Why is Nick Gonzales Struggling to Make Contact?

ALTOONA, Pa. - We might be starting to finally see the real Nick Gonzales.

Two years after being drafted by the Pirates with the seventh overall pick, Gonzales is making his way back from his latest injury.

This time, his plantar fascia was torn in half, after coming down wrong on the first base bag.

Last year, he dealt with a broken pinky.

The injuries aren't in a nature that would make Gonzales "injury prone". They have prevented him from developing his game.

"I want to play more than 40 games at a time," Gonzales said.

Prior to the injury this year, Gonzales was starting to make some adjustments with his swing. Originally drafted due to his strong ability to make contact, Gonzales opened the season in Altoona hitting for a low average, with a high strikeout rate.




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This was not a great day to do this article drop, when we are watching Grissom and Harris (21 yr olds) raking at the MLB level, while our #1 draft pick 2 years ago is struggling with swing flaws at AA. No, just not in the mood for this right now.


I was thinking exactly the same thing. Perhaps we’re paranoid!


Great series.


I’m still a believer and expect him to have a monster year next year.


Can he repeat the AFL?


Will he be encouraged to go to winter ball?


That would be good if he can get some playing time this winter. The good news is it seems that he does have the ability to recognize issues and has made adjustments. The ability to adjust is necessary in the majors as the pitchers will definitely adjust to how they are pitching you. Oneil will tell him so. At least it sounds like Oneil is working on his own issues. Hope he figures it out sooner than later or his sake


It doesn’t look like Cruz is working on his issues lol


He has been said to be taking a lot of extra BP. That is only part of it. 1st time in the Bigs and pitchers do know how to sequence their pitches and it takes experience on the hitter’s part to be able to recognize pitches and to adjust to how he is being pitched. As I said, I hope he starts figuring things out sooner than later.


Hopefully he’s using pitching machines to spin him high level offspeed pitches in sequence or something to similar to simulate real game scenarios


I am sure he is. I remember one of the fine writers here writing about the use of said equipment back in spring training. Will take him some time if he does it right. Has to not only learn to recognize the pitches quicker but also has to experience how pitchers sequence pitches in game situations to set up the at bat. Most all if not all big league pitchers will do that. In the Minors, less do that, especially in the lower levels where most of his experience is. I also remember reading either here or hearing on a post game show where he has to get out the habit of assuming that he can make good contact with most any pitch that is thrown to him. Whoever was giving the analysis said that he got into that bad habit in the minors and he pretty much could do that as he was working through the minors. Pitchers are much better in the Bigs with the ability to put more spin on the ball and therefore more movement on the pitch. He is learning how much harder it is to get to many of the pitches.


No offense, I just hear a bunch of excuses as to why he needs to be doing this in the show. I don’t buy it, this aspect of development isn’t exclusive to the MLB only. The dude has issues, and he has just put out a ton of bad tape for all to see. This will make any adjustments that much more harder to fix. Bottom line, he wasn’t/ isn’t ready.

Last edited 1 month ago by Anthony

I’m wanting to be optimistic, but you might be right. This episode is reminding me of Gregory Polanco who probably wasn’t ready either. It would be a shame if that’s the way the Cruz situation plays out.


Depends upon the issue. If his biggest issue is learning to hit the more talented MLB it makes no sense to put him back in AAA where he was hitting well before his promotion. Just like pitchers who can light up the minors because of either stuff or velocity but does not know how to “pitch” to get MLB hitters out can’t really learn how to get MLB hitters out by facing AAA guys who are not as good as the MLB hitters. I would probably feel different if the Bucs were in position compete right now and he was killing the team but since they are not competing why not let him learn what he needs to learn by facing MLB pitchers daily? He has to learn to adjust to MLB pitching.


The development staff should be tuned in enough to spot these weaknesses beforehand, that IS their job. Just looking at minor league stats is a form of “resulting” and a good process does not rely on this approach. You either have a third pitch or you don’t, you can either hit a back foot slider or you can’t.


Good traits to have, Guys like that seem to be able to get the most out of whatever ability that they possess if they can stay healthy enough. Will be interesting to watch how he progresses between now and mid season next year.


I agree, I really love to hear this. Clearly all these guys are talented, but a strong makeup like this can be the difference between the MLB and AAA imo. He and hank both seem to have this trait, so I have no doubt if their problems are something to be worked through, then they will do it

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