It’s been a little while since I’ve gone in depth on some scouting reports on some of the Tigers minor leaguers, so I thought I would get to a few over the course of the next month as I continue to see some of these players. Mind you I am not a professional scout, just someone who has a passion for reporting on prospects, and has picked up some things along the way.
Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let’s take a look at David Gonzalez.
Gonzalez is a 19 year old switch hitting SS out of Velenzuela, who is beginning his third season with the Tigers organization. In 2011, as a 17 year old, Gonzalez hit .255 in the Venezuelan Summer League, but showed an aptitude to get on base, drawing 51 walks to 33 strikeouts. Last season, the Tigers decided to bring Gonzalez stateside where he hit .243 for the Gulf Coast League Tigers. Once again, Gonzalez showed an aptitude for getting on base, posting an OBP of .343. To start 2013, Gonzalez began in extended spring training, but got the nod early in the season to join the full season West Michigan Whitecaps. Thus far, Gonzalez is hitting .254 for the Caps, with an OBP of .360.
I found Gonzalez to be an intriguing prospect when I went to West Michigan. There are no loud tools offensively to speak of, but as a 19 year old in full season ball, Gonzalez is handling himself well. At the plate, Gonzalez is a pest. He doesn’t give away any at-bats, and works the count in hopes of setting the table for the run producers. From the left side, he looks uncomfortable and lacks bat speed. From the right side, his swing is more confident and has a bit more authority to it, making much louder contact from the right hand side. Gonzalez shows good hand eye coordination in the box, but due to his lack of physicality, there is no power there and even as he adds strength, I don’t see a ton more to come. As a runner, we are talking average running speed, but given his instincts, I could eventually see a guy who steals bags at a good rate, but not a lot of them. Physically, Gonzalez looks to have a body similar to Ramon Santiago of the Tigers with only so much room to grow. The offensive profile isn’t sexy, but he can definitely make pitchers work, and be a pest in the box who posts a strong OBP.
Defensively, the words above average potential come to mind. The arm looked plenty good enough for Gonzalez to stick at SS, and his footwork around the bag was really nice, at one point making a nice jumping throw avoiding a sliding runner. Gonzalez has made some errors, but that isn’t abnormal for shortstops at this stage of their development.
I think some patience should be exercised here with Gonzalez. I don’t think the Tigers intended to have him playing in West Michigan at this point, but he is doing a good enough job to stay there. He isn’t getting blown away in terms of striking out. He just isn’t physical enough at this point to drive the baseball. I have to say he grew on me though in my viewings, and while I am not going to project him as anything more than a utility guy at this point, I am going to track him over the next couple of years.