HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (BVM) – Ralphy Velazquez has been waiting for his senior year for a long time.
And it’s not just him who’s been waiting on the 2023 season.
Velazquez and his hitting coach/father have been working towards his final campaign since the Huntington Beach catcher’s opening into the game at the age of 4.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment my whole life,” Velazquez said of his final high school baseball season. “Me and my dad have been talking about [it] and it’s been a grind to get to this senior year. We’ve worked really hard. He’s been my hitting coach since I was little. We went into this year knowing that we’re going to dominate and I think I did just that.”
The Velazquez’s are a baseball family through and through with his dad once playing at the collegiate level and his mom a former successful softball pitcher during her time at the high school level. The family has passed down that same passion for the sport to the Huntington Beach star who has taken it and ran with it.
Velazquez, now ranked as the No. 2 catcher in the country by Perfect Game and the No. 1 overall player in the state of California, has a special connection to his parents who have been integral in his rise through the game.
“They are the biggest supporters in my career,” Velazquez said. “I would not be here without them. I know everyone says that about their parents but I genuinely love them… They’ve helped me get to where I am today.”
The Oilers backstop has steadily worked his way into becoming one of the country’s top players throughout the past four years with those around the game pointing to his ability to hit for power. The attribute is something that has followed Velazquez since he was little and has only increased since he started working out once he got to high school. After impressing as one of the top hitters in the state over the past few seasons, Velazquez entered the offseason before his senior year with the chance to grow all parts of his game.
“You can’t be perfect at one thing, you just have to get better at everything,” Velazquez said when asked about his focus heading into the year. “We worked on catching, hitting, and leadership skills. You can name everything, we worked on it. You can never be perfect at something, you got to keep working hard at it to get to that perfect. Just get a percent better everyday.”
2023 Ralphy Velazquez
Ralphy does it again. He has made it so obvious that he is the best hitter in the country ✍🏼 pic.twitter.com/CVCFSckj6Y
— Train More Play Less (@tmplstandards) April 28, 2023
Working hard off the field has become a constant in Velazquez’s life who says he aims to “dominate” behind a seven-days-a-week routine. With some dreaming of getting a chance to play college baseball, Velazquez’s goal has always been past that. His eyes have been set on the MLB.
“That’s been my motivation since I was little,” Velazquez said of the upcoming MLB draft. “That’s been my motivation since I started playing the game. I’ve always thought about that.
“For me, if I go the college route or go out of high school, the big leagues are going to be a stepping stone for me. My main goal is to be a Hall of Famer and I’ve been thinking of that since I was a little kid and I feel like I’m going to be able to put up those numbers when I get there.”
Velazquez has become one of the top players for the upcoming MLB draft and is currently ranked as the No. 28 prospect according to MLB.com. Following an impressive senior campaign that helped the Oilers to a 21-9 record in 2023, the California native has vaulted himself into the first- and second-round conversation. Even though the high school year came with an earlier end in the playoffs than he and his team had hoped for, the year gave Velazquez a lot he could learn from.
“I loved playing with my brothers,” Velazquez said. “I don’t even call them teammates anymore, they’re family. The coaching staff has done such a great job for me. We’ve had such a great run. This was one of the first times I’ve had this much fun playing baseball with a team. I know it didn’t end up the way we wanted it to, we wanted to make it further, but stuff happens and I had a fun ride.”
Velazquez, who is currently committed to Arizona State, will likely have a decision ahead of him with the 2023 MLB Draft as he works out his upcoming future. The Huntington Beach senior announced his commitment to the Sun Devils’ program back in November and could still decide to go with the collegiate route.
“I’ve always loved Arizona,” Velazquez said. “I’ve been going up there since I was a little kid and the ball flies at ASU. I played up there since I was a little kid and I love the coaching staff. They trust their players, they trust their recruits and I liked everything they had to say. It was a pretty easy decision.”
With a little over a week passed since the closing of his high school career, Velazquez is ready to begin his offseason work on the field. About a month out from the MLB combine in Arizona, the star catcher is set to resume his usual baseball activities, just this time without summer ball. With his focus on the July event, Velazquez knows just how close he is to finally reaching his longtime goal.
“Surreal,” Velazquez said of what a selection would mean. “If, or when, I hear my name called, everything paid off. All the blood, sweat, and tears paid off and if that happens, or when that happens, it’s go time and I’m ready to get there.”