With the seventh overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Nick Gonzales, a middle infielder out of New Mexico State.
Gonzales played a lot of second base for the Aggies. For the Pirates though, he will have the opportunity to stick at shortstop.
The true value of Gonzales begins and ends with his bat. In 128 career college games, the 21-year-old hit .399/.502/.747 with 37 home runs. During this past shortened season, Gonzales hit 12 home runs in 16 games. Don’t get too excited about the stats though. Most of these games were played in the not so elite Western Athletic Conference.
Defense may be an issue in the future and in all likelihood, Gonzales won’t be able to stay at shortstop longterm. If he rakes though, it won’t matter what position he plays.
What I like about the pick
I couldn’t care less that Gonzales almost hit .400 in college. I could not care less about the home runs. What I love is his ability to get on base. During his college career, Gonzales walked (89) more times than he struck out (79). He got on base in more than 50 percent of his plate appearances. He had a true feel for the strike zone. Moving forward into his pro career, it will be interesting to see how his plate discipline evolves.
In my mind, the best-case scenario for Gonzales in the future is to be a guy who can have a .400 on-base percentage with 20+ home run power. Being that he was a walk-on turned college superstar, Gonzales has proven that he has the drive to succeed.
Rest of the draft
After Gonzales, the Pirates went with five pitchers, Carmen Mlodzinski (University of South Carolina), Jared Jones (La Mirada HS), Nick Garcia (Chapman University), Jack Hartman (Appalachian State), and Logan Hofmann (Northwestern State).
All of these pitchers are right-handed. They all throw pretty hard. It seems as though these arms have high ceilings. Perhaps some will end up in the bullpen (Hartman was a reliever in college). Some will also be busts. Such is life in the MLB Draft. If one of these guys pop and turn into a top of the rotation prospect, consider this draft a success.
All in all, I believe that Ben Cherington did a nice job of adding new talent to a farm system that desperately needed it.