The one question on the mind of every Philadelphia Phillies fan today has nothing to do with the health of Cliff Lee’s neck or rumors about who stays and who goes.
Walk down the center of the city today and it is on everyone’s lips, “How good is this Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez guy?”
The Phillies, as an organization, evidently believe he is very good because they committed a reported six years, $48 million with $12 million in bonuses that have to be earned, by far their largest commitment to an international player. He’s good, but how good?
ESPN’s Jayson Stark offers this tidbit via twitter:
Haven’t talked to anyone who doesn’t see Gonzalez as big-league ready now (once he gets some tuneups in). With top-of-rotation potential.
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 27, 2013
Hard to say, because the guy hasn’t pitched against live competition in two years, but the scouts who are paid big money to evaluate these types of issues rate him on the low end as a middle-of-rotation starter to a high end of top-of-the-rotation guy. It’s not like the average fan can look up Gonzalez’s stats against major league hitters and make a determination because the price of his trying to defect from Cuba was being suspended from Cuban competition for the last two seasons.
We do know this, though. In a World Cup where the best players (the ones who want to play) from the United States regularly get spanked, Cuba regularly dominates and Gonzalez was the winning pitcher in the 2011 World Cup Championship game.
Let’s put it this way, Cole Hamels, who was hammered in his last World Cup appearance, got $20.5 million from the club for pitching this year and he’s 4-12.
Former Phillies pitcher Jose Contreras says that Gonzalez is ready both mentally and physically to be an outstanding big league pitcher.
If Contreras and most of the scouts are right, Gonzalez is very, very good. How good will have to be a question determined after Gonzalez steps on the mound a few times at Citizens Bank Park.