Derian Gonzalez (Brian Walton / The Cardinal Nation)

21-year-old right-hander Derian Gonzalez was one of three promising young starters who concluded the season with Palm Beach.

The Cardinal Nation’s top 50 prospect countdown for 2017 continues at #33 with a right-hander who jumped from the Gulf Coast League to Peoria, then was promoted to Palm Beach late in the season. Details for TCN members.

2016 rank Pos. DOB Signed Round
NR RHS 01 31 95 2012 IFA

Selected 2016 stats

PB 1 2 1.46 2.64 4 4 0 24.2 16 9 0 11 24 0.182 0.78 0.250
Peo 5 0 2.39 3.10 15 15 0 75.1 65 24 1 33 70 0.236 1.69 0.308
Tot 6 2 2.16   19 19 0 100 81 33 1 44 94 0.223 1.38  

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (30): During the community vote, Derian Gonzalez began receiving votes from Cardinal27 as early as #15. He ended up as the 30th highest rated player.

SoonerinNC was also high on Gonzalez, noting that he could be a real sleeper and was promoted from Peoria in mid-season. Cardinals27 believes Gonzalez is more polished than Sandy Alcantara and Junior Fernandez. He also thinks that Gonzalez could end up with a cup of coffee in Memphis this year. BobReed really likes Gonzalez as well especially the two home runs allowed in 250 career innings. Cardinals27 believes Gonzalez is the fifth best pitching prospect in the entire organization. – Jeremy Byrd


Derek Shore (31): Often overshadowed by flamethrowers Sandy Alcantara and Junior Fernandez, the Venezuelan right-hander Gonzalez reunited with those two at Low-A Peoria to start 2016 in one of Minor League Baseball's most talented rotations and finished with them at High-A Palm Beach.

Gonzalez, 21, posted a perfect 5-0 record with 2.39 ERA through 15 starts in the Midwest League after making the jump from the Gulf Coast League in 2015. The 6-foot-3 right-hander punched out 70 batters against 33 walks in 75 1/3 innings for the Chiefs, putting together a 0.49 ERA in his final 18 1/3 innings to prove he was polished enough to take on the Florida State League.

All Gonzalez did there was compile a 1.46 ERA through four starts (24 2/3 innings).

"He's got a plus fastball and a plus breaking pitch, in my opinion," said Peoria Chiefs pitching coach Dernier Orozco. "The fastball cuts at times, but mostly cuts, so it's tough for the hitter just to make a good swing on that fastball. Even the catcher says he's not able to catch it sometimes just because it cuts so much.

"When that breaking pitch is on, it's tough to hit him. He was working a little bit more with the command of pitches and to get stronger with control. He's a young kid for the first time in his first full season, and he struggled a bit at the beginning. Then he made a push as the season went and pitched above the level."

While Gonzalez has more movement on his fastball, Orozco said Alcantara is the best of the three with his fastball averaging 97-98 mph. The former is a more refined and has better control and command on the mound. Though, the pitching coach said Fernandez and Alcantara have better projectability because Gonzalez is older.

According to MWL observers, Gonzalez's delivery, a sort of crossfire action that prevents him from getting over his front hip consistently, isn't the smoothest and his future could be as a potential reliever. He throws from a high three-quarters arm slot and utilizes his sturdy frame, lower half to generate above-average velocity at 90-93 mph, topping out at 95 which is said to lack life.

Gonzalez spots his stuff from a downhill plane thanks to the high arm slot and can throw to both sides of the plate as well. He induces weak contact off that four-seamer and also throws an 87-88 mph two-seamer with minimal arm-side action, a developing pitch for him.

As mentioned, the right-hander’s best offering is a curveball with bite and solid break. It is a pitch he throws in the zone for strikes and can bounce for a strikeout, a plus pitch. He will also flash an occasional changeup that was said to be a below-average pitch last summer, lacking arm speed and fade to sell the deceptiveness. It graded as an average future pitch in his first season stateside in 2015.

All that said, Gonzalez has the frame, stuff, and pitchability to be a starter every fifth day with the mechanics being the deciding factor for his future role. I see him opening up 2017 with High-A Palm Beach with a shot at Double-A Springfield.


Brian Walton (40): Though my number 40 placement of Gonzalez might seem to suggest that I am not all that high on the youngster, it would be incorrect. Perhaps I am guilty of watching him in the same setting and through the same lens as Alcantara and Fernandez, who, as already noted, are roughly on the same step of the developmental ladder.

He just has a lot of very good competition. It took Gonzalez four years of play to crack our top prospect list with this his debut after signing in September 2012.

On the positive side, Gonzalez delivered the fourth-lowest ERA in the system among all starters in 2016. He earned a Midwest League mid-season all-star berth, but ended up sitting out an entire month – from mid-June until mid-July – even before appearing in the mid-summer game.

Seven of his 20 Peoria runs allowed scored during his final two outings before he had to leave his start due to his shoulder injury. Take out that stretch when his health could have been compromised and his Chiefs ERA would have been just 1.97 over a dozen outings.

Apparently because of the injury and time lost, Gonzalez was not promoted to Palm Beach until mid-August. Fernandez had been first, moving up in early July, followed by Alcantara at the end of that month. His shoulder problem did not seem to linger as other than an increase in walks, his four-start Florida State League introduction to close the season was seamless.

When I have seen Gonzalez, I was neither wowed by his velocity nor his control. The right-hander’s fastball was in the 91-94 mph range with a very good curve at 77-79. That pales in comparison to Fernandez and Alcantara, who can touch triple digits. Of particular concern to me was his 2016 walk rate of 4.0 per nine innings, which was second-highest among the system’s top 20 ERA starting pitchers.

Given that Gonzalez had just those four starts with Palm Beach to close the season and the number of other good rotation competitors as the pyramid narrows, his return to the Florida State League to open 2017 seems most likely. There is much more work to be done, but the potential is clearly there.

Insiders tip: His first name is pronounced, “DEER-ee-in”.

TCN Scouting Grade: 5, Risk: High (click here to review scales)


Our 2017 top 50 series continues

To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects and remaining article schedule, click here. This includes the top 50 countdown and nine in-depth, follow-up articles. Most of them are exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation. Thank you for being a member!

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