For the first time in six years, pitcher Vince Velasquez will call a city outside of Philadelphia his baseball home.
The right-hander will become a member of the San Diego Padres after signing a minor-league deal with the organization, the team announced on Wednesday. Velasquez is set to be activated and make a start for the Padres this weekend.
The 29-year-old was a free agent following his release by the Phillies on Sunday. Velasquez had been pitching for Philadelphia since 2016.
The Phillies acquired Velasquez prior to the 2016 season in a trade with the Houston Astros, and his first impression with his new team was as spectacular as anyone could’ve imagined. In his first start at Citizens Bank Park, he struck out 16 batters against the club he’ll now join in a 3-0 complete-game shutout victory over the Padres.
But Velasquez never quite replicated that type of performance during the rest of his Phillies tenure. In six seasons, he had a 4.93 ERA across 133 games and 116 starts, while averaging under five innings per start.
Despite this, Velasquez largely remained a mainstay in Philadelphia’s rotation over the years — even into this season. His role was shuffled at times, but Velasquez made 17 starts in 2021. He put together a stretch of really solid outings in May, but the success didn’t last as he recorded a 5.95 ERA in 21 appearances.
Velasquez made his final start with the Phillies on July 30 against the Pirates, and it was not a pretty one. He gave up five earned runs in two innings in a 7-0 loss at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park. The next day, Velasquez hit the injured list with a blister.
The pitcher began a minor-league rehab assignment on Aug. 17, making four appearances for Single-A Clearwater and two for Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Upon its conclusion, the Phillies opted to part ways with Velasquez, one of their longest-tenured players, as they designated him for assignment and ultimately released him.
That left Velasquez available for a team like the Padres, who are in need of starting pitching after placing left-hander Blake Snell on the 10-day injured list on Wednesday as well. He’ll meet another former Phillies starter in Jake Arrieta in San Diego’s rotation. The former Cy Young Award winner was released by the Chicago Cubs and later picked up by the Padres last month.
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