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September 14, 2021 at 12:30 PM

Scout Chatter: Wilkelman Gonzalez, Luis De La Rosa, Nathanael Cruz and Juan Daniel Encarnacion

The Red Sox Florida Coast League and Dominican Summer League teams are in full swing and it's time for another Scout Chatter with reports we've received on those affiliates. The data we’ve collected will be up on the News Page for your reading pleasure before we use it to update player page scouting reports, so forgive any inconsistencies until that point. Today, we focus on the pitchers from the Red Sox Florida Coast League team. 

The best pitcher by far for the FCL squad this summer was right-handed pitcher Wilkelman Gonzalez. The 19-year-old Venezuelan, who signed for $250,000 in July 2018, had 46 strikeouts and only 8 walks, and allowed only 29 hits in 35 innings with a 3.60 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. He was promoted to Salem on August 27th and in three starts there has continued to impress with a 0.66 ERA and 1.10 WHIP with 13 strikeouts and 5 walks in 13.2 innings. Gonzalez was solid at the Fall Instructional League in 2020, but has really taken a step forward this year, especially with the development of his secondary offerings. Gonzalez has been 93-95 mph with his fastball, while his changeup at 86-88 mph has been his best secondary pitch. He has shown the ability to turn it over, and the pitch now projects as above-average at least, when last fall it was his third pitch. He also has refined his breaking ball, switching from a slow, loopy curveball to a slider in the high-70s with average-to-better potential. The main concerns scouts have with Gonzalez are his size and delivery. He is athletic, but is not an imposing figure on the mound, listed at 6-foot-0, 180 pounds, and he has some effort in his delivery. There is some reliever risk, but regardless, he is a very exciting arm and one whose stock is well up this year. 

Right-hander Luis De La Rosa was the other low minors prospect acquired in the Andrew Benintendi trade, from the Royals. He started slow, including an awful game in which he allowed 6 earned runs on 4 hits in just 2/3 of an inning, and he has missed significant time, including extended absences of 21 days, 13 days, and 14 days already this year. He has been better lately, however, with 20 strikeouts to just 13  hits and 6 walks in 23 innings in his last 6 appearances. The 19-year-old De La Rosa has an athletic, average frame. He is projectable, but his present stuff is raw. In a report from that one poor outing, his fastball sat 89-91 mph and he complimented it with a 77-78 mph curveball for which he showed some feel and ability to spin. His command and control were raw, however. 

Right-hander Nathanael Cruz likely would have ranked higher than 60 in the September rankings if not for him leaving his most recent start, on August 6, after four pitches. The 18-year-old Cruz signed for $200,000 out of the Dominican Republic back in 2019 and is listed at 6-foot-2, 187 pounds, but has remaining projection. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and his 86-87 mph changeup flashes plus. He still has a long way to go with his command and control, and his low-80s breaking ball is a work in progress, but he intrigued scouts and there is upside given his age.  

Right-hander Juan Daniel Encarnacion lacks the name recognition of some other arms in the Florida Complex League, but he has been one of the club’s most consistent pitchers. In 41.2 innings, Encarnacion has a 3.02 ERA and 1.03 WHIP, striking out 48 and walking only 11. The 20-year old Encarnacion signed for $40,000 in September 2018 and has some projection remaining in his 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame. Encarnacion’s velocity has increased from 88-91 mph at Fall Instructs to 90-93 mph. His breaking ball flashed average in a recent start and he also showed a changeup. His best attribute right now is his control, as he throws a lot of strikes and shows some feel for command. 

Photo Credit: Wilkelman Gonzalez and Nathanael Cruz by Bryan Green.

Ian Cundall is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @IanCundall.