Alex Kielar | June 5th, 2020
The Major League Baseball amateur draft will begin on June 10th at 7pm ET. We continue our MLB Draft profiles with infielder Nick Gonzales out of New Mexico State who is ranked as the fifth overall prospect by MLB.com.
Make sure to check out our other MLB Draft profiles here.
Nick Gonzales, 2B/SS, New Mexico State
Weight: 190 lbs
2018 Stats: 57 G, .347/.425/.596, 9 HR, 36 RBI, 40 R, 23 BB, 39 SO, 2 SB
2019 Stats: 55 G, .432/.532/.773, 16 HR, 80 RBI, 80 R, 45 BB, 30 SO, 7 SB
2020 Stats (Prior to cancellation): 16 G, .448/.610/1.155, 12 HR, 36 RBI, 28 R, 21 BB, 10 SO, 4 SB
Cape Cod League Stats (2 Seasons): 45 G, .340/.439/.610, 7 HR, 33 RBI, 40 R, 20 BB, 25 SO, 6 SB
Nick Gonzales was born May 27, 1999, in Vail, Arizona where he was a four-year varsity starter at Cienega High School. Over his high school career, he had a stat line of .399/.514/.632, 7 HR, 89 RBI, 120 R, 64 BB, 36 K, 45 SB while his senior year was his best year with a .543/.632/.876 slash line. He committed to New Mexico State in the fall of 2016 before his senior year even though he had another offer from Austin Peay with a sturdy scholarship and was only given a walk-on opportunity at New Mexico State. But as such an undervalued player out of High School, he wanted to take the chance to prove himself, and he did just that, while he also wanted to be closer to his family.
As you can see in the stats above, Gonzales hit very well in his first two seasons and that gave him the chance to play in the Cape Cod League. He played just three games there following his freshman year, but in the Cape Cod season after his sophomore season, he played in 42 games where he hit well over .300. His solid performance this past summer allowed him to take home the Cape Cod League MVP. His .432 batting average in his sophomore year earned him the batting title and has driven his ranks among the top ten prospects in the upcoming draft.
Check out Gonzales being interviewed at New Mexico State’s Media Day this past January:
Gonzales is one of the top pure and raw talent hitters in this year’s draft class and has the mental push to achieve anything he sets his mind to. He is always looking to learn from failure, if he strikes out he doesn’t get down on himself. He will already figure out what went wrong and look to improve his next at-bat. New Mexico State’s head coach Mike Kirby, who took over the program last summer, had very high regard for Gonzales.
“I would say of all the players that I’ve ever coached, he’s by far the most mature, disciplined,” Kirby said. “It’s not close.”
Even though Kirby only coached him for a short amount of time, it didn’t take him long to realize the special talent that Gonzales is. He has coached plenty of future major leaguers so he knows talent when he sees it. Everywhere the recently turned 21-year old has gone, he has been doubted and he has had to prove himself. When he hit over .500 his senior year of high school, scouts wondered about the lesser competition he was facing in the Tuscon, Arizona area and they wanted to see him in college.
Then he had to be a walk-on at New Mexico State, and when he put up very good numbers his first two seasons, people still questioned the competition and that he was playing in the high-altitude New Mexico. But just like when people always doubt the numbers of Colorado Rockies players like Larry Walker and DJ LeMahieu, he pretty much put that argument to rest. Gonzales slashed .351/.451/.630 in the Cape Cod League last summer while taking home MVP honors and this all but solidified a top ten selection in the draft.
Gonzales has a short and compact swing with elite bat speed and a very good ability to control his swing through the strike zone. He is an offensive-minded infielder with raw abilities that can be more tapped into with more work. He has average speed but is smart enough on the bases to not be a liability.
Much like another top hitter in this class, Austin Martin, Gonzales isn’t that strong, so he doesn’t have much power. With his compact frame, he projects to be more of a doubles hitter. He did hit seven homers with a wood bat at Cape Cod. There is certainly more room for him to tap into more power as well. He doesn’t offer much on the defensive side, but he is still average with a 50 grade for fielding and arm. He is seen by scouts to not have the arm or the range to play shortstop, meaning he will most likely get stuck at second. Gonzales is a very strong draft prospect with not too many holes in his game.
I have seen many people comparing Gonzales to Milwaukee Brewers’ second baseman Keston Hiura, but maybe just to be different I see a comparison to Whit Merrifield of the Kansas City Royals. While Merrifield wasn’t drafted until the ninth round in the 2010 MLB Draft by the Royals, he is a solid pure hitter with the ability to hit to all fields and not much power. He, like Gonzales, hits for average and is not that strong at second base. Merrifield does have a stronger arm and can play the outfield as well. The Royals were going to move him to center for this season before COVID-19 putting things on hold.
Draft Projection: Round 1 Pick 6 Seattle Mariners
The Mariners have just one second baseman in their top 30 prospects and the second basemen on their current roster are Dee Gordon, Sam Haggerty, Shed Long, and Tim Lopes, who are nothing to write home about. Gonzales would give the Mariners farm system a huge boost. He is someone with a pretty short track to the majors. He could be an option for the Blue Jays at the fifth pick, but since they already have Cavan Biggio at the position, I think they will go the pitching route, where they are severely lacking; and that’s putting it lightly.
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