In recent years, the Boston Red Sox have struggled to develop starting pitching. However, in a deep farm system, that has started to turn around. Over the last two years, Tanner Houck has been impressive in the majors, with help on the way. As the Red Sox got back to their winning ways last year, one prospect who continued to show promise was Wilkelman Gonzalez. In his second minor league season, Gonzalez continued to improve.
The 19-year-old began the 2021 season in the FGL and posted a 3.60 ERA in eight games. He built on his 2019 campaign and struck out 46 batters in 35 innings of work. Against more advanced hitters, his velocity continued to improve as his fastball now tops out in the mid-nineties. Due to his success, Gonzalez was promoted to Salem to end the season.
In four starts at Single-A, the Venezuelan native allowed five runs in 17.2 innings of work. He held opponents to a .206 batting average and showed why he is currently ranked as the Red Sox’s 14th best prospect. As he adjusted to a new environment, Gonzalez did not allow a run in two of his four starts for Salem. It was a welcoming sign for the Red Sox as they got a closer look at one of their most promising prospects.
Wilkelman Gonzalez has quickly become one of the most interesting arms in the #RedSox system.
52.2 IP (35 IP RK, 17.2 IP A)
There’s effort in the delivery, but at 19 his stuff is advanced. #DirtyWater
— Tyler Milliken ⚾️ (@tylermilliken_) November 14, 2021
What the Future Holds for Gonzalez
When the 2022 season begins, Gonzalez is expected to be in the Salem rotation. He isn’t projected to make his MLB debut until 2025, as he is far from a finished project. As the former international free agent signee gets closer to the majors, he will need to improve his secondary pitches. Gonzalez possesses a solid changeup and curveball but needs to focus on consistency. That will be put to the test when baseball does resume, and hitters adjust to his tendencies.
While Gonzalez’s MLB debut is still a few years away, he is Boston’s sixth-best pitching prospect. If he can build on his 2021 campaign that could soon change. He is viewed as a potential No. 3 starter and has added 10 mph to his fastball since turning pro. Through his 26 minor league starts, he has been able to limit home runs which will be key going forward. Regardless of when the lockout ends, Gonzalez is one of the Red Sox’s most intriguing prospects. He has pounded the strike zone so far in his pro career and only walked 40 batters. As he continues to gain more experience, he will be a prospect to watch.
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Main Image Credit: From Blogging the Red Sox