Chicago Cubs: Nelson Velazquez is tearing it up in the AFL
The 2021 MLB season and this year’s World Series are in the rearview mirror now, but many prospects – including young talent from the Chicago Cubs organization – are still playing meaningful games.
The 2021 Arizona Fall League season, which began on October 13, will run through November 19 with the championship the following day. This is a time we see many prospects shine. Cubs fans paying closer attention to prospects during this transition phase have to be happy with what they are seeing from 22-year-old standout Nelson Velazquez.
Chicago Cubs: One of the AFL’s top hitters is continuing to crush the ball
A native of Peurto Rico, Velazquez was a fifth-round pick in the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft out of PJ Education School. His bat speed and raw power is likely what drew the Cubs to him. The 6-0, 190-pound outfielder put up a very solid regular minor league season with the South Bend Cubs (A+) and Tennessee Smokies (Double-A), hitting .270/.333/.496 with 20 home runs, 73 RBI, 23 doubles and 17 stolen bases. Velazquez has made some adjustments to his game and it appears to be paying off.
As of now, he is ranked the Cubs’ 29th best prospect by MLB.com and 49th by FanGraphs.
He is finally getting some baseball-wide recognition with his performance in the Arizona Fall League so far. Through Monday, Velazquez is slashing .392/.494/.743 with seven home runs, five doubles, an OPS of 1.238 and 13 walks in 18 AFL games. His efforts have already helped win him the AFL Player of the Week honors. The swing has been so smooth and so quick that the ball has absolutely exploded off his bat. One could dare say he has one of the prettiest swings among the Cubs top prospects.
Right now the hope is that he can continue to work his way up and see the Majors sometime in 2023. One of the biggest obstacles he has battled is the strikeouts, which is not totally surprising for a young power hitter, but the tools are there. Seeing as he hit .290/.358/.581 with eight home runs in 34 games in Double-A this year, that is a good sign to see that he has adjusted to different levels accordingly.
It is also worth noting that Velazquez has a solid arm in right field. His arm strength is ranked 60/80 per his MLB.com scouting report.
2022 will be a year to follow many of the Cubs prospects. Velazquez will be among the group to follow very closely. Do not be surprised to see him rise in the team’s prospect rankings as time moves along. Especially if he continues to tear it up when 2022 begins.