A break out season in two years ago garnered righty pitcher Severino Gonzalez a lot of attention and had some touting his potential as sky high. He followed that up, however, with a campaign in 2014 that brought him back down to Earth a bit.
After signing with the Phillies as an amateur free agent in 2011, Gonzalez made his pro debut that same year in the Venezuelan Summer League, putting together a 1-1 record with a save and a 2.11 ERA in 17 games as a reliever. The following season in the same league, Gonzalez tallied a 7-3 record and a league best 1.65 ERA in 14 starts. He also led the league in strike outs (86), innings pitched (92 2/3) and complete games (two).
In 2013, at the age of 20, Gonzalez came to the United States for his very first spring training and showed no great issues when dealing with the cultural change. He was able to bond with countryman Carlos Ruiz, who was serving a drug suspension at extended spring training which helped Gonzalez adapt. His comfort level was clear, as he was impressive enough to earn a spot with the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers by early May and shined brightly in the months that followed
The six-foot-one 155-pounder went on to post video game numbers, through his first 11 outings in the Florida State League, allowing just one earned run in 26 1/3 innings while striking out 32 and issuing just two free passes. A rough appearance (four earned runs in one inning) on June 22nd was followed by a demotion to Class A Lakewood, which was designed to get Gonzalez into a starting role.
With the BlueClaws, Gonzalez continued to dominate, going 3-0 with 1.69 ERA while striking out 31 and walking three in 21 1/3 innings in four starts.
After a return to Clearwater, during which he tallied a 2.23 ERA in eight starts, Gonzalez closed out the season with a start on Labor Day for Double-A Reading, allowing two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out six and allowed no walks in that outing.
Gonzalez’s exceptional season saw him post 7-5 record, a 2.00 ERA, a .224 batting average against along with his 10.33 K/9 and his 1.91 BB/9 combined at three levels. For his efforts, the youngster was named as the Phillies’ Paul Owens Award winner, an honor given to the top minor league pitcher and the top position player in the organization annually.
Last year, Gonzalez’s numbers took a dip. In 27 games started with Reading, he sported a 9-13 record with a 4.59 ERA, a 6.52 K/9 mark and a .270 batting average against. His 1.93 BB/9 remained on point.
Gonzalez showed that he still had the skills that made him a buzz worthy prospect in 2013 by continuing to display command and by closing out his 2014 season with a 2-1 record and a 2.16 ERA while striking out 19 and walking six in 25 innings in four starts after missing a start for some necessary rest in early August.
The repertoire for Gonzalez includes a cut fastball that peaks in the low 90’s, a curveball with really nice movement and a an improving change up. The fastball features movement as well, with the pitch running away from righties and in toward lefties. The change up was something that he was forced to throw at increased rates last year, in order to improve the offering as a go-to option for his arsenal. His big strength is his command and his ability to keep pitches down in the zone.
Phillies brass and coaches would like to see the thinly built 22-year-old add some muscle. A more developed frame could help add some velocity to the fastball.
Gonzalez is loaded with promise at this stage, having seen success as one of the youngest hurlers in his league during each of the past couple seasons. Look for a repeat assignment in the Reading rotation for the coming season.
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