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Thursday, February 9, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: VINCE VELASQUEZ SP PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Already possessing two terrific and young pitchers will vast upsides in Aaron Nola and Jerad Eickhoff, the Philadelphia Phillies can claim a "Big Three" when the very hard-throwing righty Vince Velasquez is included.  Just 25-years-old, Velasquez was the prize the Phillies received from the Houston Astros when they moved closer Ken Giles East.  While Velasquez had a history of health woes in his elbow/shoulder, the Phils put him right into the rotation to begin the 2016 season.  At least initially, the Phillies looked like they had something special on their hands as Velasquez struck out a monster 16 batters in his second start of the year against the San Diego Padres and overall he punched out batters at a tremendous 10.44 K/9 rate.  Alas Velasquez was only able to amass 131 innings last season as he once again dealt with two bouts of arm soreness, with the first costing him two starts in June and the second finishing his season for good in early September.

Now again when it comes to ability, Velasquez is your classic power arm whose fastball approaches triple-digits.  The downside here includes a few issues though, with the most obvious being Velasquez' ill health.  No matter how potent a sleeper a player may be, he can't help you if he is out injured.  Velasquez has not proven that he can hold up to being a firm every five days starter and it is possible he could be moved to the bullpen where there would be less wear and tear and his potent power stuff would be even more tough to handle for hitters.  In addition, Velasquez has a bad home run problem which is a very bad fit in the launching pad that is the Philadelphia home ballpark.  21 home runs in those 131 innings is a horrific ratio and that makes any one start for Velasquez risky.  Finally, Velasquez will be allowed to only throw at most 170 innings this season given his youth and of course there is no guarantee health-wise he gets that high.

So when you put it all together, Vince Velasquez has terrific upside but more than a few red flags that makes him one you don't want to overpay for,  If the price gets too high, let Velasquez go without regret.  If not, then scoop him up and hope he works through the home run problems which will make his highK rate even more interesting this season.

2017 PROJECTION:  9-5 3.97 1.20 WHIP 159 K  


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