Primarily a second baseman, the switch-hitter has also played a significant amount of time in left field and even a bit of center but has never spent an entire season as a major leaguer.
2011 was no exception. In his first year with the Dodgers after leaving the Giants, he was bad, incredibly bad. In 40 plate appearances over 34 games for Los Angeles, Velez reached base just three times. Two were via a walk and the other was a hit-by-pitch. The rest of the time, he went 0-for-37, including 11 strikeouts. His line was .000/.075/.075.
For the Dodgers' Triple-A club in Albuquerque last season, Velez had 31 RBI and 33 runs scored in 55 games. His line was .339/.371/.463. He is currently playing for Estrellas de Oriente in the Dominican Winter League, with whom his line is .250/.336/.370 in 108 at-bats.
Velez had been named by Baseball America as the Giants' seventh-best prospect following the 2007 campaign. He also earned a spot on the Arizona Fall League's Top Prospects Team that year, but has never been able to put it together in the majors.
With the Cardinals, Velez seems destined to play what I call the Junior Spivey Memorial Role. As such, I project him to be the next in a long line of former major league second basemen on their way down who end up playing second for the Redbirds, but will probably not make it back to the majors. Others recently making cameo appearances in the role include D'Angelo Jimenez (2008), Ruben Gotay (2010) and both Ramon Vazquez and Freddie Bynum (2011).
To say the 28-year-old is well-traveled is a colossal understatement. Taken by the Red Sox in the 14th round in 2004, Swindle then pitched in independent ball in each of the next three years after being released from the Sox and Yankees. The Vancouver-born hurler also pitched in the 2006 Beijing Olympics for Team Canada and in the Venezuelan Winter League. He then joined the Phillies system in 2007 and 2008.
His 30 minutes of fame came in two 15-minute increments. Swindle appeared in a total of nine major league games, three with the 2008 Phillies and six with the Brewers the next season. He was hammered in both stints, with a career MLB ERA of 12.71 in 11 1/3 mound innings. Swindle's first MLB hitter faced was David Wright, who homered against him.
Earlier this winter, Swindle had a short appearance with Algodoneros de Guasave in the Mexican Pacific League. It did not go well as he went 0-2 with a 6.43 ERA over seven innings.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column during the season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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