With the offense struggling mightily, it could be time for the Pittsburgh Pirates to see what former first-round pick Nick Gonzales can do in the majors
Right now the Pittsburgh Pirates need all the help they can get. The starting rotation has been hit hard by the injury bug. Their bullpen, also imapcted by injuries, has been terrible in recent weeks, and the offense is struggling to score.
2021 no. 1 overall pick Henry Davis made his MLB debut with the Pirates on Monday as they look to use his bat to inject some much needed life in the lineup. With Davis in the majors, it may now be time for another former first-round pick to earn a promotion. Should the Pirates look to see what Nick Gonzales can do in the majors?
Gonzales was selected no. 7 overall by the Pirates in the 2020 MLB Draft. The past two seasons have seen his prospect stock take a hit. Largely due to seemingly being pigeon holed into second base defensively and big swing-and-miss concerns, Gonzales has fallen from the no. 20 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline at the start of last season to completely out of their top 100. At Baseball America he has tumbled from no. 49 prior to last season to out of the top 100 as well, and FanGraphs now gives him a future value of just 40 while ranking Gonzales outside of Pittsburgh's top 20 prospects.
All of this points toward a prospect with major questions about their MLB future. There is no denying the amount of questions around Gonzales and rather or not he'll success as a MLB htiter. Anyone who reads our site or follows us on Twitter knows I have very low expectations for Gonzales. However, sooner or later the Pirates need to figure out what they have in him.
Overall, Gonzales is having a pretty average season at Triple-A. Through 257 plate appearances, Gonzales is hitting for a .257/.370/.444 slash line with a 105 wRC+, 13.2% walk rate, and a 29.2% strikeout rate. Good at best numbers for his first taste of action at the Triple-A level.
His overall numbers were hurt by a slow start to the season that included an injury, an injury that led to an IL stint. In recent weeks Gonzales has been putting up better results at Triple-A. It may now be time to see what he can do in the majors.
In 68 PAs since May 29th Gonzales is hitting for a .279/.444/.500 slash line with a 144 wRC+, 20.0% walk rate, and a 24.4% strikeout rate. With Gonzales seemingly heating up at the plate in the Pirates in desperate need for all and any help they can get, why not see what he can do in the majors?
Another factor is how poor second base has been for the Pirates this season. Neither Ji Hwan Bae nor Rodolfo Castro have done anything to seize the job at second base. For the season, Pirate second basemen are hitting for a .247/.322/.363 slash line with a wRC+ of 89 and a -0.2 fWAR.
Could Gonzales be an upgrade over that? No one knows, but it would be difficult to not be an improvement over production that poor. If nothing else, adding Gonzales and bumping Bae to center field on a regular basis with Jack Suwinski sliding over to right field would imrpove the Pirate defense. With Bryan Reynolds currently out of the lineup due to a back issue, Suwinski could slide over to play left field in place of Reynolds while keeping Henry Davis in right field. Even though Davis should be catching every day, but I digress.
Again, at some point soon the Pirates need to find out what they have in Gonzales. He's a 24-year-old hitter who was drafted out of college and is now in his third minor league season. There likely is not much development left in Gonzales outside of him looking to take developmental steps in the majors. Combine this with the lineup being in dire need of help, and the time for the Pirates to find out what they have in Gonzales might be now.