Antonio Velez was an important asset to the FSU pitching staff after transferring from Hillsborough Community College last season, but his role will become even more important in 2020. Velez threw the sixth most innings on the team in 2019 and made the most midweek starts of any FSU pitcher. The HCC-transfer didn’t beat himself last season, walking just 11 batters in 45.1 IP and striking out 50 batters. For the season, Velez compiled a 4.17 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. The lefty had multiple good moments in the season, but saved his best for last.
Velez will always be remembered at FSU for his performance in Baton Rouge that led the ‘Noles and Mike Martin to Omaha. Velez battled for four innings and kept the Tigers off the board and gave Drew Mendoza the chance to walk it off. The JUCO-transfer had an up-and-down season but came through when it mattered. The lefty made four appearances out of the pen and gave up just two runs in nine innings of work in the postseason. Velez allowed just eight baserunners while striking out 13 batters in the Seminoles’ postseason run.
Like many lefties, Antonio is a crafty pitcher that comes at hitters in many different ways. Velez’s fastball will sit from 88-90 MPH and get up to 91-92 MPH once in a while. The FB has running two-seam action that is hard for both righties and lefties to get up in the air for extra base hits. Velez’s breaking ball is a pitch that can change from time-to-time between a slider and a curve so let’s just say it’s a slurve that often ranges in the high 70’s. The lefty also uses a tailing changeup against righties to keep them off the fastball. The nasty slurve makes Velez most effective versus lefties, but the changeup gives him the ability to face RHH batters and work effectively against them as well.
You’ve heard of utility position players, well Velez will likely be a utility pitcher in 2020. Velez could grab midweek starts, be a lefty specialist, a set-up man, or a closer. The lefty can be thrown into any situation and any game against righties or lefties and have the ability to be effective. Velez may get hit around from time-to-time, but he won’t give up free bases and beat himself in high-leverage situations.