When Eugenio Velez received a promotion back to the big leagues two weeks ago, the San Francisco Giants' lack of offense wasn't the only reason why people were scratching their heads around AT&T Park.
He has been blessed with speed like a gazelle in the African wilderness and some rare pop despite being built like a toothpick. But he had never put those skills to consistent use. We'd see glimpses of what might be, but never for an extended period of time.
Not only had Velez done nothing in the majors during his previous two season with the Giants, his 2009 was nothing to brag about in the clubhouse or for beat writers to get extremely excited about. His 36 at-bats spanned just 23 games and his .194 batting average was his ticket back to Fresno.
His demotion to Triple-A was not only anticipated, Giants fans that were tired of his lack of production at the plate and shaky defense wherever he played in the field applauded it. Velez's career was seemingly at a crossroads. He seemed to be another position player to come out of the Giant system to be productive at Triple-A yet do nothing in the majors.
But Velez didn't pout about getting sent down, he didn't complain for one single moment. He did nothing but accept it and go to Fresno to work on his game to put himself in a position to get back to the majors.
During his time in Fresno, something clicked. Whether it was consistent playing time for the first time in a long time, some better coaching, less pressure to succeed, we may never really know. His month of July was probably the best of his minor league career. His last 10 games before he was recalled, he recorded five multi-hit games, hitting .333 over the same span.
Not only has Velez kept his hot streak going, he has gotten even hotter.
His stats look like something straight out of any random college student's PlayStation 3. In his first 13 games back in the majors, Velez is hitting .429, an on-base percentage of .458 and slugging a hefty .661. He has also added three home runs and 11 RBI—something that people would have never expected from the 6-foot-1 beanpole who weighs in at just 160 pounds soaking wet.
That's no typo. Those stats are 100 percent accurate.
He's currently in the midst of a 15-game hitting streak (he recorded hits in two-straight games before he was demoted in May). In those 15 games, 11 of them have seen Velez record more than one hit. He has seen his average go from just below the Mendoza line to well over .300.
Can we remember the last time the Giants had a leadoff hitter that produced this much in such a short period of time?
I know I don’t.
Who would’ve thought that all of this would happen basically over the same period of time where the Giants acquired Ryan Garko and Freddy Sanchez to bolster a struggling offense?
We're witnessing the rebirth of Eugenio Velez. And I don't know about you, but I like this version a whole lot better than the last one.
Not only has Velez played himself into the everyday lineup, he has forced Bruce Bochy to keep him in it. Even though he is not blessed with any kind of skills with the leather, the Giants can't afford to sit him right now.
We know when Nate Schierholtz is activated from the disabled list on Tuesday, Velez won’t be the man sent down to Fresno or banished to the bench. People like to rip Bochy for his personnel and lineup decisions, but this one is a no-brainer and even Bochy can see that.
Things are clicking, we're all enjoying the show, and the Giants are reaping the benefits.
And this time, we know what we're going to get from Geno.
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