After mashing in college, the Royals most recent 17th round pick looks to continue his success throughout the minor leagues.
For all three years of college (two at Seminole State College, one at Florida Gulf Coast) Julio Gonzalez was on another level. His speed and contact skills led him to hit for a high average freshman to junior year. The power wasn’t there, put Gonzalez did play a majority of his college games during his junior year in a tough hitters park at Florida Gulf Coast.
After being selected with the Royals 17th round pick in this summer’s draft, the Puerto Rico native was assigned to the Rookie League Burlington Royals to start his professional career. Gonzalez went 10 for 35 in his first ten games with Burlington, earning himself a promotion to the Idaho Falls Chukars. He played 44 games with with them to finish off his first year. Gonzalez hit .289/.395/.371 between the two leagues.
After the Royals drafted Gonzalez, my initial reaction about him was his plate presence.
“One of my more favorite picks of the draft. Great presence at the plate. All he did was hit in college, with a line of .321/.435/.441. Increased his ISO every year in college.”
Gonzalez had more walks than strikeouts every year in college, tallying up 122 walks and 92 strikeouts in those three years. Quite the ratio. His good plate discipline followed him over to the professional ranks too, as he walked 35 times compared to 33 strikeouts. His 8.7% SwStr% was also in the bottom-third of the Pioneer League.
Gonzalez has a really nice opposite field, line drive approach at the plate thanks to good hand-eye coordination and quick reaction. Put this along with his speed, and Gonzalez should be able to run a high BABIP consistently. The power does lack though (.099 ISO). Gonzalez lacks ideal strength and he tends to hit the ball on the ground often.
The main rave about Gonzalez coming out of college was the glove. He flashes a great combination of range and speed that allows him to excel mightily. He plays both middle infield positions at an above-average level. Gonzalez also logged 99 innings at third base this year. Another plus for him is the baserunning. He is very instinctive and has the speed to steal a fair amount of bags.
With his elite defense and baserunning, Gonzalez doesn’t need to hit very well to be a good player. Think Nicky Lopez (great plate discipline, lacks power, good baserunner, great with the glove). Being a college guy, Gonzalez is already 22 years old, so expect the Royals to push him up the ranks next year. If he can handle the climb, this is a guy to keep an eye on.
Photo Credits: FGCU Athletics