Before the start of the 2024 season, is evaluating several noteworthy prospects in the Boston Red Sox organization, using insight and analysis from industry experts to gauge each player’s outlook for the upcoming campaign. Next up: Wikelman Gonzalez.

Developing pitching internally has been a major theme of the offseason for the Boston Red Sox.

Chief baseball officer Craig Breslow leads a new regime on the mound alongside pitching coach Andrew Bailey and director of pitching Justin Willard. Those developments for the Red Sox are not limited. In fact, the roots for improvement have to be laid in the farm system.

While the Red Sox affiliates are currently loaded with position-player talent, there are a few arms with intriguing potential. Wikelman Gonzalez fits in that category.

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Could Boston have another young starter on a path to the big leagues in the near future?

Here’s everything you need to know on the soon-to-be 22-year-old pitching prospect for the Red Sox.

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Gonzalez joined the Red Sox in 2018 as an international free-agent signing, rising as a potential productive arm in the years since.

The right-hander did not pitch much until 2021. That season, he offered a solid preview of what he could become, striking out 66 hitters in 52 2/3 innings between rookie ball and High-A.

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After an inconsistent 2022 season where he posted a 4.21 ERA, Gonzalez made significant progress in 2023 in a year where he reached Double-A. Despite posting an ERA over 5.00 in 15 starts with High-A, the Red Sox showed faith in his growth and still promoted him to Double-A with the Portland Sea Dogs. The righty rewarded Boston for the promotion, recording 2.42 ERA in 10 starts while striking out nearly 12 batters per nine innings.

Gonzalez’s shining moment came in July when he tossed the first six innings of a combined no-hitter, showing the potential of his electric stuff on the mound.

Likely starting the year in Double-A, Gonzalez looks to pick up where he left off in his Red Sox development.

Scouting Report
Gonzalez certainly has the stuff to compete with a high-velocity fastball and a quality mix of secondary pitches. For the Red Sox prospect, strike-throwing is priority No. 1 in 2024 to take the next step.

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“He doesn’t need to be in-zone all the time, he just has to be closer to the zone,” Baseball America’s Geoff Pontes told “Less non-competitive pitches is the big thing for him. He can take that step.”

“I think Wikelman made some really nice in-season adjustments, especially when he got up to Double-A, which allowed him to take that step forward,” Ian Cundall of told recently. “… How many strikes are you throwing? What is the quality of your strikes? That’s going to be the limiting factor, especially with Gonzalez. He’s got that big fastball. He’s got a solid curveball. He’s got that changeup that was a little better. He started mixing in a cutter last year, too. So, he’ll show four pitches.”

Gonzalez is going to be high-strikeout arm for the Red Sox as his development progresses as his swing-and-miss ability is by far is best trait on the mound. Ultimately, being a consistent strike-thrower will decide the ceiling on Gonzalez. Over the last two seasons, Gonzalez has walked 4.9 and 5.7 batters per nine innings respectively. If he can find the plate on a more consistent basis, his stuff will take care of the rest.

“That’s the area where he’s going to need to take the biggest step forward,” Cundall added. “Because the raw stuff is there. The bat-missing ability is there.”

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Most-likely scenario: Bullpen arm
Gonzalez does not have a big frame, standing at six-foot and weighing under 170 pounds. As a result, he may not have the physical durability to be a starter in the long term. If that ends up being the case, his stuff could dominate in the bullpen in a more specific role.

“I think thus is a big year for him to show that if he can get his control to even fringy to average, that gives him a a decent chance to start,” Cundall said. “If not, you’re looking at a potential bullpen weapon.”

Best-case scenario: Mid-rotation starter
If Gonzalez can throw strikes consistently and stay physically durable to shoulder a starter’s workload, he absolutely has the raw potential to compete as a starter against MLB hitters.

He may not be the arm in the rotation that consistently pitches deep into games, but Gonzalez can certainly dominate for the innings he does provide for the Red Sox.

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“If he goes five innings and gives you good strikeout numbers, I think he’s got that in him,” Pontes shared.

Fenway forecast:
Pontes believes that Gonzalez is in a similar position to where Brayan Bello was to start the 2022 season. Bello eventually progressed through the final two levels of the minors that year to make his big-league debut with the Red Sox that summer.

Gonzalez may need some more time to hone his command, so reaching the majors before the end of 2024 may be a stretch. With that said, Gonzalez could fight for a roster spot next spring and is likely a year ahead of fellow prominent pitching prospect Luis Perales in terms of development, as Cundall discussed.

“Wikelman’s definitely further ahead,” Cundall assessed. “He obviously spent a decent portion (of the season) in Double-A last year, and I would say he will get up to Triple-A this year.”

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SoxProspects ranking: No. 9
Gonzalez could be higher on this eventually. For now, Boston’s influx of talented position players that will be the future core of the franchise dominate the list in front of Gonzalez for the Red Sox.

For now, the quality of Gonzalez’s stuff keeps him among the top 10 as one of the most coveted pitchers in the Red Sox system.

Featured image via Chris Cameron