The Philadelphia Phillies coaching staff is set for the 2016 season, and we are presenting a series here at TBOH to introduce each of them to fans.
Each season at TBOH we introduce fans to the Phillies coaching staff. Here in 2016, Tyler DiSalle and I will take a look at each of the 11 coaches on this year’s staff in a series that will run a couple of times every week all throughout spring training.
Before taking on that role as an assistant coach in the Phillies organization, Velandia was a journeyman utility infielder. The now 41-year-old took the field with six teams during his eight year playing career that ended in 2009. Those teams included the San Diego Padres, Oakland Athletics, New York Mets, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, and Cleveland Indians.
There was a reason Velandia did so much transitioning during his career. As a player, Velandia ended with a cumulative career slash line of just .189/.274/.270 that came with just two home runs and 23 RBI. One of those home runs, however, was a grand slam back in 2007.
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While he didn’t accomplish much during his playing days, he impressed the Phillies brass enough as a communicator to land a job coaching in the organization once those playing days had ended.
Velandia has embraced his coaching role with the Phillies. Much as in his role as a player, Velandia has worn many hats as coach. He got his first gig with the club as an assistant with the Class-A Williamsport Crosscutters in 2010. Then in 2012, Velandia served as an assistant field coordinator, and in 2013 he became a special assistant for player development.
Following Ryne Sandberg’s resignation as the Phillies’ manager last June, Velandia’s success as a minor league coach led to a big league promotion when then-general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. extended an offer to Velandia to join Pete Mackanin’s coaching staff.
“I look at this like I’m getting called up,” Velandia said in an interview with Meghan Montemurro with The News Journal at Delaware Online. “Baseball players or people who’ve played before, you get used to being in a place one day and then another. You just have to do your job. This is different, because at least I don’t have to go play. All the knowledge I gained when I played now I get to utilize it and teach these young guys what it is that they need to do.“
Despite entering his forties, Velandia has been able to relate well to the Phillies’ young crop of players. Last season, Velandia explained that many players viewed him as an “older brother” and appreciated his “constructive criticism” in regards to offense, defense and base running.
Mackanin and Velandia have a long relationship stretching back to their days coaching in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. “Whatever suits us, we’re going to ask him to help out,” Mackanin said. “He’s bilingual. He’s got a great rapport with a lot of these young players and with some of the older players as well.”
Velandia also has some front office experience. He has served as the general manager in the Venezuelan Winter League with Tiburones de La Guaira, which this past winter counted one of the Phils’ top prospects, catcher Jorge Alfaro, among their players.
Heading into 2016, Velandia will need to be like a big brother to a lot of new faces in order to help this new generation of Phillies youngsters grow as players and people as the club’s rebuilding program pushes forward.