Nelson Velazquez | Rank: 21 (Preseason: 15)
Team: South Bend Cubs (A)ETA: 2022Position: OFAge: 20 DOB: 12/26/1998Bats: R Throws: RHeight: 6′ 0″ Weight: 190 lb.Drafted: 2017, 5th (165) – CHC
Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 55 | Run: 50 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Velazquez played at Lake Worth (Fla.) High as a junior in 2016, then moved back to Puerto Rico after he was ruled ineligible. One of the few teams with a full-time area scout on the island (former big leaguer Edwards Guzman), the Cubs fell in love with his tools early and paid him an over-slot $400,000 bonus in the fifth round of the 2017 Draft. Overmatched in low Class A at the start of his first full pro season, he rebounded to finish fifth in the short-season Northwest League with 11 homers.
Velazquez has the most raw power in Chicago’s system, as well as some of the best bat speed, strength and all-around tools. He could pile up home runs by letting them come naturally, but instead he uses an overly aggressive and pull-happy approach. He struck out in 30 percent of his plate appearances during his first two seasons and he won’t make enough contact to survive against more advanced pitching unless he makes some adjustments.
While Velazquez can show solid speed out of the batter’s box and plus speed underway, he has already lost a half-step as he has begun to mature physically and likely will wind up as an average runner. He has played all three outfield spots in pro ball and needs to improve his jumps and reads. His prodigious power and his strong arm fit the right-field profile.