Nick Gonzales' stint with the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier this year was undoubtedly a valuable learning experience. It's clear that he faced some challenges during his time in the majors, with a notable issue being the swing-and-miss aspect of his game. This is an area that many young hitters grapple with when transitioning to the highest level of baseball. To make consistent hard contact is something that disappeared from Gonzales's game during his Big League debut.
Gonzales started off his Big League career in encouraging manner. The former first round pick was batting .270 with an .810 OPS through the first 16 games of his career. However, the last 15 games before being sent down were the complete opposite. Through the final 15 games he hit .146 with a .410 OPS. Overall he struck out exactly 31 times in 31 Big League games.
However, what's particularly encouraging is Gonzales' response to these challenges. He didn't let those initial struggles deter him. He returned to Triple-A with determination and likely a focus on improving his swing and contact rate. He has done that, the Twitter account from Triple-A Indianpolis made note of his performance:
Now there is still concern about Gonzales' ability to make enough contact at the Big League level. He is striking out once per game still. The difference is he is hitting the ball harder. It was reported that Jared Triolo worked on his swing to add more power. Since he was called back up we have seen that increase in power for Triolo.
It is time for the Pittsburgh Pirates to give Nick Gonzales another look at the Big League level.
So maybe Nick Gonzales is following a similar path? This would be super encouraging to know that the Pittsburgh Pirates are not just sending these players back to the minors for roster purposes but are also giving them things to actually improve upon. For once, there is some tangible evidence that the Pittsburgh Pirates development team is making an impact.
If Gonzales can continue and hit the ball for the power he has been this month, then the one strikeout per game issue will not nearly be as big of an issue. On top of that, if he is putting the ball in play harder and more consistently some of those outs will start turning into hits. Either way, the Pittsburgh Pirates are hot right now and so in Gonzales. Liover Peguero has had a tough series of games of late so now is as good of time as ever to make the roster move.