About a couple of weeks ago, Eugenio Velez was an afterthought. Heck, I even wrote an article on Bleacher Report about how I felt his tenure as a Giant was probably going to come to an end after this season. After all, if you look at him and his career, there is not a lot to like. He is 27, and for the most part, during his two seasons at the big league level (roughly), Velez has been an afterthought in this Giants organization.
Going into Spring Training this season, he wasn't deemed worthy to compete with Emmanuel Burriss and Kevin Frandsen for the open second base position. So, in order to maximize his value, Velez decided to take his skills into the outfield. However, it didn't matter what position Velez could or couldn't play, for his batting skills that ultimately doomed him early this season as Velez was demoted to Fresno in late May after batting only .194 with a .216 OBP.
After his demotion, many wondered if Velez perhaps would get designated for assignment this year. With Frandsen, Burriss, Juan Uribe and Matt Downs all competing for the second base job, and the outfield already crowded with Fred Lewis and Andres Torres as reserves, Velez simply had no place at the Major League level.
Then, he got his second callup this season, and suddenly, the sentiment concerning Velez has changed.
In his last seven games, Velez has batted .462 with seven RBI. Velez has been a spark plug in the lineup, and manager Bruce Bochy has found it tough to keep the hot-hitting Velez out of the lineup.
Finally, for the first time in his career as a Giant, Velez is starting to show some of that promise he showed last year in Spring Training when even commentators like Jon Miller were singing his praises as the Giants "next big thing."
However, with Freddy Sanchez acquired from the Pirates last week before the Trade Deadline, Velez's situation doesn't seem any better than it was in April. There still aren't a lot of places to put Velez, and once the team gets fully healthy, Velez will have a hard time finding at-bats, even if he continues his hot-hitting pace.
To most people, the best solution with Velez would probably be to deal him while he is hot, and maybe find a suitor that would compensate something decent in exchange for him.
That being said, I think Giants fans should not be so haste with those thoughts. Is Velez's latest callup maybe a flash in the pan? Is it just a hot streak that may not last much longer than next week?
Perhaps, but I don't think anyone can deny that Velez has developed into a different player, especially at the plate. Instead of the free-swinging, impatient kid we saw in April and May chasing everything and anything in and out of the strike zone, Velez has become a very good, clutch hitter.
With the bases loaded against Philadelphia in the sixth inning, Velez tattooed a hit past Ryan Howard to score two runs. Would Velez have done that earlier this year or even last year? Probably not, especially considering in the at-bat, Chan-Ho Park was throwing all the kinds of bait Velez would have hooked upon before.
This simply isn't the same Velez we've been exposed to in his tenure in the Bay Area. Who knows what got to him. Whether he knows this is his last chance at the Major League level, or if he just needed more time at Triple-A Fresno, Velez has certainly stepped up after a disappointing first couple of months this year. He has become an adequate leadoff hitter, and he can be utilized anywhere, from left field to second base. Not many guys on this team have that kind of versatility, which is further reason why Velez should be kept instead of dealt this offseason.
In my mind, Velez is showing something special, and is on the cusp of being something eye-popping. Is he going to be an All-Star? Probably not, but he is going to be a productive player and a unique player that can produce a very high reward for this Giants organization.
Guys like Velez, guys who can make the adjustments to play four or five positions in the field, don't come very often, and it would be a shame to see Brian Sabean waste this opportunity because most people think that his latest performance is just a "fluke."
We will have to see in the next couple of weeks whether or not Velez can continue his stellar play before we can judge him as a "fluke" or not. As great as he has hit these last seven games, it is exactly that: just seven games.
However, I have a feeling Velez has more in store, and there are better things to come with him in the "not to distant" future. I can only hope the Giants organization has the patience to stick with him as he continues to work toward the bigger payoff that I know is coming down the road for this Giants team, and Giants fans.
OPEN GAMETHREAD, 3/3
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