Today we are going to take a look at the first middle infield prospect in our 2020 Major League Baseball Draft Scouting Report Series by taking a deeper dive into New Mexico State’s Nick Gonzales. He is rated as the #5 prospect in the draft by both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline, while Fangraphs has him rated as the #6 prospect in the draft.
The 2018 Season
Undrafted out of high school, Nick Gonzales was unheralded to the point that he was a walk-on at New Mexico State despite hitting .600 in his senior year of high school. He was impressive, though, and earned a spot in the every day lineup as a freshman. In the very hitter friendly confines at New Mexico State, he put up big numbers – hitting .347/.425/.596 as a freshman with 17 doubles, two triples, and nine home runs. In the field he was playing second base and showed himself just fine at the position.
The 2019 Season
After a very strong freshman season for Nick Gonzales, it was the sophomore season that really put him on the map. While the context is still needed given the hitting environment, he put up an absurd .432/.532/.773 line in 55 games for the Aggies. That line came with 19 doubles, four triples, 16 home runs, 45 walks, and just 30 strikeouts.
Following the college baseball season, he headed out to the Cape Cod League. Things were more of the same in a very different hitting environment for Gonzales. Over the 42 games he played in he hit .351/.451/.630 with 20 walks and 22 strikeouts. That led to his winning the Most Valuable Player in the league and cementing him as one of the top draft prospects entering the next season.
The 2020 Season
Imagine a video game. Now imagine setting the skill level on easy. That’s about what it was like for Nick Gonzales in the first 16 games of the 2020 college baseball season. The right-handed hitter hit .448 with 21 walks, leading to a .610 on-base percentage. Oh yeah, he also slugged 1.155 thanks to 12 home runs in 16 games to go along with three doubles and a triple. Small sample size and all thanks to the world catching on fire, but Gonzales posted a 1.765 OPS during the truncated season.
After playing second base in his first two seasons at New Mexico State, as a junior Nick Gonzales slid over to the other side of the bag and logged 14 starts at shortstop.
Nick Gonzales College Stats
Nick Gonzales Video
Nick Gonzales Scouting Report
Height: 5′ 10″ | Weight: 190 lbs.
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
When it comes to Nick Gonzales things start with his bat. If he had one more hit, instead of an out, at New Mexico State during his career he would have hit over .400 for his college career. Instead he finishes at .399 for his career. His hit tool is the best tool he’s got and it rates out as a plus tool. It’s a carrying tool if it plays out to that plus grade. It’s not just the hit tool, though. Gonzales has a little bit of pop in his bat, too. While the 12 home runs in 16 games is outrageous and completely out of line with what scouts believe his power is – he projects to have average to slightly above-average power at his peak. Most places project his speed to be average in the future, while noting he’s slightly above-average right now.
Defensively is where things do get a bit interesting. As noted, this season Nick Gonzales began to play shortstop. For the most part, scouts think he’s stretched at the position where his arm and first step aren’t ideal. The bat, and how quickly it could be ready, could also just make it easier to keep him at second base and move him up the chain more quickly as there would be less of a need for development and time there.
Where the concern could be
The stats in college are insane for Nick Gonzales, but he’s always played in some of the best hitting environments in all of college baseball. That does always bring up questions of just how good he actually was hitting. That said, tearing up the Cape Cod League helped a lot to quiet some of the concerns about just how much he could hit. Perhaps the bigger question is whether or not he remains on the infield. While most sources believe he’s capable to handle second base, Fangraphs report does note that there are at least some questions as to whether or not Gonzales winds up in the outfield.