Nick Gonzales: What The Exit Velocity Numbers Say About Potential Impact

The Pittsburgh Pirates have promoted their second former first round pick in the same week, with Nick Gonzales following Henry Davis to the majors.

Gonzales was the first draft pick under the Ben Cherington regime, taken seventh overall out of New Mexico State. Highly touted due to his hit tool, and advanced college bat, Gonzales was expected to move quickly through the system.

Injuries and some swing and miss concerns really slowed down his progress to the majors, but nonetheless, he is here now and looking to help a severely slumping offense.

He can be a bit of a puzzling player at time, as despite his 28.1% career strikeout rate in the minors, Gonzales has also shown the ability to take walks as well — holding a 12.4% walk rate in 958 plate appearances.

If he can show enough patience at the plate to force him into favorable fastball counts, he will be able to do some serious damage.

Category Nick Gonzales ML Comp MLB Percentile 2B Percentile
Sweet Spot% 38.2% Matt McLain 80th 77th
Max EV 108.8 mph Brandon Crawford 23rd 54th
Exit Velocity 89.1 mph Joey Wiemer 47th 77th
Hard Hit% 39% Luis Garcia 42nd 67th
Barrel% 7.03% Tucupita Marcano 42nd 70th
Barrel/PA% 3.62% Alec Burlesson 22nd 51st

This is a look at Gonzales’ Triple-A exit velocity metrics, taken from Baseball Savant. I compared it with major league hitters with a minimum of 100 batted ball events (271 players) at the time of his call up Friday morning.

Using his metrics, I found the major league player that had the same, or closest, mark in the same category, and his percentile rank among the 271 hitters with 100 BBE, and then again with the 31 second basemen with the same sample size.

While Wiemer has the same average exit velocity as Gonzales, two familiar names are also within a few percentage points as well — Marcano and Connor Joe.

McLain is a former Top 100 prospect who has been a big piece to the Cincinnati Reds’ big turnaround, and is the only comp listed above with a positive wRC+ (125).

Maybe Gonzales doesn’t stand out in any one category when looking where he falls in with the rest of the league, but based on how he compares to his position, it still looks like he is in line to potentially be an above-average hitting second baseman, depending on how the strikeouts play out.

He’s taken a little bit of time to adjust at each new level he’s played at, so maybe the immediate results won’t be the best, but just looking at these numbers, there isn’t a player (except maybe Liover Peguero) that may be able to make an impact on a struggle offense like Gonzales potentially can.

Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

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