Danny Veloz’s season-long journey reaches its peak, pitching Valley’s longest start of the year.

Updated: Apr 27

Hurling 6.2 innings of three-run ball against the No. 3 ranked Glendale College, Valley’s right-hander has emerged as one of the Western State Conference’s best.

By Benjamin Royer, Sports Editor

Valley College freshman starting pitcher Danny Veloz gets ready to pitch against Bakersfield College on March 26. Veloz hurled 6.2 innings against Glendale City College on Saturday, setting a season-high in innings for any Monarchs pitcher. (The Valley Star / Griffin O'Rourke)

Valley College’s coaching staff was not surprised about freshman right-hander Danny Veloz’s performance during Saturday’s contest. In fact, coach Dave Mallas expects strong outings each time his surging starter takes the field. “He’s a true competitor,” said Mallas. “We brought him along slowly. He continued to progress and get better every single week. He’s as good as anyone in the state and he proved it Saturday.” After dropping the first two games of the penultimate regular-season series against No. 3 ranked Glendale City College, Valley turned to its trusty, newfound starting pitcher to try and pick up a weekend salvaging win. Veloz bulldozed through the Vaqueros’ prolific bats, featuring hitters Joey Craig, Hans Seo and Brandon Nguyen — all of whom held batting averages above .350 and ranked in the top 11 for the Western State Conference South prior to the game. Striking out eight batters through 6.2 innings — the most of any Valley pitcher in a game in 2022 — Veloz did not allow a run until the seventh inning and only allowed five hits during the entirety of his outing.

“Being the third starter, I get to see the lineup a little bit in the first two games, so that of course helps,” said Veloz. “I did my best to study Glendale as best as I could. I’m confident in my offspeed [pitches], so I knew if I just landed that for strikes with my fastball it would be just enough. The six scoreless [innings] — man — the energy was there. I fed off of that and it felt amazing.”

Despite allowing three runs, the Monarchs’ starter’s 6.2-inning stint allowed Valley to stay in the game, but they ultimately fell to Glendale — who extended their winning streak to an unprecedented 21 games — by a score of 6-3. The Monarch featured out of the bullpen through the first half of the campaign. He made his first seven appearances late in the game and earned three saves in the process — providing his team a route to victory. But after arm injuries to freshman starting pitchers Josh Kim and Steven Miller derailed the Monarchs’ rotation, Veloz jumped into the mix and became Valley’s most durable option going forward. Since joining the starting staff alongside freshman pitcher/outfielder Jackson Lapiner and the Monarchs’ only season-long starter in the University of Houston commit, freshman Kyle Ayers, Veloz has started five games — three of which Valley has won. In 13 games and across the 2022 season, the 5-foot-11-inch right-hander has battled Southern California’s junior college slate for a 2.93 earned-run average, 41 strikeouts, 16 walks and a team-high four wins.

Danny Veloz delivers a pitch against Bakersfield College on March 26. The righty spent the 2020 collegiate season at Long Beach State before joining Valley's pitching staff in 2021. (The Valley Star / Griffin O'Rourke)

Veloz throws a fastball that touches 90 miles-per-hour, a developing change-up and a wipeout slider that caused numerous swings and misses against Glendale — so many, that during Saturday’s affair, Vaqueros’ coaches asked the umpires to check for pine tar or spider tack on Veloz’s glove.

Both substances are used by pitchers across all levels to increase the spin rate on pitches, making the movement increase and become harder to hit. Major League Baseball has cracked down on the usage of “sticky stuff” — issuing suspensions for pitchers caught using either adhesive.

However, Veloz was using neither — a testament to his own command — as Glendale looked for reasons why he was so effective.

Dynamic pitches and statistics are just a few reasons why San Diego State and Long Beach State recruited Veloz out of high school. He attended the latter in 2020, but never appeared in a contest for the Dirtbags. After the COVID-19 pandemic shortened his freshman campaign, the talented starter left the confines of historic Blair Field and returned to the San Fernando Valley, joining the crew guided by pitching coach Josh Goossen-Brown. “Danny has been great for us all year,” said Goossen-Brown. “He started out of the bullpen and was always a guy we could count on in any situation. I knew going into Saturday’s game that he was going to give us a great performance. He’s a really tough kid… I’m proud of him.”

Cal State Northridge and numerous Division II programs have reached out to the Pacoima native about transferring for the 2023 season, but before questions about Veloz’s future are answered, the 21-year-old will pitch once more — hoping to earn the Monarchs a place in the postseason.

Slated to pitch against West LA College Friday to finish the season, the righty has a chance to extend Valley’s season and cement himself as one of the most memorable players to take the mound at Monarch Field.

“I need to do the same [as Saturday],” said Veloz. “Go out and give my team as many innings as I can.”

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