DOMINGO GONZALEZ, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: September 27, 1999
Signed: Int’l Free Agent, 2018, Pittsburgh Pirates
How Acquired: International Free Agent
Country: Dominican Republic
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|The Pirates signed Gonzalez out of the Dominican when he was 18. In 2019, he was throwing 92-93 mph with a hard curve. By early 2021 he was up to 94-95.
Gonzalez pitched in relief in his debut. The numbers weren’t good, especially his walk and K rates.
The Pirates sent Gonzalez back to the DSL to open the 2019 season and he dominated there. In early July they moved him up to the Gulf Coast League and put him in the rotation. He pitched well, with very good walk and K rates, and a .211 opponents’ average. At the end of the season, Gonzalez made a very impressive start with West Virginia. He was very tough on right-handed hitters throughout, holding them to a mere .408 OPS, compared to .708 by left-handed hitters.
The Pirates sent Gonzalez to Bradenton to start the season and he pitched mostly as a starter. He mostly struggled through the end of June, but beginning at the end of June, in his last five outings with the Marauders he had a 1.08 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 25 innings. When injuries created some openings at Greensboro, the Pirates moved him up. Things didn’t go nearly as well there. A great deal of the problem was the park in Greensboro, which played as an extreme home run park in 2021. With the Grasshoppers, Gonzalez gave up 12 longballs and had an 8.53 ERA at home. On the road, he allowed no homers and had a 4.03 ERA. He continued to have trouble with left-handed hitters, allowing them a .984 OPS, compared to .750 by right-handed hitters.
The Pirates sent Gonzalez back to Greensboro to pitch in the rotation and he produced one of the more peculiar seasons in the system. In 11 starts, he had an ERA of 6.55. In 18 relief appearances it was 3.64. What’s especially odd about it is that the difference wasn’t the result of shorter outings; Gonzalez averaged only very slightly fewer innings in relief outings than he did in starts. The plus of the long relief role, of course, is that he worked up a nice innings total on the year. Once he moved permanently to relief for the season’s last three months, his ERA was 2.47. His command of the strike zone, for whatever reason, was far better in relief. He had a K/BB ratio of 1.50 as a starter and 3.59 as a reliever. He had a huge home/road split, so getting away from Greensboro should be a relief. At home he gave up an .811 opponents’ OPS and nine home runs. On the road, .654 and four. Another oddity: Gonzalez led the entire system in wins with nine, three more than anybody on the putative major league team. He finished up with one outing for Altoona.
The Pirates stuck with Gonzalez through a lot of Greensboro struggles from mid-2021 to mid-2022, and it seems to have paid off. Hopefully, Altoona will be a more hospitable environment for him. He has a good arm, so it’s not improbable that he could get pretty interesting.