No. 07: Red Sox starting pitching prospect Wikelman Gonzalez
Wikelman Gonzalez had about as bad of a first month as you could have. In his first four starts, Gonzalez only tossed 8 2/3 innings. He had a 15.58 ERA, .294 BAA, and 3.00 WHIP in those 8 2/3 innings. Even worse, Gonzalez had a solid 14 strikeouts but a devastating 16 walks. Nearly two times as many walks as innings pitched.
The rest of his season was utter nails, though. Gonzalez was so lights out he was promoted to Double-A halfway through the year.
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.
The walks seem high, but it's hard to complain after such a rough start to the year.
Gonzalez has a fun four-pitch mix to work with.
His fastball works in the mid-90s with plenty of movement. Sometimes, he can't find control, but Gonzalez tends to have more issues with nibbling instead of getting too wild. He isn't afraid to attack hitters.
Gonzalez has a changeup that looks like his fastball out of his hand. The arm movement is very similar. However, his changeup sits in the mid-80s with a late dip. He doesn't always have command of it, which sometimes leads to what is essentially a slower fastball.
He has a slider that is similar to his curveball but not as good. Gonzalez doesn't seem to have as much control over it, and it sits in the mid-80s.
Finally, there's the curveball. Last year, I said this was probably his worst pitch (although I said it was still good). I was a fool. It's his best pitch. The curveball breaks something filthy and works in the mid-to-high-70s. It gets hitters flailing a lot, and he has the command to drop it in for a strike when he wants, as well.
Imaginary bonus points for Hunter Dobbins telling me that Wikelman Gonzalez has the best curveball he's ever seen.
Wikelman Gonzalez took all the strides you'd want to see this season. The start of the year hurt his overall numbers, but it was great to see him work out of the struggles and improve. He's a potential top-of-the-rotation arm who racks up the strikeouts (but might have some games where the walks get to him).