Scouting Rangers Prospect #39: Kennil Gomez

Right-hander Kennil Gomez was 8-4 with a 2.97 ERA in 2008, but his breakout season was cut short because of shoulder troubles. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at the 20-year-old pitcher with a feature article and an in-depth scouting report.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Kennil Gomez
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: April 8, 1988
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 170
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

The Rangers signed Dominican Republic native Kennil Gomez as an international free agent on June 1, 2006. Gomez, who was 18-years-old at the time, immediately went to work for the club's Dominican Summer League affiliate.

After joining the DSL Rangers, Gomez proceeded to post a 3.57 ERA in 12 relief appearances, spanning 17.2 innings. Over that time, he surrendered 15 hits, walked eight, and struck out 18.

Gomez began the 2007 campaign in the Dominican Republic, but he wasted no time in earning a promotion. The right-hander tossed just three hitless innings in the DSL before being sent to the rookie-level Arizona Rangers.

Although he wasn't a big-name prospect at the time of his signing, Gomez's 2007 AZL performance put him on the prospect radar. Working largely as a reliever, Gomez held opposing hitters to a .231 average while punching out 38 batters in 34.1 innings.

The impressive showing landed Gomez a spot on the Rangers' 2007 Fall Instructional League roster. He pitched well there and continued to do so during the following Spring Training. The performances led the Rangers to send Gomez straight to Single-A Clinton – bypassing short-season Spokane – to begin the '08 campaign.

Gomez cracked the Clinton rotation out of Spring Training and burst out of the gates, quickly becoming one of the Midwest League's top starting pitchers. In April, he went 4-0 with a 1.55 ERA in five starts. Gomez showed impeccable command, as shown in his 23 strikeouts and two walks in his first 29 frames.

The 20-year-old earned a spot in the Midwest League All-Star Game on the heels of a 2.67 first-half ERA. Opposing batters hit just .209 against him in 64 first-half innings.

Unfortunately, Gomez was limited to just four starts in the second half because of nagging shoulder soreness that increased late in the season. Though he continued to post solid numbers, the Rangers elected to shut him down for the season. Gomez rehabbed in Clinton for a few weeks before returning to Surprise for the remainder of the year.

Also See: Texas Rangers Top 50 Prospects (November 11, 2008)

Repertoire: Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.

Fastball: Gomez relies heavily on his two-seam fastball, which has tons of sink and armside run. He threw the pitch between 87-91 mph – usually sitting around 88-90 – during the 2008 season, but his shoulder troubles caused a gradual decrease in velocity as the year progressed. The prospect commands his fastball extremely well, especially given his age and relative lack of experience. Gomez keeps the pitch down in the zone, and he has consistently logged 2:1 groundout-to-flyout ratios during his young career.

Other Pitches: Gomez's curveball is currently the most advanced of his offspeed pitches. The pitch, which sits between the mid-to-high-70s, has a hard 1-to-7 break. His curve has potential to be a plus offering, and it is currently his strikeout pitch, but he sometimes overthrows it, causing the pitch to spin more than it breaks. His changeup is clearly his third pitch, as it is little more than a show-me offering.

Projection: With a great sinker and a potentially plus curveball, Gomez could develop into a mid-rotation starting pitcher in the Major Leagues. Gomez's changeup will also have to become a somewhat reliable offering before he fulfills his potential. The righty is polished for his age, and if he stays healthy, he could move through the system quickly. However, with his shoulder troubles, health is going to be a question mark until he proves otherwise.

2009 Outlook: If Gomez is healthy, he will progress to High-A Bakersfield in 2009. His dominant first half probably would have landed him in Bakersfield late last season had he not been injured. The Rangers aren't going to take any chances on the youngster's arm, so his workload could be rather light this season. Should the club choose to limit his innings, he could begin the season in extended spring training before joining a full-season team.

ETA: 2011.

Year Team W-L IP H BB SO ERA
2006 DSL Rangers (RK) 1-1 17.2 15 8 18 3.57
2007 DSL Rangers (DSL) 0-0 3.0 0 0 4 0.00
AZL Rangers (RK) 2-1 34.1 30 10 38 3.15
2008 Clinton (A) 8-4 88.0 75 20 70 2.97

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