Wikelman Gonzalez was recently recognized by MLB Pipeline as the hottest pitching prospect in the Red Sox farm system.
Since being promoted from Low-A Salem to High-A Greenville last month, Gonzalez has posted a 2.65 ERA and 2.54 FIP to go along with 23 strikeouts to six walks over four starts (17 innings pitched) for the Drive. The right-hander struck out four across five one-run frames in his last time out against the Asheville Tourists at Fluor Field on Wednesday.
Prior to earning that promotion, Gonzalez began the 2022 season in Salem and produced a 4.54 ERA (3.86 FIP) with 98 punchouts to 48 walks over 21 starts (81 1/3 innings). Since making the jump from Low-A to High-A, the 20-year-old hurler has been getting strikeouts more frequently (27.4% to 32.9% strikeout rate) while giving up fewer walks (13.4% to 8.6% walk rate).
Gonzalez is currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 15 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks fifth among pitchers in the organization. The Red Sox originally signed the native Venezuelan for $250,000 as an international free-agent coming out of Maracay in July 2018.
Listed at 6-feet and 167 pounds, Gonzalez “operates at 92-95 mph and tops out at 97 with quality life on his heater. He gets good depth on his upper-70s curveball when he stays on top of it, though it devolves into a slurve at times. He has advanced feel for a mid-80s changeup with fade and isn’t afraid to use it,” per his MLB Pipeline scouting report.
Gonzalez, who does not turn 21 until next March, can become Rule 5-eligible for the first time in his career this winter. The Red Sox would need to add him to their 40-man roster by the November deadline in order to prevent that from happening.
Given that he is still young and has yet to pitch above High-A, it is no sure thing that Boston will protect — and therefore commit a 40-man roster spot to — Gonzalez this fall.
With that being said, Gonzalez possesses exciting potential and still has room to grow. As MLB Pipeline put it, “consistent control will be the deciding factor in Gonzalez’s pursuit of a Major League rotation spot.”
(Picture of Wikelman Gonzalez: Gwinn Davis/Greenville Drive)