Position: First Baseman
The Twins drafted Michael Gonezales in the ninth round of the 2008 June draft, selecting the young first baseman out of Diablo Valley College. A product of Liberty High School, Gonzales burst onto the scene with the Gulf Coast League Twins in 2008, batting .331 in 41 games. A skilled hitter with a lot of pop, Gonzales is likely slated for Beloit next season.
During his career at Liberty, Gonzales was far and away the best player on his team. He was a three-time team Most Valuable Player, and was a captain for three years as well. A sweet-swinging lefty, Gonzales was twice named All-League, and would begin his collegiate career with St. Mary's.
After a so-so stint with St. Mary's, including batting only .250 in 2007, Gonzales transferred to Diablo Valley, where he would go on to be one of the better players in the Big 8 Conference.
During his final season with Diablo Valley, Gonzales batted .377 for the team, smacking 18 home runs in only 43 games. Overall, Gonzales led the league in home runs and slugging percentage, while finishing second in runs batted in. The Twins saw enough in him to draft him quite early, and he hit the ground running in his first season with the organization.
After signing quickly, Gonzales took to the field, and was one of the better hitters on the Gulf Coast League Twins. He batted .331, hit three home runs, and drove in 23. Though his power numbers were down, he still showed a great knack for picking up big-time hits, and he slugged at nearly a .500 clip. It was truly a great first season for the big guy.
Batting and Power. Gonzales projects to be a 20-home run guy, but did not show great power in his first stint with the Twins. However, he does have the classic power swing, and will be a big bat for Beloit next season. He does need to work on his batting eye in professional baseball, as he struck out nearly once per game in 2008. He is a power hitter, so the strikeouts are always going to be there, and he will get better as he gets more experience at the pro level.
Baserunning and Speed. Gonzales is not fast, and the Twins do not expect to give him the green light when he gets on first. He is an average base runner, as he does not make many mistakes, but he will likely be the kind of guy who gets lifted for a pinch runner late in the game.
Defense. Gonzales has good feet around the bag, but is not a great fielder. He should get better as he gets work with the professional coaches the Twins have, but he is not going to be a Gold Glover. He has a good arm for a first baseman, but will likely be a designated hitter down the road.
ETA. 2012. Gonzales is likely to be in Beloit next season, but could make his way to Fort Myers if he has a good start to the season. He got a lot of experience playing in college, and he signed early enough to get his feet wet at the professional level in 2008. I expect a big season from him in 2009, and if he does not get caught up with hitting the longball, he should hit for a good average and with power next season.