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Viva El Birdos Cardinals Prospect Rankings: Derian Gonzalez

This new 40-man roster member was on the Just Missed list.

MiLB: AUG 17 Gulf Coast League - GCL Cardinals at GCL Nationals Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images

Editor’s Note: A.E. Schafer aka the red baron has once again compiled a rather impressive list of Cardinals prospects doing a write-up on 40 individual prospects. As a convenience to our readers, he releases the list in a couple big chunks so everyone can read about all of the prospects at once. While that is a convenience to all of us who eagerly await the arrival of prospect lists, it might not be as convenient if you are looking for a player’s particular scouting report. So, as a further convenience, we are putting the individual scouting reports in separate posts to make individual players easier to find. You can find the full lists on our 2018 prospect page here. —CE

Derian Gonzalez, RHP

6’3”, 190 lbs; Bats/Throws: Right/Right

DOB: 31 January 1995

Level(s) in 2017: Palm Beach (High A)

Relevant Numbers: 21.4% K rate, 3.56 FIP

So, what’s so great about this guy?

I’ll be honest; I’m not a huge fan of Derian Gonzalez. In fact, I probably wouldn’t even be writing him up here if not for the fact the Cardinals recently added him to the 40 man roster, meaning there’s at least some chance we could see him in a St. Louis uniform this coming season, and I should at least inform you all in that case.

The stuff for Gonzalez is good; he works around 93-94 with his fastball, topping out about 95, and it moves, especially when it’s up. It’s not bad down, but it’s better up, if that makes sense. His best pitch for me, though, is a hard curveball that he can bury down and out of the zone for swings and misses consistently. He doesn’t put it in the strike zone nearly as well, but when he needs a strikeout he can get it on the breaking ball.

I’m told there’s a changeup, but it’s not very good, and I’ll be frank and tell you I don’t believe I’ve ever actually seen him throw a change. Admittedly, I haven’t seen Gonzalez pitch a ton, but from what I have seen I feel comfortable putting him down as a two-pitch pitcher. Which is fine, since both pitches are really pretty good.

Gonzalez hasn’t been particularly durable, dealing with shoulder soreness each of the last two seasons, and combined with his limited arsenal I think it’s time to move him to relief work. The Cards have continued to try and develop him as a starter, which I respect, but for me his best path to the big leagues is short stints, trying to get the velocity to play up and leaning on a very intriguing breaking ball.

If he’s good, it will look like: I could go multiple directions here, but the early-career Angels version of Francisco Rodriguez is my favourite pitcher of this type. Not real big, but throws hard and has a wicked curve that hitters just sort of flail at most of the time. K-Rod is obviously the best version of what Gonzalez could be, and has actually evolved a remarkable amount for a pitcher who had such a specific repertoire early on, but if the stuff does play up in the ‘pen, Gonzalez’s stuff isn’t far off that mark.

You may notice that I’ve done away with the vague ‘player comp’ label, and gone with a more specific take. This is to try and drive home the point that when I’m trying to compare a player to another, I’m going for a qualitative, not quantitative, sort of analysis. If Derian Gonzalez gets to the big leagues and succeeds, the player he will probably remind us of would be someone like Francisco Rodriguez. I hope the more specific wording will help everyone picture the type of player we’re talking about in their heads, without throwing the word ‘comp’ in there, which has come to be so closely associated with certain projection systems and the like.

via JW Fisher: