Red Sox pitching prospect Wikelman Gonzalez has been named Carolina League Pitcher of the Week for the week of August 8-14, Minor League Baseball announced on Monday.
Gonzalez, 20, tossed six scoreless, no-hit innings in his last start for Low-A Salem in their contest against the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers on Saturday. The right-hander issued just one walk and plunked one batter to go along with five strikeouts on 81 pitches (49 strikes).
In 21 starts for Salem this season, Gonzalez has posted a 4.54 ERA — but much more respectable 3.83 FIP — with 98 strikeouts to 48 walks over 81 1/3 innings of work. That includes a 1.69 ERA (2.76 FIP) in the month of August.
Among Carolina League pitchers who have thrown at least 80 innings to this point in the year, Gonzalez ranks third in strikeouts per nine innings (10.84), fourth in strikeout rate (27.4%), second in batting average against (.209), and seventh in FIP, per FanGraphs.
While those numbers are certainly encouraging, Gonzalez has also produced the eighth-highest xFIP (4.49), the second-highest walk rate (13.4%), and the highest line-drive rate (28.3%) in the Carolina League when using those same parameters.
The Red Sox originally signed Gonzalez for $250,000 as an international free-agent coming out of Venezuela in July 2018. The Maracay native is now regarded by Baseball America as the No. 14 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks sixth among pitchers in the organization.
Since making his professional debut in June 2019, Gonzalez has pitched at three different levels. He began the 2021 campaign in the Florida Complex League before earning a promotion to Salem last August.
According to his Baseball America scouting report, the 6-foot, 170-pound hurler “features an easy, compact delivery” and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 93-94 mph fastball that tops out at 97 mph, an 87-89 mph changeup, and a 78-80 mph curveball.
Gonzalez, who does not turn 21 until next March, can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career this winter. The Red Sox, of course, would need to add the righty to their 40-man roster by the November deadline in order to prevent that from happening.
Given his age and lack of experience in the upper-minors, though, it is no sure thing that another club would scoop up Gonzalez in December’s Rule 5 Draft if he were to be left unprotected by the Sox.
That club would then need to carry Gonzalez on their major-league roster for the entirety of the 2023 season or would otherwise have to offer him back to Boston if he could not stick with them.
In the meantime, one would have to think Gonzalez could be on the verge of a promotion to High-A Greenville when taking into consideration how he has pitched as of late.
(Picture of Wikelman Gonzalez: Gary Streiffer/Flickr)