/t02fdywunm
— BaseballHistoryNut (@nut_history) January 29, 2021
They Said It
- “I think it’s important to understand that we have 30 markets in the country. Not all are the same. The Braves have done a phenomenal job with the Native American community. The Native American community in that region is fully supportive of the Braves’ program, including the chop. To me, that’s kind of the end of the story.” – Manfred
Wednesday Walk-Up Song
Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon. That full moon, though.