Wikelman Gonzalez and a group of dominant pitchers at Portland
In 2023, the Portland Sea Dogs boasted an incredible bullpen. It was so good that it overshadowed what was a strong rotation. However, 2024 has a chance to flip the script, and it all starts with Wikelman Gonzalez.
Gonzalez started 2023 in High-A and looked lost in April. He might have been the most dominant pitcher in the system after that first month, though.
Gonzalez was promoted to Double-A in July and promptly mowed down hitters in Portland. That included being part of a combined no-hitter and flirting with another towards the end of the season.
The right-handed pitcher finished with a 3.96 ERA, .190 BAA, and 1.31 WHIP between High-A and Double-A. He struck out 168 batters compared to 70 walks in 111 1/3 innings. Gonzalez dominated with Portland, posting a 2.42 ERA.
Gonzalez already has 10 starts (48 1/3 innings) under his belt in Double-A. So, the 21-year-old (soon to be 22) will start 2024 with Portland, but don't expect him to spend all year at the level.
The good news for Portland is that Gonzalez isn't the only exciting pitcher on the roster.
Hunter Dobbins might not be there much longer, either. While he is, though, Dobbins is a workhorse who will give them plenty of quality innings.
Isaac Coffey was getting hurt by home runs last season, but that's the only time hitters were taking advantage. The righty had 155 strikeouts compared to 33 walks in 117 2/3 innings.
Angel Bastardo made three starts with the Sea Dogs at the end of the year. The right-handed pitching prospect jumped up a lot of rankings with a strong showing in High-A that featured nasty pitches and plenty of strikeouts.
Luis Perales should be in Double-A by the middle of the season. Maybe we'll even see Yordanny Monegro at some point.
Portland was bullpen heaven in 2023. The rotation could carry the load in 2024, though.