Scouting Jays Prospect #43: Jesus Gonzalez

Jesus Gonzalez was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays as a nondrafted free agent on July 19, 2002 out of Mariana, Venezuela. Gonzalez spent the 2003 and 2004 season playing for the Blue Jays Dominican Summer League team, before making his debut in the United States this past season with the Pulaski Blue Jays. The third baseman has a lot of raw talent and impressed many talent evaluators over the summer with his play. FREE PREVIEW OF PREMIUM CONTENT!

Vital Statistics:
Name: Jesus Gonzalez
Position: Third Base/Shortstop
DOB: July 7, 1983
Height: 6'2
Weight: 160
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Jesus Gonzalez entered the Blue Jays system at age nineteen with a lot of hype and potential. In his first season with the club he played in the Dominican Summer League, but struggled and never got his feet off the ground. The infielder appeared in fifty-three games and batted .244 (47-193). The report on Gonzalez was that he could hit for power, but his power was non-existent. Gonzalez hit just two home runs and had four doubles on the season. Forty-one of his forty-seven hits, were singles. Above all that the right-hand batter was not patient at all during his at bats, striking out at a high rate.

The Blue Jays kept Gonzalez in the DSL when 2004 came around, but this time the results were drastically different. Gonzalez hit for average and power. In sixty-one games, he batted .338 (78-231) with seven home runs, forty-four runs batted in and thirty-eight runs scored. Of his seventy-eight hits, twenty-six went for extra-bases.

In 2005 it was time for the ultimate test for Gonzalez and that was a change of lifestyle and a move to the United States.

"You need to realize these players are changing their entire way of living now, and must adapt to our customs, along with our way of life," said Dick Scott, the Blue Jays Director of Player Development. "It really is a huge adjustment, and I am very sympathetic to that, and try to give guys ample time to try and make the adjustment.

Not only do those Latin American players have to focus on changing their lifestyle, and playing baseball, but they also are taught the language and go to school. The Blue Jays have an EAP program that they use to teach the players the English language during spring training and during extended spring training. For players that make the long season clubs, the organization finds an English teacher in every city that Toronto has a minor league team at.

"It's mandatory for the players to go to class and try to learn the language" said Scott. "As I told them many times, and they are real aware of this, the sooner they capture the language, the better their game will be."

"Not many offensive players come up their first year and make an impact."

However, Gonzalez was the exception. In his first season in the States, he hit .289 with eight home runs and posted a .511 slugging percentage. Gonzalez did get off to a slow start hitting .192 (5-26) over his first seven games, and .229 (11-48) in thirteen games during the month of July, but he found his comfort zone and ended the season on a tear. Over his last twenty-six games with Pulaski, Gonzalez hit .340 (36-106) with five home runs and twenty-one runs batted in.

Gonzalez did struggle against southpaws, as he batted just .192 (10-52) off them.

The Blue Jays promoted the infielder late in the season to give Auburn some help in their playoff drive. Gonzalez played in six games with the Doubledays and batted .267 (4-15). During his stint with Auburn, Gonzalez saw action once again at third base, the position he played in the Dominican Summer League.

Year

Team

AVG.

AB

H

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2005

Pulaski

.289

180

52

8

28

25

0

11

42

.330

.511

2005

Auburn

.267

15

4

0

0

3

0

0

1

.313

.267



Batting and Power Description: Gonzalez is an interesting player to follow for the 2006 season. His bat is his entire game and his power potential is appealing. Gonzalez began getting noticed late this season by talent evaluators, and as a result there is not a big report on the infielder, other than his bat is alive and well.

Base Running and Speed Description: Gonzalez does not possess much speed and is unlikely to steal more than five bases in a season.

Defense Description: Gonzalez played both shortstop and third base, but scouts question his defense. Many believe he will not last at shortstop above short-season baseball, and even question how good he will be at the hot corner. As one talent evaluator told us this summer ‘It would be best for the Blue Jays to stop playing him at shortstop, keep him at third, let him learn the position, and hope for the best." Talent evaluators told InsideTheDome that Gonzalez best defensive tool is his arm.

2006 Outlook: Considering he is still young and needs to work on his defense, we see Gonzalez beginning the 2006 season in extended spring training and working his way to the Doubledays roster in June of '06. The chance that Gonzalez begins with Lansing exists, but is unlikely.

ETA: It's too early in Gonzalez' career to predict when he will reach the major leagues. Our best guess is around the 2010 season.

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