BENJI GONZALEZ
SHORTSTOP
Born: January 16, 1990
Height: 5′ 11″
Weight: 160
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Drafted: 7th Round, 204th Overall, 2008
High School: Puerto Rico Baseball Academy
Agent: N/A

WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES

The Pirates drafted Gonzalez due to his good speed and defensive ability, but scouts were doubtful he’d hit well enough.  He had a commitment to Oklahoma State, but signed with the Pirates.  He’s shown the potential to be a major league shortstop defensively, but the bat has remained an issue.

2008
R:  207/331/223, 121 AB, 2 2B, 22 BB, 28 K, 8-9 SB 

Gonzalez played about as expected in the GCL, doing very little with the bat beyond showing very good plate discipline and some speed.  Despite the presence of Jarek Cunningham and Andury Acevedo (who seemed like a real prospect at the time), he was the GCL team’s primary shortstop, an indication of his defensive ability.

2009
R:  289/363/333, 159 AB, 5 2B, 1 3B, 17 BB, 33 K, 7-12 SB
A:  250/308/333, 12 AB, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K, 0-1 SB 

Returned to the GCL and again was regular SS.  His hitting improved significantly, as he did a good job of getting on base, although he still showed no power at all.  He got a final-week promotion to West Virginia when Greg Picart got hurt.

2010
A:  236/300/278, 406 AB, 12 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 35 BB, 71 K, 18-32 SB 

Spent year as starting SS for West Virginia.  He got off to a miserable start at the plate, posting an anemic first-half line of 196/260/225.  That got him dropped from the leadoff spot to ninth in the batting order.  In the second half he improved to 279/342/335.  He didn’t use his speed well on the bases.  Defensively, he showed good range, hands and athleticism, and enough arm for short, giving him the ability to make very tough plays at times.  His error total (32) may seem high, but for that level, and for a 20-year-old, it’s not unusual.

2011
A+:  222/296/281, 388 AB, 12 2B, 4 3B, 1 HR, 40 BB, 88 K, 19-26 SB 

At Bradenton, Gonzalez showed progress with the bat early, hitting .265 in April and May, but he fell apart after that, hitting .194 the rest of the way.  As in the past, he showed a willingness to take walks, but his K rate increased to once every four and a half ABs, and he still hit for no power at all.  He did better on the bases.  In the field, he cut his errors to 26.

2012
A+:  265/330/333, 294 AB, 11 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 27 BB, 63 K, 8-16 SB

Gonzalez return to Bradenton in a utility role, as the team had Gift Ngoepe at short and Drew Maggi at second.  Maggi missed some time with injuries, though, and then got promoted to Altoona, so Gonzalez played about half the team’s games at second while backing up at third and short.  He hit better than the year before, but not well enough to get back on the prospect track.

2013
A+:  232/314/294, 384 AB, 15 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 43 BB, 66 K, 27-40 SB

Gonzalez returned to Bradenton in a utility role.  He ended up playing semi-regularly at third, seeing only a little time at second and short.  He hit a little less well than the previous year.  He ran a lot more, but not very efficiently.

Gonzalez figures to return in 2014 as a utility player, but at the start of the season he was not on any roster.

STATS
Baseball Reference–Minors
Fangraphs
MiLB.com
CONTRACT INFORMATION
2014: Minor League Contract
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: $130,000
MiLB Debut: 2008
MLB Debut: N/A
MiLB FA Eligible: 2014
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: 2012
Added to 40-Man: N/A
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
TRANSACTIONS
June 6, 2008: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 7th round, 204th overall pick; signed on June 13.