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Gonzalez shows flashes in deepest outing

Phillies No. 14 prospect tosses 5 1/3 frames, picks up win in Game 2 of twin bill

PHILADELPHIA -- The 2015 season is nearly halfway complete, which means the Phillies should be getting good reads on the players they have in their system.

Severino Gonzalez is one of them. The Phillies named the right-hander their Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2013, and ranks him as the No. 14 prospect in the organization. He picked up the win in Sunday evening's 8-5 victory over the Nationals in Game 2 of a doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park, but the Phillies need to see more from him if he expects to be part of their future.

"A lot of pitchers develop later in their 20s," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "He's in that process. I like the way he attacks the zone. I like the way he pitches quickly. For the most part, he throws strikes. He needs to work on his breaking ball more, and keep the ball down in the zone.

"He's got the potential to be a starter at this level. He's not an ace. I don't think he's a top-of-the-order starter, but he's definitely capable of pitching at this level."

Gonzalez, 22, allowed six hits, four runs, one walk and two home runs, and he struck out seven in 5 1/3 innings against the Nationals. It was the longest outing of his six-start career.

Gonzalez (3-2, 8.28 ERA) had pitched five or more innings in just three of his six starts, which is something that must improve. A big reason why he has not seen the sixth inning is that opponents have hit .500 (30-for-60) against him after they see him for the first time in a game.

They have just a .222 average (10-for-45) the first time through the lineup.

"Unless you're a dominant power pitcher with great stuff, once the hitters see you, they start looking for certain pitches," Mackanin said. "They know what you can do and what you can't do. Seve is not a power pitcher, obviously. He's not a finesse pitcher. He's somewhere in the middle. He's got enough to be a good pitcher, but once again at this level, you've got to be pretty good. You've got to have command of your pitches."

"I've been focusing on that down in Triple-A," Gonzalez said through translator Juan Samuel, when asked about his inability to pitch deep into games. "One thing I've started doing is playing long toss a little bit more to get more strength and stamina on the mound. I've been working on that. I'm aware of it.

"I've learned I need to keep the ball down. The times I've been hurt, pitches have been up. So I need to concentrate more on pitching down and getting a good downward angle on my pitches."

Video: [email protected]: Gonzalez rips a single for his first MLB hit

Gonzalez, who also picked up his first Major League hit and RBI, allowed four consecutive hits in the fourth inning to cut the Phillies lead to 4-3. He then allowed a home run with one out in the sixth inning to Jose Lobaton to cut the lead to 8-4. Mackanin pulled him after that.

Gonzalez, who got the start because of Saturday's rainout, was optioned to Triple-A afterward.

"It's a learning experience for him," Mackanin said. "He's got guts. He's not afraid."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.
Read More: Philadelphia Phillies, Severino Gonzalez