Sometimes dreams come true at the most inopportune time, for Prep graduate, Andrew Velazquez ’12, it happened in the middle of the night. “It was two in the morning and I wasn’t asleep yet. I missed the initial call from the AAA manager, but when I called him back, he told me I had a 9 am flight because I was being called up.” Yes, Velazquez was part of the September call-ups when teams expand their rosters late in the year to give new players a shot.
Velazquez collected his first major league hit - a single- just a few days later. Interestingly, it wasn’t the largeness of the moment that overwhelmed him, it was something more pragmatic. “I was surprised at how well you could see the ball. The lighting was unbelievable. I guess in big league stadiums there is more light. Also, I mean, the adrenaline and it being my first at-bat, I was locked in. I wasn’t as jittery or nervous as I thought I might have been.” The base hit came off Luis Ortiz of the Orioles, a pitcher Velazquez faced in the minors earlier in the year.
Velazquez is hoping to turn his this chance into a full-time career in the majors. He cites his time at the Prep as a calming force in his life and recounts how it prepared him for success. “I made lifelong friends there and the Prep really taught me how to deal with the things baseball was throwing in my way, like discipline and accountability. Velazquez remembers a special moment that he shared with his Prep friends: “When I was drafted (by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the seventh round), I was with the baseball team on a trip to St. John’s for a game. I got to experience that with my teammates and friends, and that was cool.”
But perhaps the biggest influence from the Prep on Velazquez’s career came from assistant baseball coach, Bob McLaughlin. “Coach introduced me to a lot of stuff in the gym that I otherwise wouldn’t have known. He demonstrated how to use the machinery, and there was stuff I didn’t know at the time. That definitely made a difference for me.”
So the next time the students argue about whether they like the Mets or the Yankees best, perhaps they will think about their Fordham Prep brother, Andrew Velazquez, and root for the Rays.