Astros’ Prospect to Watch: Outfielder Richi Gonzalez
Jake Meyers has already made a large impact on the 2021 Houston Astros since being promoted from the Triple-A Sugar Land Skeeters to the major-league Houston Astros. Many casual fans around the league were a little surprised by the play of Meyers, who seemingly came out of nowhere.
However, a regular MLB season is long and full of nuance. A lot fans find it difficult to keep up with the day-to-day development of a baseball organization’s farm system on top of being faithful to 162 regular season and the handful of stressful postseason games.
Starting this week, I thought it would be great to roll out my “Astros Prospect to Watch” series. Many of the Astros’ faithful are well aware of Korey Lee, Forrest Whitley and Pedro León at this point.
So, I wanted to put something together to highlight the players without a ton of fanfare. Players who aren’t necessarily cracking Baseball America’s Top 100 MLB Prospect list real soon. And, just because the Astros are ranked twenty-ninth of thirty MLB teams in organizational talent, the organization still has some exciting and talented players working their way through the system.
While the Astros’ farm system hasn’t highly ranked, Richi Gonzalez could continue to fly under the radar.
This week I will be highlighting Richi Gonzalez, an outfielder currently assigned to the rookie-level affiliate Florida Complex League Astros. Gonzalez, an 18-year-old native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, didn’t garner a ton of attention during the international signing period in 2019.
In fact, he wasn’t even mentioned in MLB.com’s Top 30 International Prospects of 2019. Nor, did he crack the Astros’ MLB Pipeline report that was recently updated. However, according to international scouts, he has a ton of athleticism to bring to both sides of the diamond.
After signing a contract for $310,000, Gonzalez really started to make an impression on the organization playing in the Dominican Instructional League in 2019. However, his professional debut had to be put on hold after the entire minor league season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Obviously, it was not optimal for a rookie that young to miss a whole season of developmental experience. Gonzalez was finally able to join the Houston Astros’ rookie-league affiliate, the Florida Complex League Astros in June of 2021.
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We’ve only seen 26 games for the young Dominican this season. He is slashing a weak .148/.274/.259 with two home runs and three doubles. Frankly, it is pretty pointless to try to discern anything from a small sample size that is likely been impacted by the long lay-off, adjustment to leagues, etc.
In my opinion, Gonzalez possesses some of the best raw tools in the Astros farm system right now. With a 6-foot-3 and 185-pound frame, Gonzalez has a mix of strength and speed. Gonzalez has plus speed, having a 60-yard dash time comparable to Alex Bregman’s.
He also posses a plus arm from centerfield that could develop into a plus-plus arm as his body continues to grow and fill out. Gonzalez has a long swing, but shown average power that has been trending upward. This has allowed him to drive the ball to the deepest parts of the field.
I would keep an eye on this young fella as he finally gets a crack at MiLB experience. Not only is he still physically maturing, but he already posses some really strong tools. Should he able to shorten his swing and learn to hit pitches of the high-spin flavor that’s taking the MLB/MiLB by storm, he should move up the Astros’ organizational ranks rather quickly.