Chi Chi Gonzalez is making his big league debut on Saturday against the Boston Red Sox. The Oral Roberts product was drafted 23th overall in 2013 and has been a quick mover through the system since.
He can flash 97 with his fastball, but sits consistently 93-95. His fastball has some cut to it making it play even better especially since he has the ability to paint the corners with it.
His second best pitch is his slider which has sharp movement and is a pitch he can vary speeds with. He has a version he throws in the upper 80’s with a little less break or one in the mid-80’s with significantly more break which has been graded out as a plus pitch.
He also features two more average pitches, a curve and a change. The curve is nothing special, but he is not afraid to use it early in counts to keep hitters off-balance, making his fastball even more effective. The change is the pitch he has the least amount of feel for, but it is still a quality fourth offering.
He has a smooth and consistent delivery, but his front leg gets somewhat stiff at times and can fly open at times. He has struggled with command some this season, walking 19 in just over 43 innings, but he had walked just 57 in 181 innings in his first season and a half of pro ball.
When talking to Robinson Chirinos this Spring, he raved about Gonzalez’ stuff and could not say enough good things about his experience catching him. With the injuries to the pitching staff in Spring Training, Gonzalez had a chance to pitch more than originally expected in big league camp, and there was even a point where the coaching staff was not counting him out as an option for the opening day rotation.
Now that Gonzalez has made it to the big leagues, he should be able to stick. His upside is that of a number two starter, but could be an excellent number three. He may have the best stuff of any starter currently in the Rangers rotation, it will just be a matter of time to see if he can harness all four of his pitches well enough to turn his stuff in to quality production.