Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff ERA IP H ER BB SO WHIP H9 SO/W 2013 23 Evansville FRON Ind 1.00 9.0 6 1 6 8 1.333 6.0 1.33 2014 24 Evansville FRON Ind 2.53 57.0 44 16 33 82 1.351 6.9 2.48 2015 25 3 Teams 3 Lgs A-A+ MIA-MIN 4.29 50.1 40 24 18 69 1.152 7.2 3.83 2015 25 Greensboro SALL A MIA 4.80 30.0 24 16 11 42 1.167 7.2 3.82 2015 25 CedarRapids MIDW A MIN 4.11 15.1 15 7 7 22 1.435 8.8 3.14 2015 25 FortMyers FLOR A+ MIN 1.80 5.0 1 1 0 5 0.200 1.8 2016 26 Jupiter FLOR A+ MIA 3.79 19.0 16 8 13 22 1.526 7.6 1.69 Minors (2 seasons) Minors 4.15 69.1 56 32 31 91 1.255 7.3 2.94 Other (2 seasons) Other 2.32 66.0 50 17 39 90 1.348 6.8 2.31 All Levels (4 Seasons) 3.26 135.1 106 49 70 181 1.300 7.0 2.59
From injury to Mike Dunn and the combined struggles of Craig Breslow, Cody Ege and others, the Marlins have had a rough time enlisting quality left handed relief help this year. But while things may be dim right now, the future is bright when it comes to southpaw relievers. One of the biggest reasons why is the guy I will take a closer look at in this prospect profile, the Hammerheads’ Jose Velez.
Jose Angel de Jesus Velez is a 26-year-old lefty who had quite the upbringing, spending time all over the country which readied him for the life of travel he has already seen and will continue to see in his baseball career. Born in 1989 in New York City, Velez made the move to South Florida for his high school days where he attended South Ft. Myers High School and where he was already reaching velos of 90 MPH and was described as a “no-brainer” athletically with the work ethic to match. Following high school, Velez made the move back north to Michigan where he attended the independent Alma College in the city of Alma, just north of Grand Rapids and just northwest of Detroit. In one season there, he appeared in 10 games (6 starts), tossed 44 innings, held down a 2.62 ERA, a 1.28 WHIP and struck out a ridiculous 78 batters (15.72 K/9) but he also totaled 34 walks. Though the K total and the velo were plenty impressive, commitment to the game off the field as well as his obvious control issues nearly walking as many batters as innings he had pitched left him undrafted in 2013 and instead selected by another independent league team, the Evansville Otters. Velez’s history of not being able to apply himself off the field came to fruition that year when he suffered a multitude of injuries, only totaling 9 IP and finishing the year on the DL. After that wake-up call though, Velez returned with a vengeance. In better shape with a better daily regiment, a 24-year-old fireballer had one of the best comeback relief seasons in Evansville Otters history, tossing 57 IP in 30 games, holding down a 2.53 ERA, an 82/33 K/BB (13 K/9, 2.48 K/BB), and in one game, striking out a Frontier League record-tying 16 batters. His merits didn’t go unnoticed that year as in October of 2014, he was signed by his first major league team, the Minnesota Twins, a dream come true for Velez, undoubtedly but a short-lived one as after just 20.1 IP at a 4.29 ERA as a 25-year-old albeit at a still impressive 42/11 K/BB, the Twins released him. That is where his career with the Marlins began as on July 2nd, 2015, Velez was signed by the Marlins to a minor league contract. He was sent to Greensboro where, for the rest of the year, he didn’t have a great year from initial looks, running up a 4.8 ERA in 30 IP. However, delving a bit further into his stats shows he held down a 2.80 FIP. Also, away from NewBridge Bank Park which has proven to favorite hitters since 2008 producing a park factor well over 1 in homers (1.649) and slightly over 1 in hits (1.101) making it the most hitter friendly in the Sally League, Velez was much more effective. In the rest of the Sally League’s more neutral parks, Velez’s ERA was 4 points lower (2.63 as opposed to 6.61 at home) in nearly as many innings pitched (13.2 to 16.1). Fast forwarding to this season, in the much more pitcher friendly Florida State League including the extremely offensive suppressing Roger Dean Stadium, Velez has held down a 3.79 ERA with literally all of his damage allowed coming in 6.1 IP on the road. At the Dean, Velez has been perfect, allowing just 8 hits in 12.2 IP. While Velez is hard to gauge at the moment due to him never throwing in a truly neutral environment, the FIP differentials from last year in Greensboro (4.80 ERA, 2.75 FIP (+2.15)) compared to this year (3.79 ERA, 3.6 FIP (+0.19)) suggest that this year’s version of a still-improving Velez who has just 69.1 IP to his credit in his professional career is more on par with the type of prospect the Marlins should expect him to be: a slightly above average late inning reliever with the ability to become more.
Pre-pitch, Velez owns a mechanically sound repeatable and deceptive delivery. After going in to the wind up, Velez rocks back with a high leg kick placing all of his weight on his back leg and stretches his arm all the way back, reaching out for every bit of velo to be had before coming home from a low sidearm delivery from the left side. Throwing downhill with a long front leg stride, Velez holds the ball until his front foot is nearly on the ground, shortening the distance to the plate advantageously and also rewarding him with a great pick-off move to first. His velo usually sits in the 94-96 MPH range but when he ramps up, he has the ability to get the fastball up in the 98-99 MPH range. The rest of his arsenal consists of a mid-80s running changeup with good fade to the outside part of the plate and a pitch he has the confidence in to use interchangeably with the fastball early in ABs. The pitch compliments the fact that he has such control over his fastball that he is not afraid to use it to back hitters off the plate buzzing them with high 90s cheddar before using the change on the outside black. Velez’s out pitch is a still developing curveball that he piggybacks on the fastball and dips down in to the 75 MPH range, making it a downright unfair offering when it is hitting its spot. The pitch still needs a bit of refinement though as he has a tendency to hang it deep in long ABs making it a tasty morsel for opposing hitters. Velez has made strides this year since developing feel for the pitch last year. Should that continue, the max-effort reliever who is effective versus hitters from both sides and who has tossed shutout ball all year so far this season with the exception of two rough outings could become valuable late inning relief, setup and closing help in the upper levels of the minors before making an impact with the Marlins as early as 2017.