NICK GONZALES, SECOND BASEMAN
|Born: May 27, 1999
Height: 5′ 10″
Drafted: 1st Round, 7th Overall, 2020
How Acquired: Draft
College: New Mexico State University
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|After going undrafted out of high school, Gonzales became one of the best hitters in college ball at New Mexico State. He put up playstation numbers, with an OPS of 1.021 as a freshman and a line of 432/532/773 in a sophomore year in which he led the nation in batting. He hit 448/610/1155 in a truncated junior year. The numbers, especially the power, were certainly influenced by a high-offense environment. Gonzales did, however, hit 351/451/630 with seven home runs in the Cape Cod League in 2019, earning himself MVP honors and being named the league’s top prospect by Baseball America. BA also rated him the fifth best prospect in the draft, which is about where most other prospect authorities ranked him.
As a pro, Gonzales probably profiles as a line-drive hitter with excellent plate discipline — he had 66 walks and 40 strikeouts in his last season-and-a-fraction in college — and hopefully moderate power. One source of doubt on the latter point is that his exit velocity hasn’t been exceptional. Gonzales’ speed is above-average. He probably has the arm strength for short, but many scouts question whether he has the quickness for the position, although the Pirates will probably start off with him there. Gonzales signed for exactly the slot amount. Since he appears to be very advanced as a hitter, he should have a good chance of reaching the majors quickly.
Gonzales was at the Pirates’ alternate training site at Altoona.
The Pirates sent Gonzales to Greensboro, which was a little disappointing. He ended up having a season of extremes. He got off to a hot start, but went out after 13 games with a fractured finger. He returned in late June, homered in his first two games, then went into a slump that included an alarming amount of swing-and-miss. He had just a .724 OPS in July, with a 32% strikeout rate. In August, though, he got blistering hot, with ten home runs, including five, along with 15 RBIs, in the last two games of the month. Gonzales posted an OPS of 1.176 in July and .930 in August. By his own account, the hand bothered him for some time after the injury, so it almost certainly played a major role in the slump. The other extreme in Gonzales’ season was his home/road split, due to the extreme home run park in Greensboro. He had 13 home runs and an OPS of 1.094 at home, five and .804 on the road. During the period when he was slumping, though, 18 of his 29 games were on the road, so that may account for part of the split. He had a moderate platoon split, with an OPS of 1.041 against LHPs and .918 against RHPs. Gonzales played only once at short; with Oneil Cruz and Liover Peguero also around, he seems to be a second baseman now. He showed solid range there in 2021 and committed only five errors.
Gonzales had another unsettling season, this time at Altoona. He had OPS figures of .748 and .738 in April and May, respectively, with a K rate of 33%. At the end of May, Gonzales went on the injured list with an ailment that the Pirates initially decided was minor. Instead, it turned out to be a plantar injury that kept him out nearly half the season. After he returned in August, Gonzales finally started to hit, posting OPS figures of .862 and .981 the last two months. His K rate dropped to 23%. Gonzales had a big platoon split, with a 1.031 OPS against LHPs and a .760 OPS against RHPs. On defense, Gonzalez was solid; he spent the bulk of his time at second but also started a dozen games at short.
Gonzales should be in AAA to start 2023. If he could avoid lengthy slumps or significant injuries, he could reach Pittsburgh at some point.
|2023: Minor league contract
|Signing Bonus: $5,432,400
MiLB Debut: 2021
MiLB FA Eligible: 2026
MLB FA Eligible:
Rule 5 Eligible: 2023
Added to 40-Man:
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
|June 10, 2020: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1st round, 7th overall pick; signed on June 24.|