A lot of Detroit Tigers fans on social media are asking about Yariel Gonzalez, the Toledo Mud Hens infielder. Even Lynn Henning on Sunday ($) wrote about him in the Detroit News and a player to keep on an eye on and if you have read Henning long enough, those words could mean something.
For Detroit Tigers fans who are looking for the next player for the farm system to come up and provide a spark to the offense, Yariel Gonzalez is a name based on reading the box scores or our respective Tigers Minor League Report.
So who is Yariel Gonzalez outside of the fact the Detroit Tigers signed him as a minor league free agent this past off-season? Let’s take a look at this infielder, who had a 16-game hitting streak.
Yariel Gonzalez’s Profile:
He is 27 years old and stands at 6’1 and is a switch-hitter. He has played third base and second base in Erie and Toledo this season but can play first. Gonzalez first was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2016 by the St Louis Cardinals.
He was born in San Sebastian, Puerto Rico, and played his college ball for a school in the NAIA called the University of Science and Arts in Chickasha, Oklahoma. An interesting stat about his days in college was that he hit over .400 three times.
I spoke to Kyle Reis, who does the prospect work over at Birdsontheblack.com, a St.Louis Cardinals blog site, and here’s what he said about Gonzalez.
"“Well, I hate that he isn’t in the org. He was a borderline D35 guy, and one of my personal favorites. He’ll play all over the Diamond and hold his own. lol love that he punished the Cardinals this week for that very reason lol Talking to some people, he’s a great teammate. He’s hit at every level and he did everything that the Cardinals organization asked him to. He’s worked his tail off to get where he is, too”."
So far this season, he has hit .356/.397/.671 with seven home runs and an OPS of 1.069. He has a walk rate of 6% and a K rate of 11% As far as power goes, his ISO in Triple-A is .338 but as you may or may not know, Triple-A power numbers since 2019 cast a different set of circumstances to look at. It is really hard to tell despite the seven home runs, the balls being used, pitchers still getting back into the swing of things, or something else, which I revisit shortly.
He’s sixth among Triple-A and Double-A players in wRC+ at 196 (SeaWolves outfielder Jacob Robson leads the pack with a 236).
So, what looks different than his time with the Cardinals two seasons ago to now? Let’s take a look at his swing mechanics from my amateur scouting perspective.
This is his swing at Memphis in 2019. Notice his feet in the batter’s box. He has a slightly open stance and keeps his outer leg away then lifts it up and on his swing follow-through, he is slightly off-balance.
Now, let’s look at his swing on the same side of the plate from two weeks ago down in Toledo. I want you to pay attention to the same leg. Less of a leg kick, its more of a slight left of the leg versus before, which allows him to clear his hips more to swing (from my amateur point of view)
Whether those swing changes that look pretty clear to the naked eye has resulted in a different approach for Yariel at the plate, it appears the Tigers are the ones who are benefitted. Now the next question is, can these numbers in Triple-A translate on a major league level? We shall see.