We recently covered Luis Bolivar, and he was actually taken during the same signing period as today’s profiled prospect, Gabriel Gonzalez. Gonzalez was signed for nearly twice the price of Bolivar, and the Mariners end of season 2021 prospect rankings reflect that, with Bolivar at 29 and Gonzalez at 17.
Gonzalez is a well-rounded prospect and doesn’t stand out in any particular area. This is a good reminder though that 45,50, and 55 rankings aren’t bad at all when talking about prospects. For those who forgot (or just didn’t know), here’s a good primer for knowing more about the grades.
The quick note is that a 50 ranking would be a league-average player with a 2.0 WAR. So when you see someone with 50 grades, don’t think “oh, those are low cause they’re just average”, you need to remember it’s MLB average. That’s important. A 50/50 hit/power guy projects to get you a .260 average with 15-18 HR.
Gabriel Gonzalez has an advanced game for his age, and his tools should continue to improve.
I bring this up because Gonzalez, only 18 years old, is a 50 in every category with a 55 run tool. If he can just bump up a single tool, he goes from a platoon guy to someone who deserves an everyday role in the field. He projects to play good defense in left with an arm that fits the position (not too strong, but way better than Johnny Damon) and has average to above-average speed.
It sounds like the hit tool is increasing a bit, and would likely be the one to bump up if you needed to. He had a nice season in the Dominican Summer League in 2021 across 54 games. He managed a .287/.371/.521 slash line, with 7 HR and 9 SB, and a strikeout rate of just 18.6%. Not too shabby for someone who was 17 the entire time.
For being so young, it’s a nice tease of a potential HR/SB combo to show what he is capable of. He also hit 15 2B and 4 3B meaning that out of his 54 hits, 26 of them were XBH. He’s already showing a nice hit/power combo, so if the power doesn’t come via home run, he will at least be able to slash hits into the gaps and use his decent speed to pile up doubles.
Gabriel Gonzalez is a ways away from ever appearing in the majors, likely not until 2025 at the earliest. That would still be his age-21 season, so there’s still a chance it’s not until 2026. He’s got an opportunity to be one of the more well-rounded prospects in the Mariners system, and watching whether the power or hit tool improves will affect his path through the Minors.