Photo credit: Zachary Lucy

Oscar Gonzalez: A Man Among Young Men

Oscar Gonzalez burst onto the prospect scene last season in Arizona, and the IBI's Mark Nikolov provides an update on how he is doing along with some of the hype surrounding him going into the 2017 season...

Oscar Gonzalez started playing baseball at the age of five in the Dominican Republic.  At sixteen he was signed by the Indians for $300,000.

Life is good for this young man.  He just celebrated his 19th birthday and he’s ready to play at the next level of the minors.  Last year with the rookie level Arizona Indians he hit .303 with 8 HR, 26 RBI and .907 OPS in 40 games, and was named MVP of the Arizona League and recently was named to the Indians top 30 prospect list by MLB Pipeline.

I get the feeling that there will be many more accolades and achievements to come for Oscar.

After having signed with the Tribe in 2014, Ben Badler of Baseball America had this to say about Oscar: “At 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, Gonzalez stands out for his arm strength and right-handed power potential and will be a right fielder. He trained with Wason Brazoban, a Dominican singer who’s pop song “En Un Solo Dia” peaked at No. 47 on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart.”

Sam Robinson of Knuckleball also praised Oscar in an article he wrote this past August:

“Gonzalez collected 44 hits in 40 games and hit .303/.342/.566 for the Arizona Indians in the early-stage developmental league," he said. “Gonzalez doubled his home run total from last season despite accumulating 123 fewer plate appearances. In 155 in 2016, Gonzalez blasted eight home runs and added 12 more extra-base hits (10 doubles) to his resume.”

I recently spoke with Oscar and he told me the he hasn’t taken much of a break from baseball since August.  He did have minor surgery on his wrist following the season but he has made a successful recovery.  He’s already in Arizona, training and preparing for Major League camp.

Oscar has strong family ties and he is deeply religious.  He comes from a family of six brothers and sisters.  He has fond childhood memories of time spent with his family in San Cristobal.  One special moment that he shared with me was his signing day in July 2014.

“It was a very special day that I was able to share with my family,” he said.  “I give thanks to God and to the Cleveland Indians for giving me the opportunity to play professional baseball in my home country and in the US.”

I expect that he will start off the season with Short-A Mahoning Valley.  Though with all the hard work he’s been putting in, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a shot to go to Low-A from Lake County at some point during the year.

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