Every baseball player grows up dreaming of playing for their favorite team and sharing the same stage as their heros. For Andrew Velazquez of the New York Yankees this dream has become a reality. Born in the Bronx to Margaret and Kenny Maldonado-Velazquez, Andrew grew up playing in the shadows of Yankee’s Stadium. As a local kid watching the Yankees dominate the late 90’s-early 2000’s it is safe to say Velazquez shared in that same dream.
Velazquez was a two-sport athlete in high school and earned a scholarship to play baseball at Virginia Tech. In 2012, however, he was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 7th round allowing him to side step his previous commitments. Before signing with the Yankees this off season, Velazquez made stints with the D-Backs, Rays, Cleveland and Orioles appearing in 68 total games. With not much major league experience and a loaded roster, the signing went seemingly unnoticed.
The Velazquez Effect
On July 31 the Yankees sat in third place in the AL East behind the Rays and Red Sox respectively. With injuries to Gleyber Torres and Gio Urshela a void would soon be left to fill in the Yankee infield. After a great start in August, Velazquez was asked to fill the shortstop role. He quickly found himself leading one of the hottest teams in baseball. Although his stat line may not reflect it (.242/.254/.387), the value he brings to the Yankees is undeniable. Through a rough stretch of injuries and uncertainty about the future, Velazquez gave Yankee fans something to cheer about. The Yankees had a historic August going 21-8 despite injuries to their line up and a COVID outbreak ravaging their rotation. Can this be directly related to Velazquez? No. However, the energy brought to the stadium and refusal to lose prove why he is in pinstripes.
With playoff hopes on the line it will be exciting to see how the Velazquez’s season plays out. Although Torres has been activated, Velazquez remains on the roster and should play a role moving forward. Will the Bronx native bring a championship back to New York? Only time will tell. But for a kid residing in his childhood home- it is hard to not root for Andrew Velazquez.
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