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MLB Rookie Profile: Erik Gonzalez, INF, Cleveland Indians

Versatile glove with occasional pop makes Erik Gonzalez a strong bench option

Cincinnati Reds v Cleveland Indians Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images

Today the Cleveland Indians promoted rookie Erik Gonzalez to the major league roster. Let’s take a look at what he offers.

The Indians signed Gonzalez out of the Dominican Republic in May of 2009. He did not attract much attention outside of Cleveland circles until 2014 when he combined to hit .309/.352/.428 between High-A and Double-A. He had a good year in Triple-A in 2016, hitting .296/.329/.450, then received a brief trial in the majors last season (16 at-bats) and performed well.

Gonzalez was ranked at Number 13 with a Grade B- on the pre-season Cleveland Indians Top 20 prospects for 2017 list with the following comment:

13) Erik Gonzalez, SS, Grade B-: Age 25, hit .296/.329/.450 with 31 doubles, 11 homers, 12 steals, 19 walks, 88 strikeouts in 429 at-bats in Triple-A; hit .313 in 16 major league at-bats; excellent throwing arm, above-average speed, tools clear if you see him play; has power too but very aggressive approach could hamper OBP in the majors; versatile with the glove, can play infield as well as outfield without hurting you, could make very good super-utility player despite OBP questions; ETA 2017.

He was at .269/.293/.455 with Triple-A Columbus before today’s promotion.

Gonzalez is a right-handed hitter, born August 31, 1991, listed at 6-3, 195. He’s impressive in person, standing out for above-average speed, a strong arm, and obvious wiry athleticism. He can surprise you with his power as well, but he’s never really tamed a very aggressive hitting approach and will chase a lot of pitches outside the strike zone. He’ll kill a mistake, but don’t expect high OBPs.

Defensive versatility is one of his best assets. He can play every field position except catcher. His range isn’t terrific at shortstop but he’s steady and his arm works well at any position including right field.

Although his problems with on-base percentage make him less interesting as a regular, Gonzalez’s combination of speed, occasional power, and defensive versatility makes him an ideal bench option.