SDI Prospect Rankings: #4 Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez
As the SDI prospect countdown rolls on, #4 on the list is the premier pitching prospect in the Texas Rangers system. Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez, the 23rd overall pick of the 2013 draft, is a near consensus top-50 MLB prospect, and has been ranked as high as the #2 prospect in the Texas system by Baseball Prospectus. Gonzalez sports a fastball, slider, change and curve on the mound, three of whichhave a chance to be above average or better. An exciting young player, Chi-Chi could debut sometime in 2015.The Oral Roberts product hails from Boca Raton, Florida, where he led his high school team to a district championship with a sub 1.50 ERA his junior season. Standing at 6’3”, 200 pounds, Gonzalez possesses the frame to hold up through a 30+ start season. Before the Rangers nabbed him in the 2013 amateur draft, Chi Chi had been selected in the 11th round by the Baltimore Orioles in 2010, but opted to attend college in lieu of signing.
Mechanically, the righthander is very sound. Gonzalez is deliberate as he slowly rocks back, hands chest high, leg raising to his lower chest area. As he starts toward the plate, Chi Chi straightens his leg out in the general direction of the third base dugout before bringing it towards the plate. Upon plant, Gonzalez is able to speed up his motion and power through with his hipsthen shoulders allowing him to generate the necessary torque on his ¾ release for his low tomid-90s fastball. The 23-year-old stays under control throughout his delivery and leaves himself in good position to jump quickly onbunts or ground balls.Gonzalez throws three different types of fastballs – a two-seamer, a cutter, and a sinker – all very effective pitches with each sitting at 92-95. The highest velo the highly regarded prospect reached in his time in Frisco was 97. The best of the three is his cutter, which has enough movement to pass as a poor slider to someone unfamiliar with Chi Chi’s repertoire. With a hard dart right in front of the plate, the pitch will be devastating to lefties and effective against same-sided hitters. The two-seam fastball moves in the opposite direction and also sports late hard movement, though not quite to the extreme of the cut fastball. The sinker has been a very effective ground ball pitch. While the pitch doesn’t necessarily show a large amount of movement, the drop it does have is very late, giving the hitter next to no time to adjust. Gonzalez is in general a groundball pitcher, and his three fastballs are a big reason why. All three look identical until they are on the plate, keeping hitters off-balance and unsure of what to expect. His fastball is a legit 60+ group of offerings. Here is a breakdown of the batted ball numbers Chi Chi was able to achieve during his time in Double-A Frisco in 2014, courtesy of MLBfarm.com:
Gonzalez’ fastball is not his only plus pitch, as his slider provides him with a second out pitch. The 2014 Carolina League All-Star doesn’t miss a huge portion of bats with his top breaker, but the pitch very rarely gets barreled up. He is able to use the same arm action as his fastball and, yet again, the pitch bites very late, making it difficult for batters to pick up. Gonzalez shows an advanced ability to keep his slider low in the zone.The changeup, which is normally the last pitch to come along in a pitcher’s arsenal, is another promising pick for SDI’s #4 prospect. Sitting at 85-86 mph, the offering shows arm-side fade and is also thrown with identical arm action as Gonzalez’ fastball. With both movement and no giveaway in his throwing motion, this pitch has the potential to be above average if Gonzalez can command it at a more consistent rate. While he also throws a curveball, it is not likely to ever be more than a show-me type pitch given with it’s early and slow break.The 2015 outlook for Chi-Chi Gonzalez contains a major league debut. As most pitchers drafted in the early rounds out of college do, Gonzalez has moved through the system quickly. After receiving a major league invite for spring training, and given his success at every level he has seen thus far (2.94 career MiLB ERA), there is no reason to envision that not continuing.