Andrew Velazquez began the season with the Los Angeles Angels, where he saw action in 54 games at the major league level. But, when the Angels moved on, he ended up finishing the season at Gwinnett, where he provided some infield depth for the Atlanta Braves.
Atlanta claimed Velazquez off waivers on September 5, and optioned him to Gwinnett, where he would remain for the rest of the season.
What were the expectations?
This was another instance where the Braves added an infielder with some major league experience to Gwinnett’s roster. There weren’t a lot of expectations as it would have probably taken multiple injuries to the middle infield for Velazquez to get an opportunity. He gave the Braves another option, but in reality, Velazquez has neither been a capable hitter (52 career wRC+) nor a particularly adept defender at shortstop (career -3 OAA at shortstop), so he was simply another emergency-only option for the team to have on hand.
Velazquez appeared in 54 games for the Angels where he hit .173/.264/.284 with two homers and a 52 wRC+ in 94 plate appearances. He hit .217/.266/.250 with a 29 wRC+ in 64 plate appearances with the Stripers. He “earned” -0.1 fWAR in his time with the Angels, the fourth time in six seasons that he’s finished in the negatives in that metric.
What went right?
Velazquez saw action as a utility player for the Angels before his lack of offense and the return of Zach Neto from injury ultimately cost him his roster spot. The Braves took a flyer on him to provide some defensive depth, but he never saw any action in Atlanta. From his perspective, the fact that any team saw fit to run him out there for close to 100 PAs despite a .221 xwOBA is kind of impressive. And hey, the Braves gave him a steady gig after the Angels said sayonara.
One thing that was kind of amazing about his 94 PAs: he had a walk rate above 10 percent, despite A) seeing way more pitches in the zone than most batters; and B) whiffing way more than most batters. We’re not even sure how that happens, honestly.
What went wrong?
Velazquez has always been viewed as a defensive-first player that struggles with the bat... even though he hasn’t really shown much defensively, either. The bat-struggling part played out again this season, as he had a pitcher-esque set of offensive inputs and outputs.
The fact that he hasn’t even hit well in the minors since a BABIP-fueled 119 wRC+ in 2021 is also a big red flag.
Velazquez would have been arbitration eligible this offseason, but the Braves outrighted him off the 40-man roster on November 1, and he elected free agency. He will be entering his age 29 season and his semblance of some defensive ability in the middle infield should help him latch on with someone. However, his inability to produce anything close to league average at the plate gives him a very low ceiling. He’s about as replacement level as they come.