There have been a lot of questions about Severino Gonzalez so I thought it was time to write him up. There isn’t a lot about him or his stuff, but now that he is in the Lakewood rotation there are more reports trickling in.
The Scouting Profile:
Fastball: The reports are that it is mostly 89-91 touching as high as 92. There is not much about the movement on the pitch, but he can consistently throw it for strikes.
Curveball: By most reports his best pitch, it is a low 70s breaking ball with good break.
Changeup/Cutter: There is not much known about these pitches except that they are in his arsenal and he has enough feel to throw them in the zone.
Control: It is an elite skill, all he does is throw strikes. Over 3 seasons and 172.2 IP he has walked 12 batters (he has hit 15 batters because he does try to work inside), this gives him a BB/9 rate of 0.6 on his career.
Command: Unlike many pitchers his age Gonzalez has feel for pitch command, he can get pitches inside and can work all four pitches around the zone.
Frame: Gonzalez is listed at 6′ 1″ 153 lbs, and while there is room to add some muscle it is a narrow frame overall that raises questions of whether he can handle innings and hold velocity. Also because he is short he is not going to get natural downward plane on his pitches so you worry if he is going to home run prone.
What it Means:
There are some definite things to immediately like abut Gonzalez. The first is that he does not walk anyone, a fringy fastball can get hit hard by anyone, to limit that damage by limiting walks is big. The next thing is that he can miss bats, I am a believer that if you miss bats (not just strikeouts), then there is a place for you somewhere, even if it is a limited bullpen role.
Having a four pitch mix that he can throw for strikes is also important. If everything but the fastball moves in some way it can allow the fastball to play up some and keep hitters honest. Too often a young pitcher will be unable to throw their breaking pitches for strikes and will be reliant on their fastball to get strikes in the zone and it can lead to mistakes, which end up in the OF bleachers.
The big problem with Gonzalez is the fastball. It is fringe average for a RHP and looks at best like a 45 pitch. It is nice that he can throw it in the zone consistently but it worries me that advanced hitters will be able to sit on it, and just crush it. He is going to have to be perfect at every step along the way in order to be successful. The raw stuff is a small step above Cloyd or Julio Rodriguez, but both of them have had large struggles in the upper minors once hitters adjusted to them.
Unless the fastball velocity goes up a grade and the changeup develops into at least an above average pitch, Gonzalez’s profile is going to be limited. If the frame can hold up he could be a back of the rotation starter, but otherwise it is more the arsenal of a long man or middle reliever. That being said, if he continues to just put up video game numbers through AA and AAA he his definitely someone to really watch out for.