Jun 10, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; From left Texas Rangers second round pick Akeem Bostick and first round draft picks Alex Gonzalez and Travis Demeritte talk to the press before the game against the Cleveland Indians at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Not only did the Rangers get a quality player with their first pick in the 2013 draft in Alex Gonzalez, they also got a guy with a fantastic nickname: Chi Chi. The nickname was given to him by his grandfather, I am not sure of the background of why he recieved this nickname. What I am sure of is that Chi Chi was a great pick at 23rd in the first round.
Alex Gonzalez was drafted 23rd overall in the 2013 first year player draft out of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa Oklahoma. Standing in at 6’2″ and weighing 195 Chi Chi is not the definition of a “power pitcher.” Finesse pitcher is not an accurate depiction of his style either. Alex Gonzalez has 4 to 5 pitches depending on how you define it. His best pitch by far is his slider, which is also his cutter. It sounds more complicated than it actually is. Chi Chi describes it well in an interview with Pelicans play-by-play broadcaster Nathan Barnett. If he wants to throw the pitch for a strike and get ahead in the count, he throw it a bit harder for a cutter. If he wants to use it for an out pitch he tries to put more spin on it and takes a little off to make it a slider. His fastball stays in the low 90’s but has good sinking action. Chi Chi also mixes in an occasional curveball and has started using his changeup more effectively this year.
Spokane was where Alex Gonzalez played his first professional baseball. Though he started 9 games Chi Chi only threw 23.2 innings in those starts posting a 4.56 ERA. After 9 starts last year at short season Spokane Chi Chi earned a promotion to Advanced A Myrtle Beach where he posted a much better ERA of 2.84 in 5 starts. In the entire 2013 season he only threw 42.2 innings because of the heavy workload he had endured that year in college. The Rangers wanted to preserve his arm that year and not work him too hard for precaution against injury. Alex has no such limit this year, averaging 5 innings per start through 4 this year. He has a 3.92 ERA so far this year and has yet to earn a victory at the professional level. Pitcher record is no longer an effective tool for gauging pitchers’ abilities anymore. Especially with the current game’s emphasis on limiting pitch counts, but that is a story for another day.
When the minor league rosters were announced this year, I was absolutely shocked that Alex Gonzalez did not end up on the Frisco roster. First round college pitchers are usually pushed through farm systems much faster than other players. I would expect at some point in the season for Chi Chi to earn a promotion to AA Frisco, but I don’t have a hint on when that might come. Right now look for improvement in the area of batting average against. Batters are currently hitting .264 against him which isn’t bad but still leaves room to be desired.
Don’t look for him in the majors in 2014 unless the brass decide to speed up his development by turning him into a reliever. This is not something I anticipate happening. Depending on when he gets promoted this season, I could see Chi Chi filling in for an injury at some point in 2015 and maybe competing for a rotation slot depending on the starting pitching situation out of camp in 2015 or maybe a bullpen spot out of camp. I unfortunately have no crystal ball with which to predict the future, but I can say that Alex Chi Chi Gonzalez is a fun pitcher to watch for the time being and I would be extremely surprised if he didn’t make it to the show.
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 65 Slider: 60 Curveball: 40 Changeup: 45 Control: 50 Overall: 50
(Scouting grades via MLB.com)