YOEL GONZALEZ, CATCHER
|Born: August 1, 1996
Signed: Int’l Free Agent, 2012, Pittsburgh Pirates
How Acquired: International Free Agent
Country: Dominican Republic
WTM’S PLAYER PROFILE
|Gonzalez is a catcher with good defensive potential whose bat is probably a little more suspect. Although he turned 16 the day he signed, he’d already shown good receiving and throwing skills.
In his debut season, Gonzalez struggled at the plate, although his K rate wasn’t alarming. He had some problems with passed balls, committing 14, but he had only two errors. Catchers’ stolen base numbers aren’t available for the DSL.
Gonzalez wasn’t in camp in March 2014, but he impressed the Pirates enough in spring training in the Dominican that they brought him to the GCL for the season. He was the primary catcher there. Gonzalez made just a little progress with the bat. In fact, he was hitting decently, with a .670 OPS in July, but slumped to a .478 OPS in August. He threw out 21% of base stealers, although it’s hard to judge catchers’ throwing at that level due to the inexperience of the pitchers.
The Pirates sent Gonzalez back to the GCL and he had a very rough season at the plate. His season was pretty much wrecked by a stretch of 32 at-bats without a hit that ran from early July into early August. On the plus side, he had a good walk rate and seldom struck out. He showed good receiving skills and threw out 35% of opposing base stealers.
The Pirates moved Gonzalez up to Bristol, where he shared catching duties with Brent Gibbs until Gibbs got hurt, and then with Deybi Garcia. Gonzalez showed no signs of progress with the bat; in fact, his K rate climbed sharply. He continued to show a good arm, with a 34% CS rate.
Gonzalez opened the season at Morgantown. After he’d played in 11 games, though, he moved up to West Virginia and stayed there, as the two catchers for the Power, Arden Pabst and Brent Gibbs, had injury issues. He didn’t end up with a great deal of playing time, but when he played he suddenly started hitting the ball with a lot more authority, including good power at West Virginia. This was accompanied, though, by the near-disappearance of his walk rate and a continued high K rate. Between the two levels he threw out 32% of base stealers.
The Pirates handled Gonzalez more like a lower-level organizational catcher than a prospect, but his improved hitting in 2017 might revive his (limited) prospect status. He wasn’t, however, on any of the full-season rosters at the start of 2018.
|2018: Minor League Contract|
|Signing Bonus: $350,000
MiLB Debut: 2013
MLB Debut: N/A
MiLB FA Eligible: 2019
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: 2017
Added to 40-Man: N/A
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
|August 1, 2012: Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an international free agent.