Top Prospect #1: Giovany Gonzalez

The Phillies acquired two good left-handers in the deal that sent Jim Thome to the Chicago White Sox and Giovany Gonzalez is the better of the two. He'll start the year at AA Reading and could be ready for an audition by season's end.

Giovany Gonzalez was the guy that the Phillies most wanted in the Jim Thome trade and in fact, wound up insisting on him as part of the deal. The fact that they were able to get him and another left-hander (Daniel Haigwood) made the move that much sweeter for the Phillies.

Gonzalez comes into camp knowing that he'll start the year at AA Reading on what will be one of the best staffs in minor league baseball.

'04 Bristol (R) 1 2 2.25 0 7 6 24.0 17 8 6 0 8 36
'04 Kannapolis (Lo-A) 1 1 3.03 0 6 6 32.2 30 13 11 1 13 27
'05 Kannapolis (Lo-A) 5 3 1.87 0 11 10 57.2 36 16 12 3 22 84
'05 Winston-Salem


8 3 3.56 0 13 13 73.1 61 33 29 5 25 79
Career 15 9 2.78 0 37 35 187.2 144 70 58 9 68 226

Acquired: Traded to the Phillies along with Aaron Rowand and Daniel Haigwood for Jim Thome and cash in November, 2005. Originally drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the first round (38th overall pick) of the 2004 Draft.

Repertoire: Gonzalez' top two pitches are a good, hard fastball and an above average curveball. His fastball is in the low to mid 90s and he can pump it up a little when he needs to. Plus, he gets good downward movement on the pitch, which makes it even more effective. His change-up is still developing and the Phillies believe that he'll make it into an above average pitch as well and one that he can count on to keep hitters from digging in against him.

Pitching: Control and location. Those are the keys for Gonzalez, who has given up just nine homeruns in almost 190 innings of work in the minors. His walk/strikeout ratio is downright awesome and he has struck out well more than one hitter per inning in his career. Those are the things that Gonzalez thrives on when he's on the mound and so far, he's been able to do them consistently.

Projection: Gonzalez has moved pretty quickly through the White Sox system and he admits that his goal is to get a September audition with the Phillies. That may be a little lofty, especially since the Phillies generally don't move pitchers too quickly in the minors. It's a safe bet that Gonzalez will start at AA Reading and he could conceivably make it to Scranton by the end of the season, but he would have to be pitching very well for that to happen. Ideally, the Phillies would likely move Cole Hamels to Scranton first, probably by Memorial Day and then move Gonzalez for the last month or six weeks of the AAA season. Again, it's all going to depend on the numbers and, if the Phillies believe Gonzalez could be someone who could help them in September, they would be likely to move him to AAA a little quicker. Long-term though, Gonzalez figures to be no less than a middle-of-the-rotation starter and probably more in the majors.

Comparison: If you give Jon Lieber a better curveball and more control, you've got Gio Gonzalez. The Phillies think Gonzalez will have a lot of success and be one of the better all-around pitchers that they'll have on their staff for years to come. At least that's the plan.


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