The Baltimore Orioles have claimed utility man Andrew Velazquez off waivers from the Cleveland Indians.
We’re just days away from the Baltimore Orioles taking the field for their first spring training game on Saturday against the Atlanta Braves, but Mike Elias isn’t done bringing in new players to camp to battle for open roster spots.
As announced by the team on Wednesday afternoon, the Orioles have claimed infielder Andrew Velazquez off waivers from the Cleveland Indians. Infielder Richard Urena, a previous waiver claim from the Toronto Blue Jays, has been designated for assignment to make room for Velazquez on the 40-man roster.
Velazquez is a 25-year-old switch-hitter who previously spent time in the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays organizations before being traded to Cleveland in July of last season for cash considerations.
A former seventh-round pick out of Fordham, Velazquez has appeared in just 28 games at the big league level, going 5-33 (.152 average) with three doubles, two walks, and 16 strikeouts. He has spent the majority of the last two seasons at the Triple-A level where he put up a slash line of .260/.313/.415 with 16 home runs, 29 doubles, and eight triples, adding in 32 stolen bases at an 80% success rate.
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As with most recent waiver claim additions of the Orioles, Velazquez was brought in for his defensive abilities and versatility, not so much his bat. Since making his professional debut in 2012, Velazquez has played every position on the field except for catcher, pitcher, and first base. Even in his very brief amount of time in the major leagues, he has seen time at six different positions.
Urena figured to be a serious contender for a utility job with the Orioles this season, but will now have a little extra pressure put on him if he wants the position. He still has to clear waivers before returning to the organization, but if he does return, Urena will now have to compete with Stevie Wilkerson, Pat Valaika, Richie Martin, Ramon Urias, and a long list of non-roster invitees.
Velazquez spent time over the winter in Puerto Rico where he hit just .143 in 12 games.