Harol Gonzalez Shows Flashes In Mets Spring Training Opener
New York Mets prospect Harol Gonzalez was given the ball to kick off the Mets first Spring Training game of the year. In his one inning of work, he retired the Miami Marlins in order. He threw seven of his 10 pitches for strikes, and he struck out Jesus Aguilar.
From what we saw and have seen of Gonzalez, this may not be the last time we see him pitch with the Mets this season.
Gonzalez, 25, has never been considered a top prospect in the Mets organization. He’s relatively diminutive at 6’0″ (if he’s that tall), and he doesn’t have over-powering stuff. He was not even looked at in Rule 5 drafts, and he returned to the Mets organization after hitting minor league free agency.
Despite all of this, Gonzalez has worked his way through the Mets organization because he knows how to pitch. It’s that ability which has not only gotten Gonzalez to Triple-A before the pandemic, but it’s also what can get him to the majors.
In 2019, Gonzalez might’ve been his most impressive. With Binghamton, he was a minor league pitcher of the week and an All-Star. This led to his promotion to Syracuse.
With Syracuse, Gonzalez pitched very well. Over seven starts and one relief appearance, he was 6-0 with a 2.68 ERA, 1.066 WHIP, 2.2 BB/9, and a 5.1 K/9. Most of these numbers were aligned with his previous minor league stats with the exception of strikeouts which were on the low side.
Back then, Gonzalez was a pitcher who didn’t have plus stuff. All of his offerings were good, and he got the most out of them because he could locate very well while also being comfortable throwing any of his four pitches any time in the count.
That led to some awkward at-bats, and it did help Gonzalez limit the batters ability to square it up against him. That alone was reason to believe he could have an impact at the Major League level.
That said, he seems to have turned a corner, and as reported by SNY‘s Jacob Resnick, Gonzalez has increased velocity:
#Mets RHP prospect Harol Gonzalez will get the start in today's spring opener.
Once a finesse guy, he's now touching 95-96 and sitting 92-94, spotting it well up in the zone. Throws a CH, slow CB, and high 80s SL.
Mets rarely bring back their MiLB FA. Big move to keep him. pic.twitter.com/w3cXrD1ft2
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) March 1, 2021
Gonzalez moving from the low 90s to the mid 90s is a game changer. That raises his ceiling, and it could be an indication the Mets may really have something with him, and we very well may see it at Citi Field in 2021.
This is like the Benjamin Button of minor leaguers. Most pitchers come in the minors with the raw stuff, and they have to learn to pitch. Gonzalez knew how to pitch, and now, his stuff is developing with his prime seasons a year or two away.
This isn’t all that unprecedented. We see this with Jacob deGrom (no, no one is comparing Gonzalez to deGrom). With increased access to better technology and better coaching as a pitcher works his way through the system, he can find that extra velocity and spin.
We may well be seeing that with Gonzalez now. We’re seeing a prospect who already knows how to pitch learn how to throw harder and better. That’s a very significant development not just for him, but also for the Mets system as a whole.
There may well be pitchers ahead of him on the depth chart, but if Gonzalez is spotting mid 90s fastballs on the corners and mixing it with good changes, curves, and sliders, he’s going to force his way to the majors.
Hopefully, we will see that happen.