BY JASON COHEN
Andrew Velazquez grew up
idolizing Derek Jeter and dreaming
of one day donning the pinstripes.
Well, those dreams have
turned to reality as the Morris
Park native has taken the MLB
by storm and helped catapult the
Yankees to the top of the AL Wild
Card playoff picture.
From making flashy plays
in the field to a memorable home
run, Velazquez told the Bronx
Times that playing in the house
that Ruth built is surreal.
“There are moments on the
field where I’ve had the chance
to look around and absorb the energy,”
Signed by the Yankees in the
spring, Velazquez, 27, spent most
of the year in the minors until
shortstop Gleyber Torres went
down with an injury. He finally
got his chance on Aug. 9, when he
was called up to the majors.
In his second game with the
Bronx Bombers, he scored his
first run on a wild pitch and has
continued to perform in limited
time. So far this season, Velazquez
has 13 hits, one home run, six RBI,
three stolen bases and has scored
nine runs while batting a respectable
.245. On Aug. 21, he hit his first
career home run in front of his
family at Yankee stadium.
For Velazquez, it’s always been
He was raised by a retired
NYPD detective and a teacher.
Even with his dad, Ken, working
long hours as a cop, he always
made time for his son.
“He was the one who instilled
the love of sports in me,”
But it was his mother, Margaret,
who was the glue that held the
While he played football,
hockey and ran track, America’s
pastime has always been
his passion. “Before I was able
to even walk, I was swinging a
bat and ball,” he said.
He fi rst stepped on the diamond
around age 5 or 6 and as
he got older, quickly realized he
was good at the game. Velazquez
attended Fordham Prep high
school, where he soon saw he
had the talent to play at the next
level. Fordham didn’t just help
him with baseball though, it
also showed him how to act as a
young man, he said.
BRONX TIMES R 10 EPORTER, SEPT. 3-9, 2021 BTR
“I think the kids who went
there were taught how to be better
people in society,” he said.
He played center field until his
senior year, when he became the
team’s starting shortstop. In his
senior year, the New York Post
named Velazquez their All-Bronx
Baseball Player of the Year.
George Pisanti, Velazquez’s
JV baseball coach at Fordham
Prep, said Velazquez could play
any position and he always envisioned
big things for him. “He
was a rare commodity,” he said.
“He was a switch hitter at such
a young age. He had more speed
than anyone on the field.”
Pisanti had many players go
on to play at the collegiate level,
but Velazquez is the fi rst to make
it to the majors.
While he received an athletic
scholarship to play college baseball
at Virginia Tech, he decided
to skip college when was selected
in the seventh round of the 2012
Major League Baseball Draft by
the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“In the back of my head I
know this was what I always
wanted to do,” Velazquez said.
Andrew Velazquez, a high school baseball stnadout at nearby Fordham
Prep, has earned his pinstripes after being called up from the minors on
Aug. 9, 2021. Photo courtesy New York Yankees
Velazquez spent several
years in the minors before abbreviated
stints playing for
the Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland
Indians and Tampa Bay
Rays. He made his major
league debut in 2018, but he
still hadn’t broken through.
Everything changed on Dec.
16, 2020, when he signed a minor
league contract with the Yankees.
“Even before I signed, I was
getting word that the Yankees
were interested and that was
pretty awesome,” he said. “I’m
taking it one pitch and one day at
Pisanti told the Bronx Times
that while his speed and defense
have always been there,
Velazquez’s issue in the minors
was consistent hitting. Now that
he appears to have conquered
that, the sky is the limit, he said.
“He chose the Yankees because
he wanted to take that
chance and play for his childhood
team,” Pisanti said. “He really did
everything on his own. He’s a special
Morris Park native, Fordham
Prep grad shines in pinstripes
2173 White Plains Road OPEN
Just South of Pelham Pkwy.
WE CARRY A FULL
WE CARRY A WIDE VARIETY OF
Organic Foods, Herbs, Homeopathic Products & More