Scouting Rangers Prospect #34: Kennil Gomez

Right-hander Kennil Gomez experienced an up-and-down season with Bakersfield in 2009, but his stuff was solid and he showed flashes of dominance. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at the 21-year-old 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
Acquired: 2006 International Free Agent

Texas Rangers pitching prospect Kennil Gomez is one of the system's more intriguing arm simply because of his raw stuff.

The 6-foot-3, 170-pound hurler features a sinking fastball that simply falls off the table, and he has two solid offspeed pitches. But Gomez's inconsistency in 2009 led to a 5.27 ERA in 26 starts at High-A Bakersfield.

"It has been up and down," said Blaze pitching coach Dave Chavarria late in the season. "[Gomez] shows flashes of electric stuff with his fastball, his breaking ball, and his changeup."

At times last season, Gomez was Bakersfield's best starting pitcher. He turned in performances filled with ground balls and strikeouts. Unfortunately, he also had his share of outings that included high pitch counts, hits, and walks.

Chavarria believes it's a focus problem, and that is something he has worked with Gomez to correct.

"The big thing I think Gomez is finding out is just being focused on every single pitch of every inning that he throws," he said. "When he usually runs into trouble is when he loses focus. If there are two outs and it's a walk, it usually leads to something.

"We're just trying to get him to where those little things won't hurt you. You have to focus on what you're doing with this pitch at this time and stuff like that."

The 21-year-old Gomez has a promising changeup to go along with his fastball. The pitch comes in at 84-86 mph [compared to his 88-91 mph fastball], so it doesn't have much velocity separation, but it is still very effective.

"The action–he's a two-seam guy, but there is some fade action to his changeup," Chavarria said. "There is, at times, more of a differential with his changeup and his fastball than at other times."

Though Gomez's changeup is slightly unorthodox, it's not necessarily a bad thing.

"He is a different type of breed," the pitching coach said. "A lot of finger pressure on the ball with him makes the ball do things that other guys can't do. Fortunately he is gifted to do that."

The 2010 campaign will be just Gomez's third full season in the United States, and he figures to reach Double-A Frisco by the end of the season. Even given last year's mediocre results, the pitcher is a prospect to keep an eye on.

"He is exciting to watch," Chavarria said. "He works real quick tempo-wise and he can be really aggressive."

Also See: Top Prospects, Top Tools (February 11, 2010)
Sizing up the right-handed starters (December 16, 2009)

Repertoire: Fastball, Slider, Changeup.

Fastball: The right-hander has one of the organization's best fastballs, and it's not because of pure velocity. Gomez usually works in the upper-80s, low-90s, and he was more consistently in the 90-91 mph range last season. His fastball is a special pitch because of its sink––the pitch dives under bats, generating plenty of swings and misses when he commands it. However, Gomez has fastball command issues. He led the California League with 67 walks and often left fastballs up in the zone, making him more hittable than he should have been given his velocity and movement.

Other Pitches: Gomez has a strong feel for his offspeed stuff, and he shows flashes of two future average-to-above average secondary pitches. His breaking ball is very inconsistent, but it has potential. Gomez is crafty with his breaking pitch, throwing it anywhere from the low-70s to low-80s with slurve-ish action. He still needs to improve command and tighten up the pitch, but it should be at least average down the line.

The Dominican Republic native also has a promising changeup, even though it is slightly unorthodox. While Gomez doesn't get much velocity separation between his fastball and changeup––it usually comes in around 84-86 mph––it is very successful. Gomez's changeup moves just like his two-seam fastball, with plenty of sink and fade. He is comfortable throwing the pitch against both lefties and righties, and it is effective against both because of its movement and deception––as long as he keeps it down. Overall, Gomez has a good feel for his secondary stuff, and it should only improve with time.

Projection: Gomez can be a dominant three-pitch guy when he works in rhythm and he's commanding his arsenal down in the zone. He has the stuff to eventually become a mid-rotation starting pitcher, but his power sinker could also play well in the bullpen if he can't stick as a starter. As impressive as the stuff and feel for pitching was at times in 2009, Gomez was still very inconsistent and he finished the year with a 5.27 ERA. He obviously still has plenty of work remaining to reach his potential.

2010 Outlook: Gomez's 2010 destination is still up in the air, and he could be pitching for a spot in the Double-A Frisco rotation during Spring Training. However, his '09 inconsistencies will probably land him back at High-A Bakersfield to begin the season. Assuming Gomez can iron out some of his issues and post improved results with the Blaze this season, he should see Frisco at some point, perhaps around the All-Star break.

ETA: 2012.

Year Team W-L IP H BB SO ERA
2006 DSL Rangers (DSL) 1-1 17.1 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
2009 Bakersfield (A+) 8-10 135.0 147 67 126 5.27

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