The Detroit Tigers have only recently begun investing money into the international market. One of their first prizes is shortstop Alvaro Gonzalez.
The Detroit Tigers signed an international top 30 ranked prospect in each of the last two signing periods – a good indication that they are putting more emphasis on acquiring international talent.
This season’s prize was 16-year-old outfielder Jose de la Cruz, who was ranked as our midseason No. 25 prospect. He has yet to come stateside however, so there is little to go off of when evaluating him.
The same cannot be said for shortstop Alvaro Gonzalez, who came stateside for the first time this season. Although he has only played 46 games of affiliated ball, we decided to take a look at what type of player he is at this point, and who he might become down the line.
A look at Alvaro Gonzalez
Gonzalez was the 19th ranked prospect in the international market when the Detroit Tigers paid him $1 million dollars as a 16-year-old. He earned a very solid 55 grade fielding and 55 grade hit tool from MLB Pipeline, with scouts believing he has the potential to stick at shortstop long-term. In a system where many of the best infielders are unlikely to remain at short (including Isaac Paredes and Willi Castro) it’s nice to have someone down on the farm that has the potential to handle short in the future.
Hitting is the big question mark for Gonzalez. MLB Pipeline gave Gonzalez a 45-grade hit tool, but had little to say about his hitting. In 46 games with DSL Tigers1, a rookie level team, Gonzalez hit .245/.352/.362. He hit just one home run but stole eight bases and scored 19 runs. His 11.9% walk rate is excellent, and his 18.6% strikeout rate shows solid bat control and plate discipline. Of course, the pitching at that level isn’t anything special, and Gonzalez will have to show that he can draw walks and put the ball in play at higher levels if he wants to reach the big leagues.
Perhaps more concerning is Gonzalez’s 23 errors in 300 innings – which could be a sign that his hyped defense is not as good as advertised. It’s hard to say without much video of the league and his playmaking, but Gonzalez’s future depends on his ability to demonstrate above average glovework at shortstop.
Gonzalez is a long, long way away from being a big leaguer. However, international signings are a great way to stock up the farm system, especially for rebuilding teams. Gonzalez could be one of many quality pickups – only time will tell.