The Cleveland Indians acquired utility man Andrew Velazquez on Wednesday from the Tampa Bay Rays for international bonus pool money of an undisclosed amount.
To make room for the newly acquired Velazquez, the Indians designated his former Durham Bulls teammate, pitcher Chih-Wei Hu, for assignment.
The 24-year-old Velazquez has been a utility man in a very real way for the Rays in his four and a half years in the organization. He has worked at second and third bases and left field in his ten games for the Rays this season and at second, short, third, left, center, and right for the club last year in his 13 games during his debut season. In the minors with the Rays, he has played second, short, third, and center. He has added the outfield to his repertoire during the last three seasons.
The 5’8” switch-hitter scuffled during brief playing time with Tampa this season, going 1-for-12 (.083) at the plate with a double, two runs scored, and six strikeouts. He was 3-for-10 (.300) the season before. Velazquez made his Major League debut against the Indians last season and his only hit this season came against the club.
Velazquez had played just eleven times since being optioned back to Triple-A Durham and was on the injured list there for the second time in June with thumb and hamstring injuries. In 34 total games for the Bulls, he was hitting .271 with a .329 on-base percentage with nine doubles, a triple, four homers, and 16 RBI. He was assigned to the roster of the Columbus Clippers and will remain on the injured list there for the time being.
Hu, 25, was acquired by the Indians in November from Tampa in a trade for minor league infielder/outfielder Gionti Turner. Hu had previously pitched six times in 2017 and five times in 2018 for the Rays, all in relief. He had appeared in 15 games for Triple-A Columbus this season (seven starts and eight relief appearances), posting a 1-4 record with a 7.95 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP while being victimized by the long ball (16 in 48 2/3 innings). The bulk of his peripherals have trended in the wrong direction, as his hit, homer, and walk rates have jumped while his strikeout rate has dropped.
The Rays were looking to open up room on the 40-man roster and Velazquez was already out of action on the minor league injured list. It was one of two minor trades made by the Rays on Wednesday, as the team also dealt right-handed reliever Casey Sadler to the Los Angeles Dodgers for minor league pitcher Nathan Witt after designating him for assignment earlier in the week.
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