Top 50 Prospect Profile: Enrique Gonzalez

<p>The new year is here, and the <b> Top 50</b> is rolling&nbsp; The Top 50 features profiles, commentary, and analysis from the staff, Diamondbacks coaches and officials, as well as experts.&nbsp; Young and rising faster than the sun, <b>Enrique Gonzalez</b>, might be the best Diamondbacks you've never heard of.

Vital Statistics:

Name Enrique Gonzalez
Position Pitcher
Age 22
Height 5'10"
Weight 195
Bats Right
Throws Right
'04 Club Hi-A Lancaster JetHawks (California League)

Even though he's 22 Gonzalez is going to be entering his seventh year of pro ball in 2005, all with the D'Backs organization.  Because of his age the Diamondbacks took it slow and it has definitely paid off.  A little guy with Latin roots and a fastball that will touch 94...yeah, the Pedro Martinez comparisons come fast and furious.  Not that caliber of pitcher, but certainly one who will pitch at the major league level.  

Past and Future:  Because they got him so young the Diamondbacks have been able to give him a look in virtually every role, from starter to closer, during his time in the organization.  In 2004 with Lancaster he was used as long relief with the occasional spot start, a role he seems perfectly suited for.  Though there were initial concerns about his small body holding up to a Major League workload, those fears were put to rest after a season in which he made 42 appearances (17 of which were starts) and threw 140+ innings without any noticeable repercussions.  When he starts there appears to be little to no decline in either his location or velocity until he gets close to the 100 pitch mark.  He'll likely start '05 in Double-A Tennessee, which will be his biggest test.

'04 Clubs W-L ERA Games/Games Started IP K/BB
Hi-A Lancaster JetHawks (California League) 13-6 3.22 42/17 142.1 110/44

Pitches:  Fastball, slider, changeup and cutter.  Four pitches, three of which he throws for strikes.  He spent much of '04 tinkering with his slider, trying to figure out if he wants to throw more of a curve, it will likely end up being something of a slurve, which will balance the cutter nicely.  Changes speeds well during games and had an excellent strikeout to walk ratio.'s David Merchant has an opinion on Gonzalez's ranking, "This kid should be Top 10 easily.  He's young, but experienced, has command of three pitches, and will have command of a fourth.  He's never posted an ERA over 4.01 in his minor league career.  What's not to like, he's got perfect balance over the pitching rubber and repeats his delivery exactly, even deep into games."

ETA:  They took it slow with Gonzalez when he was young, but now that he's of legal drinking age don't expect the Diamondbacks to hit the breaks with this kid anytime soon.  If he continues his success with the Double-A Smokies in '05 he could be primed for a September call up in '05.  A great spring and he might even compete with Ramon Pena, Mike Gosling, and Brad Halsey for the fifth rotation spot to start the season.  Unless things completely fall apart for him he will have a better than legitimate shot at a regular spot has the first long relief/spot starter out of the D'Backs bullpen in '06.

DBacks Insider Top Stories