Chi Chi Gonzalez Scouting Report: Chi Chi Gonzalez ranked #5 on the LSB Community Prospect Rankings.
In the days leading up to Opening Day, I'm going to offer write-ups on the 30 players who made the Rangers' LSB Community Prospect Rankings Top 32 (and who weren't traded). I've done this the last couple of years, and I don't want to re-invent the wheel, so some of this will be a repeat of what I've written before, particularly regarding draft history or performance pre-2014. Also, this is not based on my personal observations -- I'm not a scout, and haven't seen most of these guys. I'm just aggregating the numbers and what others say about these players.
So, with that out of the way, let's take a look at Chi Chi Gonzalez...
Alex "Chi Chi" Gonzalez was the Rangers' first round draft choice in 2013, a 6'2", 195 lb. righthanded pitcher out of Oral Roberts University. Baseball America ranked Gonzalez as the #19 prospect in the 2013 draft.
Gonzalez signed quickly and was assigned to Spokane in the Northwest League. He struggled early, giving up 15 runs in his first 13 pro innings, spread over six games, but then settled down and allowed just 1 run over his final 10.1 IP before being promoted to high-A Myrtle Beach. Gonzalez appeared in five games for the Pelicans, once again having some bumps early, allowing 7 runs over 7 innings in his first two games, then allowing just a single run over 12 innings in his final three outings. Overall, Gonzalez had a 3.80 ERA in his first pro season, striking out 35 and walking 16 in 42.2 innings.
Gonzalez didn't make the top 100 lists for Keith Law or MLB.com, but he did come in at #70 on the Baseball Prospectus list. On the various Ranger top 10 lists, Gonzalez was 6th in the Baseball America list, 3rd on Keith Law's list, and 3rd on the BP list.
While I thought Gonzalez might start the 2014 season in AA Frisco, he went to Myrtle Beach to begin the year, and performed quite well there, putting up a 2.63 ERA in 65 innings, with 49 Ks against 16 walks and 3 homers allowed. He moved up to Frisco in early June and continued to have success, with a 2.71 ERA in 73 IP, 64 Ks, 25 walks, and 3 HRs allowed.
Like Jake Thompson, Chi Chi was generally in the 2-5 range in most Rangers top 10 lists this offseason. Baseball American had Chi Chi 10th in their Carolina League top 20 prospect list, and 5th on their Texas League top 20 list. Keith Law put Gonzalez at #86 on his top 100 prospect list.
Gonzalez's repertoire consists of a low-90s fastball with cutting action, a slider, and a changeup, though he also mixes in a curveball. He's not a huge ceiling guy, but he's a strike thrower who has a starter's repertoire and is seen as a potential #3 starter. His biggest issue right now is refining his command, as he sometimes has so much movement on his pitches that he doesn't always know where they are going.
Jon Daniels has said that he sees Gonzalez starting the 2015 season in AAA, although he's reportedly going to get a chance to compete for a job in the Opening Day rotation this spring. Him cracking the rotation to start the season is probably a longshot, but its clear that he's someone the organization likes a lot, and he's knocking on the major league door. Expect to see him in the majors at some point in 2015, with an inside track on being in the Opening Day rotation in 2016.