Velasquez 'excited' by big league debut

Velasquez 'excited' by big league debut

CHICAGO -- Vincent Velasquez gave the Astros something to build on Wednesday.

Velasquez threw five scoreless innings in his first Major League start, allowing three hits and four walks and striking out five batters in the Astros' 4-1 loss to the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. The loss was Houston's seventh in a row.

"I was really excited going into the game," Velasquez said. "I felt really motivated. You know on everyone's debut they're always nervous, but I was actually really excited. I was really looking forward to it. I was really relaxed and settled in just fine."

Velasquez, 23, is the second rookie pitcher to join the Astros' rotation in the last few weeks, joining 21-year-old Lance McCullers Jr. Neither one had pitched above Double-A prior to throwing in the big leagues, but both have been effective.

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Velasquez allowed the leadoff hitter to reach in four of his five innings, including walks in the second, fourth and fifth. Nothing seemed to faze him, though.

"I thought he did a really good job battling through," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "They made him make a lot of pitches, but he's got to be proud of that first start. I thought he left the game in a good position, and battled his way through. I thought he showed a good fastball. His breaking ball was a little bit better than I expected, and then [he showed] some feel for a [changeup]. So first outing out, to go five scoreless, battled out some innings, but also controlled the run game, he and [catcher Jason Castro]."

Velasquez's Dad thrilled for son

Castro threw out two of the runners who led off the innings with walks, which helped boost Velasquez.

"I struggled with [getting ahead] a little bit and lacked a little bit of consistency, and I've just got to work on it," Velasquez said. "This game will change, and I have to prepare myself in the next [bullpen session] and put it toward the next outing."

Velasquez, the club's No. 4 prospect, per MLB.com, and a second-round Draft pick in 2010, missed the first month of this season after suffering a strained right lat on Nov. 4 while playing in the Arizona Fall League. He missed two months last season with a strained groin, and all of the 2011 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. When healthy, he had a nice 2014 at Class A Advanced Lancaster, going 7-4 with a 3.74 ERA in 15 games (10 starts), and was 3-0 with a 1.37 ERA in five starts for Double-A Corpus Christi this season.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.