Updates: The Dodgers are reportedly out on Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. If interested in more defector profiles, and comparisons to MAG, here are Dalier Hinojosa, Odrisamer Despaigne, Aledmis Diaz, Dariel Alvarez, Alexander Guerrero, and Misael Siverio.
The latest Cuban defector to draw serious attention from Major League teams is Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. I’m not sure who is representing him, but they have definitely found the on switch for the hype machine. CBS reporter Danny Knobler hears that he could draw upwards of $60 million in a deal.
The Cubs are said to have serious interest in addition to the Dodgers, Red Sox, Angels, and Rangers. Gonzalez was showcased in Tijuana on Friday night in front of about 45 scouts. The Red Sox alone sent 8 scouts. The Cubs were heavily represented. The Dodgers took a different tack, sending only their representative from the Cayman Islands along with a pen, napkin, and small table well-suited for sliding said napkin across.
I don’t doubt that Gonzalez will get paid, as he is coasting in the wake of Yasiel Puig, Yoenis Cespedes, and Aroldis Chapman (grrr…) into a market with money to burn. For all the hype, though, it’s surprisingly difficult to for casual box score readers such as myself to determine whether he’s any good. Given that, I decided to see if I could wrangle up his stats from la Serie Nacional. I may not be the lackey you deserve, Internet, but I am the one that you need.
First things first, though. Gonzalez is a 6′ 3″ righty who definitely looks the part. His fastball reaches the mid-90s and he also features a curve, cutter, and changeup.
Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez Stats
|Age||IP||K/9||BB/9||H/9||HR/9||K%||BB%||dt K/9||dt BB/9||dt HR/9||dt NERA|
**Baseball World Cup
Sources: Clay Davenport, beisbolencuba.com, baseball-reference, torosdetijuana.com, granma.cubasi.cu
While his numbers are on the whole are somewhat underwhelming, I think some caution is in order:
- The strikeout revolution never hit Cuba. For the 2011 season, the league average strikeout rate was around 4.6 per 9, with walks at 4.0 per 9. Those levels haven’t been seen in this country since long before the Jamesian partisans made their stand. I have to think this is the reason that Gonzalez’s periphs hold up OK in Clay Davenport’s wonderful translations (as denoted by “dt” prefixes in the lower table).
- Gonzalez hasn’t really pitched for any significant stretch since that 2011 season. He was suspended after unsuccessfully trying to flee the island, and during that suspension had bone spurs removed from his elbow. Those spurs could well have impacted his prior performance.
- His two appearances in Tijuana have been excellent; he struck out 11 of the 22 batters he faced. (I don’t know whether this includes his Friday start ). On the other hand, the Toros are in a minor league in Mexico, and they may or may not have featured the great Ricardo Rincon for a handful of innings this season (cue Brad Pitt fist pump).
On the whole, I think it’s safe to say that as prospects go, Gonzalez is not on the level of Our Oldest Chap, Man. If any team is betting on him as a mid-rotation starter, as is suggested by the dollar amounts being tossed around, that decision is going to be one made largely by scouts. The good news is that in contrast to other Cuban defectors, Gonzalez previously pitched for the Cuban team in worldwide tournaments in 2009 and 2011. When combined with his most recent exhibitions, the scouts have had plenty of chances to get a look at him.
Cuban Fans Weigh In
Miguel Alfredo, don’t let the good birds’ songs put you to sleep. Wake up man, your future is great, but there is only one life. (El coco translation c/o SVB)
I’m not putting anything past the Dodgers. Their rotation is somewhat depleted at the moment with Josh Beckett out for the year, Ted Lilly on the DL, and Chris Capuano and Zack Greinke struggling. I could easily see a 5/$65 deal from the nouveau riche squad. If prices do reach that level I won’t be disappointed if the Cubs bow out.