PuRP No. 26: Pedro Gonzalez (214 points, 23 ballots) | Winter 2015 Ranking: NR | High Ballot 4, Mode Ballot 30
There was no wider vote distribution on any player than there was for Pedro Gonzalez. The tall (at least 6'3) 17 year-old SS/3B was the prized signing of Colorado's 2014 Latin American free agent pool, receiving a $1.3 million bonus. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs ranked him as the 14th best prospect in the system last year before Gonzalez had played a professional inning. McDaniel had this to say in his scouting report:
He's good at shortstop now and makes a lot of contact despite his age (16) and size due to his rare body control; scouts mention Manny Machado and Alex Rios as body comps. Gonzalez likely ends up at third base and develops at least average raw power, but, for now, he's more of a contact hitter; if/when/how he handles added weight will dictate his future.
Now that he has taken the field professionally, Gonzalez has quickly shown what made him such a highly touted player last year. Normally, a .279/.346/.527 line with eight homers and 23 extra base hits in 186 plate appearances is a pretty good sign for a prospect. Take that line and add in the fact that it was done by a 17 year-old against pitchers on average over a year older than him in a league where pitchers generally dominate, and you have something special -- Gonzalez's line adds up to 139 wRC+ (39 percent better than average).
There are caveats and warts, of course. Gonzalez has thus far benefited from a .358 BABIP and has struck out in 28.5 percent of his plate appearances. He has also committed 22 errors in 38 games, showing that the defense remains unpolished. Most of all, he's a long ways away from the big leagues -- he has the farthest away ETA of any player on this PuRPs list, and I don't blame many voters for taking a wait and see approach with Gonzalez until he gets stateside.
Still, if you combine his production in the DSL so far with the scouting accolades Gonzalez has already accrued, you have the potential for a special prospect. In fact, Gonzalez has one of the best DSL hitting lines that I've ever seen, which is doubtless why two voters rated Gonzalez as the fourth best player in the system. I rated the tools, ceiling, and production pretty highly as well -- placing Gonzalez 13th on my ballot. If Gonzalez can maintain that level of production in his move stateside next year, I think there's top ten prospect potential here as soon as 2016.
Contract Status: 2014 Free Agent (Dominican Republic); not Rule 5 eligible; three options remaining
MLB ETA: Late 2020