More prospect fun for the big league Chicago Cubs! At least temporarily!
Outfield prospect Nelson Velazquez went from “kinda still a prospect” to “yo, pay attention to this guy!” with a significant breakout last year, from High-A to Double-A, exploding by the end of the minor league season, and then crushing the Arizona Fall League. There were and are questions about his ability to hit good pitching, rather than merely feasting on mistakes, but that’s been the focus of improvement this year from Double-A to Triple-A. He was added to the 40-man last fall for a reason, and it was the belief that eventually he could contribute in the big leagues (or perhaps keep improving to the point where he was a regular).
And tomorrow, we’ll get a taste of it:
From Cubs prospect Nelson Velazquez’ Instagram story: pic.twitter.com/YZNnjvoUDu
— Tim Stebbins (@tim_stebbins) May 29, 2022
I can confirm that Nelson Velazquez is indeed headed up to Chicago.
— Tommy Birch (@TommyBirch) May 29, 2022
With a double-header tomorrow and outfield uncertainty today, the Cubs know they’ll have room – one way or another – for Velazquez by tomorrow. It’s not entirely clear whether he’ll take the place of Seiya Suzuki (finger, but not yet on IL), Chris Martin (who just went on the bereavement list without a corresponding move), or simply be the 27th man for the day. But with Velazquez already on the 40-man roster, he was one of the few remaining logical choices for “we just need a guy who can come up and not have to ditch someone else.”
Which, again, is not to say that there isn’t hope for a meaningful big league future for Velazquez. The 23-year-old slugger will probably strike out a lot – and that might always be part of his game – but his contact quality is incredible. He is a lot like Patrick Wisdom in that regard, though possibly with a little more contact in the zone, a little more swing and miss out of the zone, and maybe not QUITE as much power (yet).
This is probably going to be a short stint for Velazquez, who has more work to do at Iowa. But I think this can only help his development to get a little taste of the big leagues, see some big league pitching, and then get back to work at Triple-A with a little more information and experience.
I cannot wait to see him in big league action with fellow former Tennessee Smokie:
This photo was taken on April 6th in Kodak.
📸: @MicahHManuel1 #Cubs #SmokiesBaseball #FlyTheW #NelsonVelazquez #ItsDifferentHere #CubTogether @The_Goat1222 @Christo66021711 pic.twitter.com/Rmo9hodmmF
— Tennessee Smokies (@smokiesbaseball) May 29, 2022
Those two started the year at Double-A Tennessee despite a widely-held belief that they should probably be at Triple-A, and all they did was RAKE. That’s how you respond in that situation, and now both of them will be in the big leagues before the end of May. It may not yet signal a changing of the guard or turning of the page or end of the rebuild or whatever phrase you want to use, but it’s fun as heck to finally see some prospects breaking through into the big leagues again.