The Phillies have called up 22-year old righthander Severino Gonzalez to take a turn in their starting rotation tonight, perhaps leading a number of Phils fans to wonder just who is this kid, the youngest to make a start for the team in nearly a decade?
The quick, easy answer is that he was pitching for the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs, and was on his regular turn in their rotation tonight. The Phillies needed someone to make the start due to the recent injury of Sean O’Sullivan, who himself was working as the #5 starter because Chad Billingsley is still rehabbing, and is not yet ready for major league action.
He becomes the 21st Panamanian pitcher in MLB history, with Mariano Rivero easily the most well-known of that group. When he takes the mound with Carlos Ruiz behind the plate, they will make up the very first all-Panamanian battery in MLB history.
Per Greg Joyce with the Express-Times, Gonzalez received the word that he was headed to the Phils for his major league debut from Lehigh Valley manager Dave Brundage on Saturday. “A lot of pitching coaches have had a hand in developing him. It always means a lot. I’m at the end of the chain, but certainly, I think I’m more proud for the pitching coaches and the ones that have had a hand in helping to develop him.”
So it is more out of necessity and chance that Gonzalez is getting this opportunity at this particular time. He has pitched well this year, though nothing special. With the IronPigs, Gonzalez has made 3 starts so far, carrying a 1-1 record with a 3.57 ERA and a 1.245 WHIP. In 17.2 innings he has allowed 20 hits, with a 9-2 K:BB ratio.
Gonzalez made 3 appearances with the Phils back in spring training. In the Grapefruit League he allowed 4 hits in 3 innings, striking out 2 and allowing no walks or runs.
He first signed with the Phillies as an 18-year old out of Panama back in 2011. After pitching the 2011 and 2012 seasons with the Phils team in the Venezuelan Summer League, Gonzalez quickly progressed through three levels in 2013, ending his summer at AA Reading, and then making an appearance in the Venezuelan Winter League.
Following that 2013 season, Gonzalez received the Phillies organizational Paul Owens Award as their top-performing minor league pitcher. His numbers across 3 stops that year were a 7-5 record across 25 games, 14 starts. In 103.2 innings he allowed just 84 hits, with a 119-22 K:BB ratio.
Gonzalez pitched all of last season with the Fightin’ Phils at Reading. He held his own as a 21-year old, pitching 158.1 innings across 27 starts in which he allowed 169 hits. His 4.60 ERA was high, mostly owing to his allowance of 23 homeruns. However, his WHIP was just 1.245, owing to a strong 115-34 K:BB ratio.
Overall, the youngster has pitched in 415 minor league innings across his 4+ seasons, and has allowed just 67 walks, for an average of exactly 1.5 walks per 9 innings pitched. This year, that rate has dipped to just 1 per 9 innings.
What Severino Gonzalez generally does, and what the Phillies are hoping for in tonight’s outing, is not beat himself. He will give up a few hits, but he won’t walk many batters. The Phils have to be hoping that he will be able to provide them a solid 5-6 innings, maybe allow 2-3 runs, and keep them in the ball game.