Yoel Gonzalez becomes the latest Dominican Prospect League player to sign a professional contract. Due to his date of birth Yoel wasn’t able to sign on July 2nd, he was subject to negotiate and sign after he turned 16 on August 1st. The Pittsburgh Pirates Latin American Director Rene Gayo identified Yoel in San Cristobal while working out at Academia Josue Mateo this past year and followed his consistency during the DPL season. In 2012 Gonzalez was a DPL All-Star and selected to the DPL Elite Travel Team.
Yoel has an athletic build with room to fill out his frame; he has good flexibility and great body projection for the position. He has shown much improvement behind the plate in blocking and receiving; his arm strength is solid average to plus and he’s pretty accurate around the bag. Gonzalez has solid offensive ability and projection; he showed consistency to squares up pitches to all fields; he gets good extension and drives the ball to the gaps; average game power should come with development. The Pittsburgh Pirates and Yoel Gonzalez agree to a contract value of $350,000.00. Yoel will more than likely begin his career in the Dominican Summer League in 2013, only time and development will tell how fast he advances through the system.
YOEL GONZALEZ / C 6’1″, 175lb R/R, August 1, 1996, San Cristobal, D.R. Trainer: Academia Josue Mateo
PERFECT GAME REPORT / PG Grade: 9
Gonzalez is very young physically and is one of the youngest players in the DPL group by date of birth as well. However, he is a very mature receiver who sits calmly and comfortably behind the plate and receives the ball cleanly and blocks with good fundamentals and quickness. His arm is loose and clean and he’ll pop his throws consistently in the 1.9 to 2.0 range, which is pretty impressive for a 15-year old. He handled the 96-98 mph fastballs from one Boston Red Sox pitcher without much problem, although it was obvious he hadn’t seen too many 90 mph hard sinkers in the Dominican when another pitcher was on the hill.
He doesn’t have the strength to create real bat speed at present but his swing is loose and extended and he does a good job finding the barrel in games. There’s plenty of projection here and the more you watch Gonzalez play in games, the more you feel he’s going to be a pretty good player in a couple of years and well worth an investment by a Major League club.
Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Academia Josue Mateo and the Gonzalez family.