Slugging White Sox prospect splitting time in infield

June 7th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Scott Merkin's White Sox Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

CHICAGO -- plays three games at shortstop and three games at second base during each six-game series since being promoted to Double-A Birmingham, splitting time with Brooks Baldwin, who leads the Southern League with a .352 average.

But the No. 7 White Sox prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, and the team’s top pick in the 2023 Draft still has his target set on full-time work at shortstop.

“I feel like it’s good to show that I can play both positions, because you never know whatever is going to get you to the big leagues the fastest,” Gonzalez said recently. “Luckily, I grew up playing second base, and I didn’t start playing shortstop until I was a sophomore in high school.

“It’s fun to go back to second and show that I can play there. But I want to be a shortstop. I can see myself doing it for a long time.”

The 22-year-old’s first season within the White Sox organization featured a slash line of .211/.333/.260 between stops at the rookie-level Arizona Complex League team and Single-A Kannapolis in 2023. The team revamped his swing during Instructional League action, earning his adaptation on offense rave reviews from the outset of Spring Training.

That strong praise turned into even stronger results for the one-time standout at Ole Miss. Gonzalez has an overall slash line of .284/.365/.409 between High-A Winston-Salem and Birmingham, with four home runs, 12 doubles, 27 RBIs and 29 runs scored.

His numbers have picked up since going to Birmingham, with a slash line of .308/.368/.431 in 65 at-bats. He feels comfortable with the new approach, adding in a little wider base in his stance so he doesn’t feel as if he’s moving as much.

“It feels normal, what I’m doing now,” said Gonzalez, who has played 10 games at shortstop with the Barons after playing 34 there with the Dash. “I just need to execute a little better. It just feels good to feel good at the plate. I’m giving myself the best chance to succeed.

“My direction was going towards first base as I was starting my swing. I was shifting toward first and moving toward the first-base dugout, and it was fixing my direction to go toward the pitcher and stay balanced. Having my weight all on my back leg.”

Gonzalez won’t classify this success as playing at his best. He pointed to missing mistake pitches too frequently early in the count since going to Birmingham, and then getting to two strikes in the count too often.

“I’m fortunate to be decently good at two-strike hitting. But it’s gotten up to where I’m striking out more than I normally do,” Gonzalez said. “I just needed to fix those misses earlier in the count.

“I just do what I do to the best of my ability. Hopefully one day soon, it’s going to be in the big leagues and keep doing what I do. I’m going to be ready for whenever they want me to be ready. Whenever they think, whether it’s tomorrow or next year, I’ll be ready either way.”

Triple-A Charlotte
Bryan Ramos, the No. 5 White Sox prospect, is 9-for-30 with the Knights since he was optioned from the big league team.

“Early on, he competed, and that's one thing that's going to take him a long way,” White Sox hitting coach Marcus Thames said. “He's been through so much adversity in his life off the field, and it's going to help him on the field. If he just keeps working, he's going to be fine.”

High-A Winston-Salem
Wes Kath, the team’s second-round pick in the 2021 Draft, has flexed his muscles early on this year for the Dash, hitting seven homers and eight doubles to go along with his 21 RBIs. Riley Gowens leads the Dash with 57 strikeouts over 47 1/3 innings.

Single-A Kannapolis
The Cannon Ballers have won seven straight and hold first place in the Carolina League South. Outfielder George Wolkow, the No. 14 White Sox prospect and seventh-round pick in the 2023 Draft, had his first homer in Single-A on Thursday.