On Sunday, Jacob Gonzalez didn’t record a hit.
That’s been a rare occurrence this season. Gonzalez crushed Low-A to the tune of a 1.128 OPS, before being promoted earlier this month to High-A Greensboro. Since his arrival, Gonzalez has recorded a hit in all but two of his 11 games.
That first day he got here, he made his presence felt immediately,” Greensboro manager Callix Crabbe said, noting that Gonzalez homered. “The next day he hit another homer.”
Gonzalez has four homers so far in Greensboro, and three have come away from the bandbox that is Greensboro’s home park. That’s an encouraging sign, especially since his above average raw power has yet to translate into games.
The Pirates added Gonzalez in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft this past December. He was added from the San Francisco Giants, who drafted him in the second round in 2017. Jacob is the son of former MLB outfielder Luis Gonzalez, and that part has been apparent.
“You can tell he’s been around the game,” said Crabbe. “He understands what winning baseball needs to look like. It needs to look like putting pressure on a pitcher, and making him make a quality pitch and spoiling the pitcher’s best pitches. He has a knack for doing that. It’s quite impressive to watch him battle through an at-bat.”
The offense has been impressive from Gonzalez. He’s repeating High-A this season, after posting a .502 OPS last year. The offensive numbers have definitely taken a big step forward, and should carry him to Altoona by the end of the year.
Gonzalez has been working on his defense at first base, which is a newer position for him. He played 18 games at the position in 2019, and spent a lot of time in the Complex League last year playing first. Gonzalez has previously played third, but the Pirates are using him exclusively at first.
“There’s some footwork issues that he’s going to have to work through,” said Crabbe. “Did a really good job the past week on picking balls in the dirt. He’s going to have to continue to improve in that space.”
Overall, Gonzalez has impressed with his bat, and will be a guy to watch to see how long he can maintain this pace.
“I like him, man,” said Crabbe. “He just knows how to get hits. It’s not the perfect swing, but you don’t need the perfect swing. You need someone who knows how to control the pace of the at-bat, and win, and he has the ability to do that.”