In the summer of 2012, a group from the Dodgers’ scouting department made a trip to Mexico City to evaluate a Cuban prospect named Yasiel Puig.
The Dodgers wound up signing Puig—and five other prospects they scouted on the trip. One of those prospects was lefthander Julio Urias, who is projected to join the big league rotation this season.
Another lefthander signed on that trip, Victor Gonzalez, has now made his way onto the Dodgers’ 40-man roster.
Just slightly older than Urias when he signed in July 2012, the 24-year-old Gonzalez spent his first four seasons in the Dodgers’ system between Rookie ball and low Class A. He then missed all of 2017 and most of 2018 recovering from Tommy John surgery.
After initially struggling in his return in 2018, Gonzalez rose through three levels in 2019. The 6-foot, 180-pound lefthander got his first taste of Double-A and Triple-A and thrived. In 89.2 innings between three levels, he recorded a 2.31 ERA with 93 strikeouts.
Pitching as a starter and reliever, Gonzalez dominated lefthanded hitters, holding them to a .152 average.
His success led to the Dodgers putting him on the 40-man roster in November to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.
“Coming off Tommy John . . . he just came out on a mission,” farm director Will Rhymes said. “His velo was a tick up. He was up to 98 (mph) last year during parts of the season. He’s got a deceptive look from the left side.
“It’s a pretty full arsenal. He has a firm slider, curveball and a good changeup.”
Rhymes also mentioned that Gonzalez has the weapons to get hitters out from both sides of the plate, but it is Gonzalez’s ability to dominate lefthanded hitters that could be his path to the big leagues.
Now, the challenge in front of Gonzalez is to continue advancing after last season’s success.
“I think that’s it,” Rhymes said. “He’s a really good strike-thrower. We’d like to see him continue to work on his pitches, maybe developing some more swing-and-miss stuff and really just keep growing into his stuff.”