Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Nick Gonzales Dominates Month of August
Pittsburgh Pirates 2020 first-round draft pick Nick Gonzales had a big month of August while making himself one of the best players at his level
One of the best position player prospects that the Pittsburgh Pirates have in their loaded farm system is infielder Nick Gonzales. Drafted as the 7th overall pick in 2020 we ranked him as the Pirates’ 2nd best prospect. However, you could easily make a case for him to be the team’s best prospect. He’s a consensus top 100 prospect, but his stock should have taken a huge upturn over this past month. The month of August for Gonzales was, to put it simply, quite outstanding.
Through the 107 plate appearances Gonzales had in August he hit .364/.419/.757 with a .486 wOBA, and 201 wRC+. He swatted 10 home runs while having a solid 21.1% strikeout rate. That strikeout rate is a good sign of things to come as he struggled with swings and misses early on in the season and is a potential signal that he’s improved over the course of the year. Of the 39 hits he had, 21 went for extra bases.
Gonzales capped off his month in a big way. In his final 12 trips to the plate, he collected 7 hits. Five of which went over the fences at Greensboro’s park. He struck out just one time and was responsible for 15 RBIs.
These are the numbers the Pittsburgh Pirates were expecting when they drafted him 7th overall. Gonzales’ hit tool was never in question, but he’s hitting way more power than ever was expected. While that’s not to say that Gonzales was never expected to hit for power, the guy had a .393 isolated slugging percentage this month. Just for reference of how good that is, Barry Bonds had a .354 ISO throughout his time in a San Francisco Giants uniform.
With this outstanding month of August, Gonzales’s overall numbers look like this: .303/.369/.567 line, .399 wOBA, 146 wRC+, 8.2% walk rate, 27.5% strikeout rate and .264 ISO. His success has mainly been due to his very good 28.6% line drive rate and very low ground ball rate of 35.6%. Heck, he’s hit almost as many fly balls as ground balls with a 36.2% fly ball rate.
Among Pirate minor leaguers with at least 250 plate appearances this season, Gonzales ranks second in wRC+ and OPS, while he ranks third in wOBA. Matthew Fraizer, Mason Martin and Aaron Shackelford have been the only Pirate minor league hitters to have more home runs. However, all three have at least 60 plate appearances on Gonzales.
Gonzales is also one of the best hitters at his level, regardless of team. Currently, 186 players at High-A have at least 250 plate appearances. Gonzales ranks 14th in wRC+, wOBA, and 7th in OPS. His ISO is also among the best at #13.
His fantastic month of August should at least get him a cup of coffee at Altoona. While Altoona’s season is nearing its end, it’s only fair that Gonzales at least gets a taste of Double-A action so he knows what he’ll be up against for a portion of 2022. Regardless, Gonzales showed off his outstanding potential in August (as well as throughout the season) while making a case to at least get a debut in the majors within the next year.