Vincent Velasquez attended Astros spring camp in 2015 but didn’t get to participate in any game action due to an injury. The 22-year-old Velasquez missed all of spring training while recovering from a lat injury that he suffered during Arizona Fall League in fall of last year. During spring training, Velasquez said he was not worried about the injury, but it kept him out of action longer than the initial two to three weeks he had initially expected. After an extended spring training, he made his first appearance of the season with the star-studded Hooks on Friday night.
5-8-2015 Vincent Velasquez stat line: 5 IP/ 3 Hits/ 1 ER/ 1 BB/ 10 K
Velasquez pitched five innings while throwing 74 pitches with 56 strikes. He started the game with two strikeouts, followed by a walk and fly out. Not sure what the count was, but maybe with the walk, Velasquez was trying to strike the hitter out but missed.
The only real trouble he had was in the third inning, where he gave up his lone run. Velasquez struck out the first hitter in the inning and then allowed a single to Carson Blair. The following hitter struck out, so the Hooks thought that maybe they would get out of the inning unscathed. With two outs in the inning, Colin Walsh hit a double which Blair was able to score on.
It was nice to see Velasquez get back out there on the mound because he is still an important piece of the Astros future. MLB Pipeline has him ranked as the 4th best Astros prospect, which he displayed on Friday night. He also ranks as the 84th best prospect in MLB. How did he feel about the way he pitched, let’s get it straight from the horse’s mouth.
Feb 26, 2015; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Houston Astros pitcher Vince Velasquez poses for a picture during photo day at Osceola County Stadium Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
CTH: How did you feel after you first game of the season?
Velasquez: That first one is always a big adrenaline rush. My whole career, the first outing is always full of nervous and excited emotions. But got the first one out the way, I’m settled in, and ready to go out and get after the next outing. I feel great all around. Body feels strong and healthy. Mentally I’m just ready for anything that comes my way.
CTH: What led to all the strikeouts?
Velasquez: The strikeouts were never a thought until I was ahead in the count. You got two strikes on the hitter, why not get that strikeout. I fell behind a few, and that led to that double, and that’s what happens. But other than that, things go your way when you’re ahead. Like the old saying goes, the ball is in your court, so you take charge and control the outcome of the at-bat.
These words show the maturity of the 22-year-old pitcher. He is aware of the hitter’s count and can adjust to the situation. Velasquez will be a great pitcher for the Astros within the next couple years. If he can stay healthy and continue pitching like he did Friday night, he will be pitching for the Astros sooner than expected. A pitching rotation of Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Mark Appel, Josh Hader, Lance McCullers, or Vincent Velasquez could be a strength for the Astros for many years. The Astros will keep Keuchel but would they do what it takes to sign McHugh as well?
Vincent, let your pitching do the talking, and you will work your way up sooner than you think. Believe it or not Astros fans, Velasquez was drafted in 2010, so he has had plenty of minor league experience, despite the injury setbacks.
Thanks for the mini interview Vincent, you can follow him at @vjvelasquezrhp.
Previous Keeping Up with the Astros Prospects
Here are links to my prior interviews:
Astros Prospect: Tony Kemp
Astros Prospects: Joe Sclafani
More from Climbing Tal's Hill
- Just how much better is the Houston Astros playoff rotation than the rest?
- Houston Astros: A Lineup Change to Spark Offense
- Astros prospect Hunter Brown throws 6 shutout innings in debut
- Always faithful Astros World Series champion Josh Reddick defends the title
- Michael Conforto declines Astros’ 2-year, $30 million offer