After a strong season in 2021 with the Single-A Daytona Tortugas, Daniel Vellojin’s 2022 season didn’t get out to the start he would have preferred. The catcher missed the first six weeks of the season after a hamate bone injury in spring training. When he returned to the field he was sent to Daytona for 20 games before moving up to Dayton where he played in 21 games. He then moved up to Double-A Chattanooga where he played in 29 games before the season came to an end. In his 271 plate appearances he hit just .199/.327/.358 – hitting well in Dayton, but hitting under .200 in both Daytona and Chattanooga during the year.
After only playing in 70 games during the season, the 22-year-old headed back home and joined the Vaqueros de Monteria in the Colombian Professional Baseball League (the Colombian Winter League). Vellojin has been on an absolute tear this winter and is leading the league in home runs and by a wide margin.
Friday night saw him continue his offensive outburst. In a Vaqueros win, Vellojin went 3-4 with two doubles and his 11th home run. No one else in the league has more than eight home runs. His two doubles on the night gave him 10 for the season, which is tied for 7th in the league.
Through 36 games played and 164 plate appearances, Daniel Vellojin is hitting .298/.433/.626 with 10 doubles, 11 home runs, 29 walks, and 29 strikeouts. He has more extra-base hits than he does singles (18 singles, 21 extra-base hits). Vellojin has seen time behind the plate and at first base, but also has a few starts as the team’s designated hitter.
22 was the year of the Hamate. It will be nice to see some of these guys get their bats back in 23.
He is my #23 prospect. Love his potential. I ignore his Dayton stats. That was just ST in my mind.
I used to feel he had an offensive ceiling of Stephenson (maybe with a slightly higher OBP than Stephenson).
I still think he can have a OBP of .350 – .400 at the ML level. But now I am starting to think he has the potential for an ISO north of .200 when before I felt he was a .150 – .200 ISO type. After seeing this I realize that Daytona potentially depressed his ISO (like it does with most players). I felt he was rushed to Chattanooga so I took those stats with a grain of salt when I locked him into the #23 slot in my rankings.
Now I see this performance and feel I may not have been aggressive enough with him in my rankings. I will be interested to see if he can maintain an ISO greater than .200 vs. AA and AAA pitchers next summer.
This may sound crazy but if he has an ISO greater than .250 next July he may vie for a spot in my top 5. That should also make him a top 100 player overall also.
Not that familiar with Colombian League. Would it be considered equivalent to Class A ball?
The chase for #5.
The first four spots in my top 25 seem pretty secure come July unless EDLC graduates.
EDLC, Marte, Collier and Arroyo seem safe in my top five. However, there is a gap between Arroyo and Phillips. Therefore several players could jump into the top 100 prospects overall and hence top 5 on the Reds.
Vellojin’s performance this winter says he may be seeking that 5th spot.
Here are the contenders:
Current #5. Connor Phillips. If he pitches the way he did at the end of the year then come July he will be tough to unseat.
#6. Chase Petty. He was better than the stats suggest last year and should soar up the prospects ranks this year. Maybe that will place him in the top 5.
#8. Andrew Abbott. Harder to see this one. He has to excel and others have to falter.
#9. Matt McLain. If he combines his 2022 ISO with his 2021 K% he could be a top 50 prospect again.
#10. Joe Boyle. It is all about his BB%. His ceiling is top 10 overall prospect in baseball. His floor is outside the top 500. If he can reduce his BB/9 to something less than 5 next year he could very well be a top 50 prospect overall and a Red top 5 prospect.
#11. Austin Hendrick. Keep his K% south of 25%, his BB% north of 12.5% and his ISO north of .250 and he could be the new #5.
#12. CES. See Austin Hendrick.
#13. Jorge. Only at Daytona so it would be difficult to move into the top 5. But if his K% was less than 20% and his ISO greater than .300 he could do it. Very unlikely.
#16 Jay Allen. BB% greater than 10%, K% less than15%, ISO greater than .200. A very unlikely trifecta
#18. Siani. K% less than17%, ISO greater than .200
#20. Ariel Almonte. See Carlos Jorge.
#23. Daniel Vellojin. K% is 5% less than his ISO. OBP greater than .400
Siani potentially at #5? Reall?
At this point he is the only potential#5 on Stock’s list whose obituary would list as a Big Leaguer.
Would a repeat performance in the Arizona League by Carlos Sanchez get him there (same or better numbers)?
Sanchez is at 25 right now and he won’t even start playing until after midseason. That said nothing Sanchez does in AZ will get him into the top 10. After seeing Jay Allen shine in AZ and then struggle in Daytona, there is no way he enters my top 10 prior to playing in full season ball.
Jay Allen is the reason I have Marte over Collier still
Thanks for the reply Stock.
Happy New Year
You are welcome and a Happy New Year to you too Greenfield Red.
Vellojin is a very important prospect. He is a catching prospect at the upper levels that has some offensive talent. Reds have put a ton of draft capital in the catcher position the last 3 years with very little to show for it. In fact, I think they have plain whiffed at drafting the position lately. Vellojin can help minimize this if he can catch fire in 2023.
They have for the most part whiffed at drafting catchers. They draft catchers who strike out too much in college and think they have something. I am hoping they finally got a hit with Cade Hunter.
Between Vellojin, Hunter and Duno the Reds are doing pretty well down on the farm.
Just reread Doug’s State of the Farm article on the Red’s catchers. One red flag for Vellojin this year was his 13 passed balls in about 500 innings. Aside from his bat, this will have to improve in 2023 for him to move into consideration in the Red’s future plans.
I looked back at the February 10, 2022 article Doug wrote about Vellojin.
Behind the plate is where Daniel Vellojin sticks out. He’s well regarded for his defense, showing a strong arm that helps control the running game, a good ability to call the game, and shows soft and quiet hands. Defensively he’s got everything you want to see from a big-league caliber defender.
Thanks for sharing the scouting report. When I compare his number of passed balls on a per inning basis with other Red’s catchers, his rate doesn’t seem overly high. However, at the Major League level, only 40 catchers logged 500 or more innings. The most passed balls for a player in that group was 9. Just something to watch moving forward.
I know it’s easier to catch pitchers with better control, perhaps it accounts for the higher numbers of passed balls among the Red’s MiLB catchers.
The one thing on reports this year with Vellojin that kept coming up is that he’s not good on balls in the dirt. Good in other areas behind the plate, but he doesn’t block well at all. We’ll see how it improves moving forward.
I saw him a lot and wasn’t impressed in any part of his game. Fron the eye test, Nelson is much more fundamentally sound.
Is Vellojin a free agent after 2023 if he does not reach MLB? Wonder if he can make it?
He will need to be added to the 40 man roster or risk being exposed to the rule 5 draft. If he does well next season he will be added to the 40 man roster and the Reds will have 3 options with him at that point.
If we can develop just one catcher to support Tyler Stephenson, the Reds minor league development will have succeeded IMO. There’s a large deficit in catchers across all systems. We’ve used a lot of ‘draft capital’ on catchers, as noted above. I don’t believe the draftees Hudson, Okey, Nelson and Tanner aren’t talented. It’s got to be really hard to get these kids there.
I wouldn’t mind seeing Vellojin start in Dayton, find his stroke, polish his defense, etc. Those hamate injuries can really derail things. It’s pretty difficult to rebuild hand strength after surgery.
Speaking of injured Catchers, any word on Jackson Miller? He was a 2nd rounder, with almost 0 MILB games under his belt. I doubt he can miss anymore time before becoming obsolete.
I would say its already too late as a catcher. Missing 2-1/2 years for a high school catcher is probably not feasible. I seem to remember he was noted to be extremely athletic for a catcher and capable of playing other positions. That’s probably the more likely track for Miller at this point.
That’s my fear to, hopefully not.
I mean there’s not much to say other than maybe this will be the year he actually plays some games.
What is/was the injury? Turns 21 tomorrow – still time for a catcher, but clearly needs at least 2 full healthy years beginning now.
I wish the Reds would convert an infielder or two who can hit a little bit into a catcher. Somebody like Austin Callahan would work. He showed some bat at Daytona last year, and doesn’t turn 22 until June.
It isn’t like it can’t be taught. Bob Boone was a college third baseman, and didn’t catch in MiLB until his age 23 season. Buster Posey was a good shortstop his freshman year of college. Austin Nola of the Padres converted to catching at age 26.
It would be a lot easier than expecting a catcher who whiffs too much against college pitchers to learn how to hit much better pitching.
Who was the last “converted into a catcher” who actually turned into a useful big leaguer? While I obviously don’t have the background on everyone, I’m struggling to think of an example.
I asked on twitter and the answers seem to be Russell Martin, who moved to catcher nearly 20 years ago, and Willson Contreras if we’re looking at guys who became average or better catchers in the last 20 years. Robinson Chirinos may or may not apply depending on how you want to determine average or batter catcher.
Some guys weren’t primary catchers prior to being drafted, but had some catching experience who turned out well after making the full time switch, with JT Realmuto being the biggest guy from this group.
Well, Austin Nola had a bWAR of 2.0 last year. Wilson Contreras converted to catcher at age 20.
Too many of the college catchers are catchers because they aren’t athletic enough to play anywhere else, even at a Florida State. The amateur catchers who can hit, such as Bryce Harper and Joey Votto, become position players very quickly.
That leaves a big hole, so the idea is to convert a guy like Callahan, a Nebraska guy who is a fair athlete and who has a decent bat but one that is unlikely to get him to the big leagues as a 3rd baseman.
Gus Steiger would work, too, although he is pretty fast. Steiger is from Brainerd, Minnesota, so he draws pictures of ducks for stamps.
Austin Nola didn’t debut until he was 29 and at age 32 he finally got more than 270 plate appearances in a single season.
That is certainly useful, but that’s not exactly the path I’d be looking at for anyone that could have some other path to being a big leaguer.
Nola didn’t convert to catcher at age 26, so that shows that in 3 years, a guy can learn enough to catch in MLB. A 22-year-old guy like Callahan (and I use him only as an example) doesn’t really have a solid path to MLB as a third basemen by age 25.
What do the Reds (or a guy like Callahan) have to lose by trying it? From the Reds’ point of view, they have produced one very good catcher in the last 10 years, and all others are not quite replacement level. (And Stephenson will turn out to be a 1B or LF in a couple of years.) What they are doing with catching is not working.
From the players’ perspective, Nola has made about $2 million by age 32, which is more than the average LSU grad in his first 10 years out of school. He is now arbitration-eligible this year after a 2.0 WAR season.
Not your decision, of course.
I think minor leaguers in general ought to play several positions, else management gets a little rigid/myopic in its outlook on them. It’s fine if the player is Ozzie Smith or Johnny Bench, or an obvious centerfielder like Siani, but the ordinary guy oughta shift around a lot.
Why doesn’t a guy like Callahan have that path? Not everyone must have a path to something as a Cincinnati Red. Trades exist.
As for Callahan, or anyone else being asked to make such a move – they’ve got plenty of development time at the plate to lose. If you can hit, someone’s gonna eventually find a place for you on a roster. When you catch you spend far less time developing as a hitter than you do if you play any other position. And you also are far more likely to get injured. You also play far fewer games just because catching almost doesn’t allow you to play every day.
If I were a player I would never move behind the plate until there was no other option but go become a regular Joe working a 9-5 or try to catch. The risk/reward isn’t there, IMO, from a player standpoint.
But don’t you pretty much already have Callahan (for example) down as a regular Joe 9-5 type? He is well below Cerda on your prospect list, and you concede that Cerda is borderline. Callahan is a bigger longshot as a normal position player than Cerda. His best chance with his skill set may be to switch to catcher now, rather than later.
I hear what you are saying about ABs, but they can use a catcher-convert at 1B and DH some, too, to get ABs. Ryan Hanigan had 11 major-league PAs through his age 26 season, and he still made over $16 million in baseball.
I think that they oughta give let a few guys try to be knuckleballers, too. Today’s modern hard-swingers would be tied in knots by a Phil Niekro.
It doesn’t really matter if I (the team) has that or not – the player doesn’t have themselves as that.