Another day, another huge effort from Cubs outfield prospect Nelson Velazquez. The 22-year-old breakout prospect doubled and homered AGAIN yesterday, bringing his season slash line up to a yes-that’s-his-slugging-not-his-OPS .396/.500/.750.
The homer was not a cheapie:
— jd (@JD_Hamby) October 29, 2021
Velazquez got some love from the MLB Pipeline crew, too:
Nelson Velazquez is having some kind of Fall League.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) October 30, 2021
“If Velazquez wasn’t on the map as a true up-and-comer in the Cubs’ organization after a solid regular season, he certainly is now. With a homer and a double, the 22-year-old bumped his batting line to .396/.500/.750 in AFL action. Velazquez has gone deep four times among his nine extra-base hits and has driven in 11 runs, tallying at least one RBI in eight of his 12 games. Chicago’s fifth-round pick in 2017 has hit safely in all but three contests this fall.”
Velazquez’s 1.250 OPS is first in the league among hitters with at least 50 plate appearances. The Cubs’ 2017 5th rounder is now firmly on the radar for the Iowa Cubs outfield next year (if not Chicago at some point).
Almost as incredibly, given how little you’ve heard about it: Velazquez’s teammate, Andy Weber, is just shy of 50 PAs, but his 1.047 OPS would otherwise be top ten in the league, too. Like Velazquez, he’s just been stacking huge game on huge game:
This guy is now hitting the quietest .324/.479/.568 you’ll ever see after a big game Friday (incl his first home run since 9/14/19).
Take his last 11 reg season games and add the 10 AFL games: 19.8 BB% in 86 PA. Most walks he’s had over a stretch that long – that says something. https://t.co/RwkeJQM6l1
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) October 30, 2021
Like Velazquez, Weber is a Rule 5 eligible guy getting some more looks in advance of a big rostering decision next month. Unlike Velazquez, who is a no-doubt 40-man add at this point, there are still some questions about whether Weber’s bat will offer enough at the highest level to make him a capable utility man (and he definitely doesn’t have the same huge power upside that Velazquez does, which is what you really don’t want to risk losing).
A 2018 5th rounder (another thing they have in common!), Weber’s 2021 season was shortened by injury and he wasn’t all that productive at Double-A when he was healthy enough to play (.214/.302/.321, 75 wRC+, 34.9% K rate, 8.7% BB rate, .107 ISO). As Bryan noted, Weber finished out the year on a nice ten-game run, but it’s tough to know how much to take away from that. A huge AFL season would certainly help the calculus.