Gonzalez An Instant Top Prospect For Phils

Technically, Giovany Gonzalez isn't the final piece of the puzzle in the trade between the Phillies and White Sox. Unknown technicalities are keeping Gonzalez as "the player to be named later" although everybody figures he's the guy coming to the Phillies. When Gonzalez is officially named, he could head very close to the top of the Phillies prospect rankings.

Whenever you can get two young left-handers as part of a trade, it's a good thing. With Dan Haigwood and Giovany Gonzalez, the Phillies did exactly that in dealing Jim Thome to the White Sox.

While Haigwood has been somewhat unheralded, Gonzalez has gotten pretty much press and recognition in his young career. A good chunk of that comes from being a supplemental first round draft pick in the 2004 Draft and the rest comes from his performance so far.

Coming out of Monsignor Pace High School near Miami, Gonzalez was pretty well advanced for a high school pitcher. He already shows strong poise and a tough attitude on the mound, which will serve him well. Like Haigwood, one of the things that the Phillies were drawn to was his ability to keep the ball in the park. In his first two seasons, Gonzalez has surrendered just nine homeruns in 187 2/3 innings of work. Those numbers translate well to Citizens Bank Park.

Gonzalez is known for a curveball that some scouts believe is already good enough to get major league hitters out. He compliments that with an above average change-up and a fastball that generally sits in the low 90s. Like Haigwood, Gonzalez isn't really a fireballer, but uses his pitches to compliment each other and keep hitters off pace. When he needs to, he can ramp up a couple more miles per hour on the fastball and blow it by some hitters, but will rely mainly on mixing his pitches and throwing strikes. His strikeout to walk ratio is impressive at 226 strikeouts to 68 walks. As Gonzalez moved up the ladder in the Sox system, his walks didn't increase as the hitters became better and more patient. He has walked one hitter per 2.75 innings of work in his minor league career.

The only minor blip of concern is that Gonzalez is definitely on the small side - 5' 11", 175 pounds - and he suffered through some back and shoulder problems in 2005, but appears healthy with no lingering effects. One possible reason for the hold-up in announcing Gonzalez as the final player in the deal is that the Phillies may want to investigate the injuries a little further, although all reports are that there are no injury concerns with the 20 year old left-hander. Still, being on the small side makes you wonder about potential durability issues as he approaches the major league level.

With a strong showing at High-A Winston-Salem in 2005, the Phillies will likely start Gonzalez at AA Reading in 2006. The potential for lefties Gonzalez, Haigwood and Cole Hamels to all grace the Reading rotation at the start of the season is something that has to have the folks in Reading salivating over. All three could move pretty quickly if healthy though, so fans in Reading shouldn't get too comfortable in seeing them all there together for too long.

Giovany Gonzalez' Career Stats

'04 Bristol (Rookie) 1 2 2.25 7 6 24.0 17 8 6 8 36 0
'04 Kannapolis (A) 1 1 3.03 6 6 32.2 30 13 11 13 27 1
'05 Kannapolis (A) 5 3 1.87 11 10 57.2 36 16 12 22 84 3
'05 Winston-Salem (A) 8 3 3.56 13 13 73.1 61 33 29 25 79 5
Career Total 15 9 2.78 37 35 187.2 144 70 58 68 226 9

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