Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez just got a step closer to pitching with the Philadelphia Phillies.
On Thursday Gonzalez was promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The Phillies signed the Cuban pitcher about a year ago to a three-year deal worth $12 million. At the time of his signing, Phillies executives pegged Gonzalez for a starter. He’s done much better as a reliever since taking on the new role in late June.
The right-handed flamethrower has quickly worked his way up from Single-A Clearwater to Double-A Reading and now he’ll pitch for the IronPigs. With his fastball now reaching 97 mph, Gonzalez appears to have more comfort coming out of the pen and less discomfort from a previously tired arm. In 11 appearances with the Reading Fightin’ Phils he struck out 24 batters in 14.1 innings and even recorded five saves.
With Gonzalez promoted, another pitcher in the Phillies minor-league system may soon move up. Philadelphia’s top pick in this year’s draft Aaron Nola has impressed with Class-A Clearwater this summer. Nola has appeared in seven games and started six of them while striking out 30. He is 2-3 with a 3.16 ERA and has gone five innings consistently in each of the last five games he’s pitched in.
Now the Phillies number two overall prospect, Nola may move through the ranks quickly if he continues to be this consistent. The LSU product went 11-1 in his college season in 2014. He also threw to Carlos Ruiz while the Phillies catcher was on a rehab assignment.
MLB.com‘s scouting report of Nola reads:
“Not the biggest right-hander in the world, Nola has tremendous command of his three-pitch mix. His fastball sits in the low 90s and appears even faster thanks to his low three-quarters arm slot. He locates to both sides and throws his fastball with plenty of sink. His changeup is plus at times and he throws his breaking ball for strikes at any point in the count.”
The Phillies top pick in the 2013 draft was J.P. Crawford, cousin of Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford. He is currently the Phillies top prospect. The shortstop has been with Class-A Lakewood and is now a teammate of Nola’s in Clearwater. He is currently batting .268 with a .712 OPS.
Given the Phillies are in last and out of playoff contention many young players will likely move around in the coming months, Gonzalez perhaps to the big-league club.