Nelson Velazquez has a long-term role to play for the Cubs

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Cubs are coming off an unforgettable experience in the Field of Dreams Game last week and find themselves in a nice little stretch. Sure, the schedule has been favorable, but stringing together some wins is always good for morale as the season heads into its final stretch.

With another offseason on the horizon, we wonder what this organization is headed for in terms of contention. One name that has come to be fairly interesting is Nelson Velazquez, so let’s take a look to see how he fits into the team’s long-term picture.

Velazquez was drafted in the fifth round in 2017 from Puerto Rico, won MVP in the 2021 Arizona Fall League and was shortly thereafter ranked as the Cubs’ #16 prospect. He spent five seasons in the minors before being called up for the first time on May 30 of this season. He had a short stint before heading back to Triple-A  but he returned on June 20 and has been with the team since.

The outfielder has shown glimpses of his potential so far. One stat that sticks out so far is his OPS. While his .240 average isn’t eye popping, through 42 games in the big leagues, he’s posted an OPS of .779. The best part is that it’s been on par with what he’s done before he was called up. Through his five seasons in the minors, his OPS was .785 and his career OPS sits at .800. His bat has the potential to be a key piece for this Cubs roster moving forward.

The other intriguing part is his age. Velazquez is only 23 years old. He’s demonstrated extreme talent and potential at such a young age. His max exit velocity ranks in the 76th percentile and sprint speed in the 66th. With the reps and time he’s been rewarded with, he has the opportunity to develop and become a key piece to the future.

A bigger question mark, though, centers around his fielding. Through 42 games, he has -1 outs above average, which certainly isn’t ideal. If the Cubs want to build the next championship team, finding a mainstay that can supplement the bat potential with a glove is crucial.

So how does Nelson Velazquez fit into the big picture for the Cubs?

With all that Velazquez has to offer, he has a great opportunity to be part of future plans. The Cubs will hopefully have a crowded outfield next season, with rumors they are actually ready to spend money this offseason. We know Jason Heyward’s time with the team is over but Ian Happ and Seiya Suzuki will have two of the three outfield spots on lock. Velazquez would be a good fit in a DH role or as a number four/five option in the outfield.

Next. Frank Schwindel's future with the team is murky. dark

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The Cubs’ commitment to building young talent is showcased in a prospect like Velazquez. With another month and a half left in the season, getting him reps and experience to show what he’s capable of is huge and is one of the reasons the rest of this season will be entertaining, even with contention out of play.