I have been thinking about doing this for a little while but have not had the time. I am a Phillies fan and a fan of Gio Gonzalez. In my head I've always grouped Gio with Scott Kazmir. So, here is my amateurish comparison.
As of today, May 30 2006, Gio Gonzalez has appeared in 47 minor league games. Scott Kazmir appeared in a total of 49 minor league games.
Gio was selected 38th overall (1st supp) in the 2004 draft. His scouting report from MLB.com called him a "YOUNG LHP W/ ELECTRIC STUFF. PITCHES AT 90-92, 93-94 WHEN NEEDED & A HAMMER FOR A CB. GOES AFTER HITTERS." It also notes that he has a "3/4 ARM" & a "HIGH LEG KICK"
Scott was selected with the 15th pick (1st round) in the 2002 draft. His scouting report from MLB.com said "Three-quarter arm angle, high leg kick and lightning-quick, live arm. 91-93 fastball jumps out of hand, explodes at plate."
In his career, Gio appeared in 7 games in Rookie ball, 17 games in Low A, 13 games in High A, and 10 games at AA.
Scott started 23 games at low A, 18 games at High A, and 8 games at AA.
Their age for each level has been pretty much the same (or about as similar as you can expect). They were both 18 when they pitched their first game, spent most of their 19 yr old year between Low A and High A, and spent most of their 20 yr old year at AA (except Scott was promoted to the majors later in the season).
Here are their career minor league statistics:
(W-L, IP, ERA, WHIP)
Gio 17-13, 247.1, 2.73, 1.12
Scott 9-12, 228.1, 2.40, 1.12
Some of the more telling statistics:
(H/9inn, BB/9inn, K/9inn)
Gio 6.66, 3.46, 10.73
Scott 6.42, 3.67, 11.15
They are also built similar (according to Sportsline.com):
Gio 5'11 180 (Left-handed in case you didn't know)
Scott 6'0 170 (Also a lefty)
Not suprisingly, they have had similar questions about their durability as a starter.
Most scouts view Gio as a #1-#3 in the majors. I believe his fastball is above average (for a lefty at least) with his curve being his best pitch. According to BaseballAmerica.com, his changeup is progressing but is average.
Kazmir, on the other hand, was always highly regarded and believed to be a future #1. His fastball is above average as well, but he teams it with a "nasty" slider and changeup that both rate as plus pitches.
It is also interesting to note that both of these guys were traded at around the same time in their career. Gio as part of a package for Jim Thome and Kazmir in the fabled Victor Zambrano deal.
The minor league numbers, including age at each level, are remarkably similar. The biggest difference, occurs in W-L, which is a pretty useless stat in my book. There is also a slight difference in innings pitched per appearance, where Gio has pitched an average of 5.26 inn per appearance (including two relief appearances) and Scott only pitched 4.86 inn per appearance (all starts). That is almost certainly attributable to differing organizational philosophies, and should not hold much weight. It also gives a reasonable explanation to Kazmir's lower win totals. If he's not allowed to pitch five innings, he wont get the win. To me, the biggest difference between these two lies in their stuff.
Both have plus velocity for lefties, sitting in the low 90's with the ability to hit the mid 90's when needed. Both exhibited similar control in the minors (at least so far for Gio). I believe Kaz tops out a little higher than Gio so I'll give him a slight advantage, but it is close.
Gio's curve is a plus pitch. According to BA "(despite a good fastball) his out pitch is a tight curveball he throws in any count." I do not, however, believe it is as good as Kaz's slider. According to BA "A nasty slider with outstanding bite complements his heater, giving him better pure stuff than any young lefty in the game." Again this is close, but I'll give the advantage to Kaz.
To me this pitch is the biggest difference between these two. According to BA, Scott's changeup "has good fade and depth, showing the makings of becoming a third plus pitch." About Gio, on the other hand, they say he has a "decent" changeup.
Overall: So what does this mean...Well, I believe this verifies my grouping of these two guys to some degree. Their minor league numbers have certainly been similar, as is their size. Their stuff is somewhat similar as well, but Scott has a definite advantage. I believe that since the most recent BA scouting report on Kazmir, his changeup has gotten even better and might be his best pitch to righties.
Conclusion: Since one scout dubbed Phillip Hughes as "Mark Prior-Lite," I am now dubbing Gio Gonzalez as "Scott Kazmir-Lite." In other words, they are similar but Gio's stuff is just not as good. But, if he can further develop his changeup, as Kazmir has, he might become one of the better lefties in the game (not named Kazmir).
What do you think of Gio Gonzalez as "Scott Kazmir-Lite"?