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Each week, Jared Wyllys digs into his notebook and shares some info on a prospect of his choice, then passes along some select entries from our 2018 Prospect Spotlight Library and 2018 Pro Scouting Report Library. This week, we get a closer look at the Chicago White Sox High A outfielder Luis Gonzalez.
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Prospect Focus: Luis Gonzalez, OF, White Sox (High A Winston-Salem, Carolina League)
The White Sox farm system is an embarrassment of riches right now. General Manager Rick Hahn has spent the last few years snatching up prospects from seemingly every team in baseball to assemble this indulgence of young talent, and that means that some of their hottest performers can be easy to miss.
Winston-Salem center fielder Luis Gonzalez is one of those. He is usually well over a dozen spots away from the top of Chicago’s lauded list of prospects, but in a lot of other systems he would rank much higher.
Gonzalez is in his first full season of professional baseball after being drafted out of New Mexico in the third round of the 2018 MLB First-Year Player Draft. He started this season in Class A Kannapolis and moved up to High A Winston-Salem on June 21 — a well-deserved promotion, thanks to Gonzalez’ .850 OPS through his first 55 games. And the move up has not phased him; in fact, his numbers at the plate have only climbed.
Gonzalez is batting .301 and already has four home runs, two triples, and sixteen doubles over his 39 games with the Dash, spanning a little over a month in the Carolina League. A part of what is helping the young outfielder do so well is his attentiveness and desire to keep learning and growing, even as the new level presents different challenges.
“You get more offspeed [pitches] in a hitter’s count, where in Kannapolis if you were 2-0 or in a hitter’s count, you knew you would get a fastball. Here, that’s not the case,” Gonzalez told 2080 Baseball. “The pitchers are more disciplined and they’re more careful with making a mistake to you.”
Gonzalez said he has countered this in part by following the at-bats of his teammates closely to see how this new set of pitchers is approaching them. He is also learning to be more patient at the plate, he said, and be more willing to let an at-bat develop, even if it means tempering the natural aggressiveness of a young hitter. Along with that, Gonzalez said he is working on seeing the ball deeper in the zone so that he can drive hits to the opposite field more often.
Some of the results are not there quite yet, as Gonzalez’s walk rate is actually down some since his promotion, and he is pulling the ball about as often as he always has. He showed promise during his first stop in Kannapolis last season, going the other way 37 percent of the time, but that has dropped this year. But given how well he is hitting as it is, an increase in opposite field hits would only brighten Gonzalez’s future.
In college, Gonzalez showed the kind of growth as a hitter the White Sox hope to see. His freshman year, he hit .299, but then as a sophomore and junior, he hit .381 and .361, respectively. Gonzalez said he worked hard with his college coaches to improve his hitting, and it’s a process he has always enjoyed.
“Ever since I was a young hitter I’ve always been big on getting better,” Gonzalez said. He knows his bat is one of his best weapons, and he has full confidence in it. “If I’m clicking all together as a unit [at the plate], then I can put myself on base.”
Gonzalez has the right mindset, and so far the results are there. Thanks to their bevy of talented minor leaguers, the future of the White Sox looks bright. And while he has not yet garnered the attention that other prospects in the system have, Gonzalez could prove to be a big piece of that future. In the meantime, he plans to keep improving.
“I want to just set the bar high and see if I can keep getting better,” Gonzalez said. “I’m just excited to be a part of this.” –Jared Wyllys
Featured Reports: Midwest League
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- Joan Baez, RHP, Nationals (High A Potomac) – Adam McInturff
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- Ronnie Dawson, OF, Astros (High A Buies Creek) – Adam McInturff
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