Wilkelman Gonzalez Has Exciting Upside
When Rollie Pino first saw Wilkelman Gonzalez in Venezuela, the Red Sox co-director of international scouting believed the righthander represented a special talent.
At the time, Gonzalez was "5-foot-10 and about 140 pounds soaking wet," Pino recalled. Though Gonzalez was throwing in the mid 80s, Pino saw the ease and athleticism of his delivery and the ability to throw a fastball with life, a changeup with depth and a true curveball.
He believed Gonzalez had the potential for three plus pitches.
“His delivery was really good. He was a good athlete. His arm speed was really good. And he had a feel for pitching,” said Pino of the 2018 signee. “He had big, huge upside.”
That view hasn’t changed. The 19-year-old Gonzalez pitched his way out of the Florida Complex League this season to make four starts for Low-A Salem. In 52.2 total innings he recorded a 2.91 ERA with 66 strikeouts and 16 walks. He allowed two home runs in 12 appearances.
Salem pitching coach Nick Green had initially worked with Gonzalez in 2020 at instructional league. Then, he had seen a righthander with a lively arm but who was prone to overthrowing.
When Gonzalez joined Salem at the end of 2021, Green immediately noticed in a bullpen session that Gonzalez had made delivery improvements—becoming more compact with his hands yet maintaining fluidity—that permitted significant command improvements.
That strong impression was amplified by the pitcher’s stuff. Now 6 feet and 191 pounds, Gonzalez sits at 93-94 mph and touches 97. His 78-82 mph changeup has emerged as a weapon thanks to the way he sells it, with hitters reading fastball on a pitch that has late fade.
His curveball has been less consistent but shows clear potential as a solid or better offering.
“He's definitely a power arm, but he’s able to control it. It’s not violent. It’s repeatable,” Green said. “There’s nothing suggesting bullpen with him. He definitely profiles as a starter, for sure.
"He has the potential for plus stuff. It’s definitely an exciting ceiling.”
— Righthander Kutter Crawford was pitching for Estrellas in the Dominican League. He opened the winter season with nine shutout innings in his first two starts.
— The Red Sox did not renew the contract of Triple-A manager Billy McMillon, who spent 14 years as a coach, coordinator and manager in the Red Sox organization.