There’s a hole in the living room wall of his two-bedroom apartment in Reseda where Diego Velazquez practices kicks with his father, Salvador.
“I was swinging and confused,” Diego said.
The bat did the damage.
“He got angry with me,” said Diego. “Me and my dad rock each other.”
His dad works in construction, so the hole and other dents aren’t a big deal. He can patch them up. Sending the ball flying isn’t what matters most in the Velazquez family.
Hole in the living room wall practicing Diego Velazquez’s kick.
Diego, a 6-foot sophomore second baseman, stands in the batter’s box at Crespi High’s home baseball field. His mother, Rocio, does not have time to see him. She’s in the diner wearing an apron grilling hamburgers and turkey burgers while her two young sons, David, 8, and Damian, 5, play with a soccer ball.
“There isn’t a guy in this group who doesn’t love his cooking,” said a fellow volunteer.
The Velazquez family also includes Daniel, who played on Lake Balboa Birmingham’s City Section championship teams in 2018 and 2019.
“We are a big sports family,” said Diego. “That’s pretty much all we do.”
When Diego and David traveled to Jalisco, Mexico, to spend two weeks with family in late December, all they did was play baseball in the street.
“We got paper and tape and made our own baseball and hit it with a stick or a bat,” Diego said.
Diego, a 15-year-old with long black hair sticking out from under his hat, is truly unstoppable. He’s gained the speed and power to add muscle to his 170-pound frame this summer. He is batting .451 for the 11-3-3 Celts, who are in second place in the Mission League entering a three-game series with Sherman Oaks Notre Dame this week. He is also 3-0 on the mound, with 34 strikeouts in 32 innings.
He practices in his apartment, because that’s where the space is. Sometimes he goes to Reseda Park or throws himself in an alley. Sometimes he and his father, who played professional baseball in Mexico, will find batting cages.
Nothing will stop him from mastering a sport he has been playing since he was 5 years old.
“I think he’s really good,” Crespi coach Mike Glendenning said. “It’s just a taste of what he can do.”
Rocio Velazquez, mother of sophomore Diego Velazquez Crespi, works at the snack bar with her young son David by her side.
(Eric Sondheimer/Los Angeles Times)
Earlier this month, Diego threw 105 pitches against Chatsworth Sierra Canyon in a 3-3 tie. He got the last batter out with a 3-2 count at third.
He hit two home runs batting left. He sees batting as an exercise in patience, looking for good pitches and working his way through to the advantage.
“I stand by my approach,” he said. “I always want to fight.”
With his size, speed and versatility, Diego has established himself as one of the best young players in the talented Mission League.
Now if only he could continue to gain weight with the help of his mother’s cooking.
“I love my mother,” he said. “He always makes the best food.”
There is a caveat. Every time he’s hit a home run this season, the family has gone to dinner. Eight-year-old David is looking for more homes.
Daniel never forgets Diego the rings he has for winning City titles at Dodger Stadium.
“He shows me his ring,” said Diego.
Give Diego time. He and Crespi, one of the top Division 2 teams in the Southern Section, could have a chance to win their own this spring.