GONZALES — Derick Velazquez admitted he was zoning out.
While following the draft online from his mom’s house in Gonzales, the former Los Banos High School and Merced College star received word he was likely going in the fifth round of the Major League Baseball draft Friday. When the round came and went without his name called, the right-hander’s attention began to waiver.
As it turned out, the Fresno State junior didn’t need to wait much longer. The Houston Astros selected Velazquez with the first pick of the seventh round (196th overall).
“I’m a little bit speechless right now,” Velazquez said. “I’d hoped to go earlier, but I went right around where I was projected to (go), so I’m feeling good.
“I was following online but only kind of paying attention. When that team decided to go with someone else in the fifth round, I was pretty disappointed. My adviser sent me a text letting me know I might be getting picked, and I tuned in in time to hear the announcer say my name.”
Velazquez was 3-5 with a 4.79 ERA for the Bulldogs this season. He pitched primarily in relief, making 28 appearances and striking out 38 in 561/3 innings.
He was drafted in the 15th round by the Baltimore Orioles in 2012. Velazquez was estimated to go in the top three to five rounds after a sensational freshman campaign at Merced College, but signability concerns dropped him to the mid rounds. He opted to play at Fresno State instead.
Velazquez acknowledged he could have gone earlier in the 2012 draft but thought the two extra years of experience would pay dividends in the long run.
“I’m a little mentally tougher now,” Velazquez said. “I understand just how many good players are out there and what it’s going to take to stand out from them.
“The Astros are an organization that is rebuilding and has a ton of prospects, so it’s going to be a good system to come up through. I’ve already talked to someone from the team, and they said they want to try and get a deal done soon. I’m excited and looking forward to the challenge.”
Sun-Star staff writer Sean Lynch can be reached at (209) 385-2476 or email@example.com.