Pittsburgh Pirates: Nick Gonzales’ Strong Second Half


The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted one of the top college hitters in 2020. He is showing why and is having a really strong second half of the season.

When Ben Cherington selected Nick Gonzales with the Pittsburgh Pirates first overall selection in 2020, the organization was getting one of the top college hitters in the draft. Outside of Spencer Torkelson, the first overall hitter, Gonzales bat speed and hit ability was likely the top in the draft. Gonzales tore up the Cape Cod league and had a blistering start to the 2020 season before the pandemic.

Given the pandemic, after being drafted, Gonzales only appeared at the alternate training site as there were no minor league games. This season, the second baseman was assigned to High-A Greensboro to start the year, a level in which he has played all season long. He got off to a strong start to the season, hitting .294/.368/.549 in his first 57 plate appearances. However, he suffered an injury and missed some time.

Unfortunately for Gonzales, the injury really hurt in his 132 plate appearances in June and July. In those 132 plate appearances, he hit just .252/.326/.403 with a 32.6 percent strikeout rate. This is far different from the player who received a future 60 hit tool from FanGraphs. August, on the other hand, led to a new beginning, one in which he won the player of the month for his league.

In August he had 117 plate appearances where he hit .364/.419/.757 with just a 21.4 percent strikeout rate. And since August, he is hitting an overall .355/.416/.750 with a 24.1 percent strikeout rate. His strong performance, which has included 11 home runs and 12 doubles, has been a big step forward. This led to him being the High-A East player of the week.

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Overall, Gonzales is showing why he was selected with the Pirates first round pick a season ago. He has a 148 wRC+ this season and has really shown improvement since fully recovering from his hand injury. With a likely stint in the Arizona Fall League this fall, a rapid promotion schedule should be in store for one of the Pirates top prospects.