When the Cubs signed 17-year-old Angel Gonzalez as a non-drafted free agent in 2020, it was a little bit hard to find information on him. It took a little bit of digging but the youngster from Puerto Rico had taken a huge leap physically between the ages of 16 and 17. It was still not enough to get him drafted. Then again, it was only a five round draft. .
Age – 19
Throws – Right
Height – 6-foot-2
Weight – 175
From – Delgado, Corozal, PR
Signed as a non-drafted free agent on July 8, 2020
The Cubs signed several players out of high school in Puerto Rico over the past six years. For Gonzalez, he was originally known as Angel Gonzalez–Martinez. Now, he’s just rolling with Angel Gonzalez. The only thing known about Gonzalez when he was signed was that he did have an uptick in his velocity from the mid-to-upper 80s to the low 90s at age 17. This is from his PBR report:
“Angel Gonzalez Martinez is a 2020 RHP/OF with a 6-1 168 lb. frame from Corozal, PR who attends Emilio R Delgado School. Tall, lanky frame with athleticism and lots of room for additional strength and physicality. Primary right-handed pitcher who only threw during the event. Small side step into a high leg lift. Longer stride down the mound with good extension. Stays online through the delivery and doesn’t have much effort at release. Long, loose arm stroke with requisite arm speed and whip through the zone.”
When he arrived in Mesa last summer, I was not sure what to expect from a high school kid out of Puerto Rico who had not faced a lot of advanced or international competition. Let’s just say that the first couple months were a bit rough. He got in one game in June and six in July and had an ERA of over 18. In August, things were not quite 10 times better but close. He appeared in seven games and threw 12 innings and struck out nine. His ERA was just over five. That’s progress. What I found most interesting is that line was that opponents only hit .195 against him in August. That tells me that his stuff is not exactly easy to hit. His issue, like most young pitchers, was issuing too many walks.
Things started turning around for Gonzalez in September as he appeared in five games and threw 8.1 innings. But there were two stats that were just eye-popping in addition to his much lower 3.24 ERA. He struck out 12 and opponents only hit. 077 against him. He still walked eight, though. That gives you a little idea on what he needed to work on for 2022.
Heading into this year, I thought that he would be in Mesa the whole summer. His name kept popping up in extended spring training box scores on The Cub Reporter and I really wanted to see him in person just based on the reports that I was hearing. I was surprised when a spot opened up in Myrtle Beach in May and they called on Gonzalez to come fill it. When that happened, Arizona Phil dropped some serious knowledge on all of us.
So far Gonzalez has pitched 4.1 innings in Myrtle Beach and he’s going to be a work in progress all summer as he adapts to an advanced level of competition. It’s rare for a 19-year-old to show up in Low-A as a relief pitcher. That arm has to be pretty advanced to make it this far. Let’s take a look at just exactly what he is throwing.
I really like his breaking ball which looks to be a slider. His fastball has good life at 94-95 and he can top out at 98 and 99. The issue going forward is commanding the fastball as his slider works off that. His changeup has some drop to it, but it is still all about the fastball. It has a little bit of armside run to it. If he gets that down, things will get very interesting very quickly.
I am not going to make any major prognostications about his future today. But when you have a live arm like his, a decent frame to build on, the future begins to look intriguing, especially when you can throw in the mid 90s. He is going to be one great follow this summer!