In 2023, no Red Sox pitching prospect took a bigger leap than Wikelman Gonzalez. After a rough first month of the season at High-A Greenville, Gonzalez gathered himself in a big way and continued the momentum after his promotion to Double-A Portland.
Since MLB Pipeline has position players in the first eight slots of Boston's Top 30 prospects list, Gonzalez is the highest-ranked pitcher at No. 9.
Last year was a huge year for Gonzalez due to his ability to come out of a slow start by improving his sleeping routine, nutrition and focus between starts.
For the coming season, the hope is that the Venezuelan righty inches closer to earning a ticket to Boston, where he could join a fellow international signee who has recently prospered for the Red Sox in Brayan Bello.
MLB.com’s David Venn caught up with Gonzalez at the MLB/MLBPA Rookie Program in Scottsdale, Ariz., last week, and here is that Q&A.
MLB.com: First of all, in 2023, you had kind of a tough start. Later on, you pitched better with some of the help of the coaches and things like that. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Gonzalez: Yes, at the beginning of the season, I didn’t have good starts because of a few things. Part of it was that I wasn’t sleeping well. I had a lot of things on my mind. After I made a change to my routine, that helped me have a good season, thank God.
MLB.com: So you started to do new things. Can you share with us a little what those new things were?
Gonzalez: More than anything, it was starting to sleep a little, because that’s what I wasn’t doing, and having good nutrition, and trying to forget some things that happened in the games. And really, I focused on working a little more between starts, which was one of the things that I changed. I started to focus more, and the results started to get better after I started that. Things turned out better from there, and I was able to maintain my focus for the rest of the season.
MLB.com: Because you had some really good numbers at Double-A Portland, how did you feel afterwards? Pitching much better and moving up a level at the same time?
Gonzalez: That felt really good. I think what really helped me is what I was doing at Greenville and taking it to Double-A, and I was able to keep the streak going there.
MLB.com: So speaking of Portland, you’ll probably start 2024 in Double-A, but at some point the goal is Triple-A Worcester. The question is, how do you see your trajectory for 2024? And of course, how much do you want to make your big league debut at some point?
Gonzalez: I’ve always said that God’s time is perfect. I know that everything He’ll put in front of me, whether it is good or whatever, I have to take advantage of it. And the opportunity that the team gives me, wherever I start, I’ll take it well and continue with my focus always when it’s time to pitch and not changing anything [from last year]. I’ve got to maintain what I’ve done while focusing on my routine and working hard in the gym. I think that’s going to help me moving forward this year.
MLB.com: I’ve seen your quotes, how you talk about your friendship with Brayan Bello. What’s your relationship with him like, and how much do you want to be in the Boston rotation at the same time as him at some point?
Gonzalez: The truth is I’d feel great with that, because I’ve spent a lot of time with Bello. Not as much anymore because he moved up and I can’t spend time with him now. But I’ve always gotten along well with him and had good communication. We don’t talk too much by phone or things like that, but in person, yeah, we’ve talked a lot.