Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Welcome to the Blue, Tony Gonsolin!

As I'm sure you've heard by now, the Dodgers are expected to call up pitching prospect Tony Gonsolin and he will be pitching Wednesday's game in Arizona -- replacing Rich Hill in the rotation. BTW, Ron Cervenka at Think Blue LA was first with this news yesterday.

Tony Gonsolin is a 6' 3" right-hander with long dark-brown locks, sideburns and a 70's era mustache. He is 25-years-old and is currently 1-1 with an 2.77 ERA, 1.269 WHIP, 31 strikeouts at Oklahoma City this year. Last year, Gonsolin was the Dodgers' Branch Rickey Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award winner. You can follow him on twitter: @goooose15. Per Rowan Kavner at Dodger Insider:
Gonsolin went 10–2 with a 2.60 ERA in 26 combined starts between Single-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa. After his promotion to Tulsa, he was 6–0 with a 2.44 ERA, striking out 49 batters in 44 1/3 innings. 
The 24-year-old split time as an outfielder and a pitcher before transitioning full-time to pitching with the Dodgers. This was his first season as a starting pitcher, understanding how to use everything in his mix. 
“I learned just by getting put in the fire,” Gonsolin said.
So, what can the man, who's hairdo reminds us of a time when take-out slides and purpose pitches were the norm, do on the mound? Check out MLB Pipeline's prospect report on him below. BTW, they rank him as the Dodgers fourth best prospect.
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 60 | Slider: 50 | Splitter: 70 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50 
Gonsolin starred as a two-way player at St. Mary's, leading the Gaels in batting (.308) as a sophomore, steals (12) and saves (seven) as a junior and saves again (six) as a senior. Though the Dodgers liked his tools as an outfielder, they preferred him as a pitcher and have seen him consistently improve since he moved full-time to the mound after signing for $2,500 as a ninth-rounder in 2016. His stuff took off in his first full season as a pro and continued to impress after he shifted from the bullpen to the rotation in 2018, when he topped the system in wins (10), ERA (2.60) and strikeouts (155 in 128 innings). 
Gonsolin began 2017 with an 88-92 mph fastball but was hitting 100 by the end of that season, and he operated at 93-97 mph as a starter in '18 while maintaining his velocity into the late innings. His upper-80s splitter devastates hitters with the way it dives at the plate, and his low-80s curveball has become a consistent plus offering with nice shape. He also uses a mid-80s slider to give hitters a different look. 
The athleticism that helped Gonsolin thrive as a two-way player in college also allows him to throw strikes on a regular basis. He still needs to refine his command, and Los Angeles would like to see him work inside and up in the zone more with his fastball. He has progressed from senior sign to potential No. 3 starter rapidly, and he could be a multi-inning relief weapon this year for a Dodgers club loaded with starters.
Below are some articles about Tony that I wanted to pass along:
Brandon Gomes on Gonsolin: “Tony was outstanding all year. He has four above-average pitches, and was up to 100 (mph) in 2017, so we wanted to see if he would want to start. Tony was excited about the idea and we stretched him out during spring training.
“His fastball has strong ride. He maintained mid-90s velocity as a starter, which can be attributed to his attention to detail and excellent work ethic, and his ability to land multiple off-speed pitches in the zone is unique. His split/change is a wipeout pitch. He also features an upper-80s/low-90s slider, as well as a plus curveball. 
“Tony mixes fastball/offspeed at a 50/50 clip, making him unpredictable. We liken his profile to a Ross Stripling-type pitcher where he can be utilized in many different valuable roles.”
Gonsolin has a legitimate 4-pitch mix that has made it more likely he’s going to stick in the rotation rather than moving to the bullpen. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and has touched 100 MPH, but that was in relief a couple seasons ago. His velo held deeper into his outings to the point where it’s the norm. He’s able to locate it all around the strike zone. He has three offspeed pitches, with his curveball being the one that misses bats the most. It’s a high-70s/low-80s pitch with a lot of depth. His mid-80s slider is the “worst” of the four pitches, but it’s a different look than any of his other offerings, so I suspect he’d use it sparingly. HIs high-80s splitter/changeup combination has serious diving action that gets some swings and misses and generates weak contact. He’s becoming more and more comfortable with the pitch and will throw it in any count.
“You know it’s funny - I’m still kicking myself - I had Tony Gonsolin ranked in the 2018 handbook,” Glaser said. “I had gotten good reports, he was touching 99 mph out of the bullpen at Rancho Cucamonga. But the Dodgers player development staff at the time actually said, ‘We don’t really see him as one of our top 30 guys, there are probably some other guys to put in there,’ so I took him out to my everlasting regret because I had him.”
“I was surprised that he led the entire system in ERA,” Glaser said, “I thought he’d be good, but he even exceeded my expectations.” 
“Knowing that you have that high-90s fastball and there’s a breaking ball in place, the fact that he went into the rotation, developed the split change and kind of became what he became,” Glaser said, “it wasn’t a shock to me to see him have some success. Again, the level of success was probably even more than I anticipated.” 
“He’s another example of that 2016 draft that the Dodgers really nailed. Their ability to pick up some guys in that draft that have been able to use in trades or homegrown development - it has really helped keep their system a premium system even after graduating Seager, Bellinger, Buehler in consecutive years. Most teams would find themselves at the bottom of the rankings if they did that.”
In celebration of Gonsolin's ascension, I made three fantasy custom Baseball cards of him. Check those out above.

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