Wilfredo Vélez (Cano)
- Throws Left
- Height 5' 5", Weight 170 lb.
He was in the 1986 Amateur World Series. In the 1987 Pan American Games, he excelled at 3-0, 0.86 with 34 strikeouts in 20 innings, allowing only 11 hits. He tied Cris Carpenter and Joe Slusarski for the tournament lead in wins, was third in ERA (behind Jim Abbott and Jose Ortiz) and led in strikeouts apparently. He helped Puerto Rico to a Bronze Medal. He was 1-0 with a 2.81 ERA in the 1988 Baseball World Cup, whiffing 16 in 16 innings to lead Puerto Rico in Ks.
The little lefty was on the Puerto Rican squad that placed third in the 1988 Olympics (baseball was not yet a medal event). He also helped Puerto Rico to a Bronze in the 1989 Intercontinental Cup, joining Cuban star Lázaro Valle as the All-Star pitchers for that event. He played for Puerto Rico when they won the Silver Medal in the 1990 Central American and Caribbean Games.
Vélez was 3-0 with a 3.65 ERA in the 1990 Baseball World Cup despite 7 walks in 12 1/3 IP. He led Puerto Rico in wins, strikeouts and games pitched (4) despite an ERA above the team ERA of 2.89. He tied Valle and Min-tae Jeong for second in the event in wins, one behind Chien-Fu Kuo Lee. Puerto Rico did not get a medal, falling in the Bronze Medal game to South Korea.
He next appeared in the 1991 Pan American Games, when he beat Team USA 7-1 as Puerto Rico won a Silver, finishing only behind powerhouse Cuba. He was 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA and 15 K in 13 IP for the event. He got one start in the 1992 Olympics, outdueling another Valle, Fulvio Valle, in a 2-0 win over Italy (8 IP, 4 H, 4 BB, 2 K); Jose Mateo closed it out. He tied Omar Ajete and Rolando Arrojo of Cuba for the best ERA in the event, getting one of two Puerto Rican wins (the other one went to fellow lefty veteran Jesus Feliciano Sr.).
Wilfredo struggled in the 1994 Baseball World Cup (6 H, 4 BB, 4 R in 4 2/3 IP) and was on the Puerto Rican team that won the Bronze in the 1995 Pan American Games. At age 36, he was back on the Puerto Rican squad for one more moment of glory, taking the Gold Medal at the 2002 Central American and Caribbean Games, the first Gold of his glorious career. It was Puerto Rico's second Gold in a Central American and Caribbean Games in baseball, 43 years after their first one. He was Puerto Rico's flagbearer for those Games.
In Puerto Rico's amateur league, he excelled as well from 1984-2003, all with the Yabucoa Azucareros. He was 61-11 with a 1.69 ERA and 646 K in 693 1/3 IP, winning Pitcher of the Year in 1991, 1996 and 2001 and three national titles (1994-1996). He set a record with 26 consecutive wins from 1996-2003. He later managed in Puerto Rico.