Chicago Cubs Game 1 Lineup: Nelson Velázquez Gets His First Big League Start

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Chicago Cubs Game 1 Lineup: Nelson Velázquez Gets His First Big League Start

Chicago Cubs

I hope you’re ready for a day filled with baseball! The Cubs have two games on the docket this Memorial Day, and the first one includes a big league debut for a legitimate Cubs prospect!

Chicago Cubs Lineup: 

1. Christopher Morel, 2B
2. Willson Contreras, DH
3. Frank Schwindel, 1B
4. Patrick Wisdom, 3B
5. Nico Hoerner, SS
6. Clint Frazier, LF
7. Nelson Velázquez, RF
8. P.J. Higgins, C
9. Rafael Ortega, CF

SP: Matt Swarmer, RHP

Nelson Velázquez was just called up today, alongside Anderson Espinoza, and he’s already getting the first big league start of his career. Here’s a little taste of what to expect from this prospect promotion:

Velázquez, 23, was my tenth-ranked prospect in the system in my latest rankings earlier this month.

A fifth-round pick in 2017 out of a PJ Education School in Puerto Rico, Velázquez was then a thin-but-strong player with a nice blend of power and speed. Signing scout Edwards Guzman talked about a fantastic batting practice he took as an amateur at Wrigley Field. His stock jumped in 2018 when he showed both skills with the short-season Eugene Emeralds, notching 11 home runs and 12 steals in 72 games with the club.

In 202 games since the start of the 2021 season (High-A, Double-A, AFL, PRWL, Caribbean Series, Triple-A), Velázquez has hit 43 home runs (and 45 doubles-plus-triples). His max exit velocities were the best in the farm system last year.

There are few players I’ve ever tracked in professional baseball that run more hot and cold than Velázquez does; it’s something that many in the organization I’ve spoken with point out. While he’s much more thoughtful about his plate approach in the past (and his rising BB% over the years tells you that), Velázquez is still somebody who sometimes sees beach balls at the plate, and sometimes sees marbles.

The question for Velázquez’s viability in the Major Leagues is pretty much the same calculus as it is for Patrick Wisdom. He’ll walk a little more than Wisdom, probably, and I think you’d have to guess the HR/PA rate is at least a little lower. But, like Wisdom, so much is going to come down to whether the strikeout rate is closer to thirty than forty. That difference just might be the entire key.

Velázquez is joined in the outfield by Rafael Ortega and Clint Frazier (how’s that for a totally different group?). Meanwhile, P.J. Higgins is behind the plate, but the Cubs are keeping Willson Contreras’ bat in the lineup using  the DH. I’m guessing we’ll see him catch the second game, with Alfonso Rivas at first base and Frank Schwindel at DH.

As usual, we’ll have your full Pre-Gamin’ post closer to game time (12:05 CT for Game 1).



Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami