Jonathan Lucroy is gone from Texas and what was one of the most disappointing performances in Texas Rangers’ history is complete. When the deal was made it was easy to imagine the return for half a season of one of the worst players in baseball (to that point) would not amount to much. An optimist might have looked to bring back a relief prospect or pure lotto pick, but instead the Rangers received Pedro Gonzalez and that should make you happy.
Pedro Gonzalez at first glance does look awfully like a lotto pick as a toolsy 19 year old in his first full season in rookie league, but a deeper look shows an exciting profile. Gonzalez stands at 6’5” 190 pounds with a lean athletic build, long levers off of broad shoulders, and a high waist with strong muscle around the hips. Pedro’s physical projection is excellent and he has a lot of room to put on weight without slowing him down, allowing him to capitalize on more power and body control, while keeping his speed.
While the profile doesn’t immediately jump out as a future center fielder, Pedro has good quick twitch movement and is considered a plus runner. Some scouts question his reads in the outfield, but with improvement he may be able to stick in CF long term. If not, scouts like his arm and he should be able to transition to right field and be a positive defender there.
Pedro’s natural strength and quickness allow him to produce plus bat speed and with some added weight he projects to have plus raw power. His height and lever length give his swing natural loft and he produces hard line drives and fly balls consistently. In 2017 he has hit the ball in the air 53.1% of the time and has a 7.5% HR/FB, which should improve with age and added strength, according to Fangraphs.
Gonzalez has strengths and weaknesses when it comes to hitting. He has a loose athletic right handed swing and has natural feel for getting the barrel to the ball. He’s quick to the ball due to some explosiveness in wrists and doesn’t need to elongate his swing to generate pop. The swing isn’t grooved and he adjusts the barrel to pitch location well for his age.
On the other hand, scouts say that he does struggle with the pitch that a lot of tall young hitters struggle with in the high and in fastball. As that is a problem that can be worked on with time and adjustment, the more concerning problem lies in his struggles with chasing off-speed which will give him problems as he moves up in the system.
Pedro Gonzalez isn’t a perfect prospect, but the upside is evident and his path to success is surprisingly clear. It’s easy to find one’s self dreaming about another tall athletic power hitter roaming CF for the Rangers again, but it’s probably much more realistic to expect him to eventually move to right field.
His possible career paths are broad and he will die or thrive based on how well he learns to adjust against the weaknesses in his offensive skillset. His physical projection, athleticism, and his innate feel for the bat give him more hope than most and his ceiling could be something special.
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