Prospect Retrospective: Alex Gonzalez the Marlin
Alex Gonzalez was signed by the Marlins out of Venezuela as a free agent in 1994. Assigned to the Marlins of the Dominican Summer League, he hit just .226/.277/.318 in 54 games for his pro debut. But DSL performance is often not predictive, either in a positive or negative way, and scouts were impressed with his athleticism and defense. At this point a grade would have been a wild guess, but most likely a default Grade C.
Moved up to the Gulf Coast League in 1995, Gonzalez improved greatly, hitting .294/.363/.406 with a higher walk rate. He also impressed with his range and arm strength. I didn't give letter grades to short-season guys back then, but he would have been at least a Grade C+ in retrospect and possibly higher.
1996 was a lost season, as Gonzalez was limited to just 25 games by a shoulder injury that required surgery. But he rebounded quickly in 1997, hitting .254/.302/.434 with 29 homers. The batting average and OBP weren't hot, but the power was impressive for a 20-year-old shortstop in Double-A. I gave him a Grade B+ in the 1998 book, and he was clearly one of the best "projection" prospects in the game.
Moved up to Triple-A in '98, Gonzalez hit .277/.327/.443 with 10 homers and 10 triples for Charlotte. I gave him another Grade B+, writing that it would be "his bat that will determine whether he develops into a star or tops out as merely a decent player." I also wrote that he was similar to the OTHER Alex Gonzalez.
Gonzalez became Florida's every day shortstop in 1999, hitting .277/.308/.430 with 14 homers. His performance since then has been frustrating and erratic, excellent sometimes, quite poor at others. Like the other Alex Gonzalez, he has good power and flashy defensive skills, but he doesn't get on base effectively or hit for average, and has not shown a normal growth curve.
Comparable Non-Active Players to Alex Gonzalez the Marlin
The MOST similar player to Alex Gonzalez the Marlin is, surprise, Alex Gonzalez the Devil Ray. Compare their career marks: .245/.292/.352 for the Marlin, .243/.303/.392 for the Devil Ray. The Marlin has shown slightly less power, but some of that is league/park context. Otherwise they are virtually identical.