(Picture is by Mark Suleymanov, beat writer for the Brooklyn Cyclones, Via Scout.com)
New to the scene is Merandy Gonzalez, a pitcher who earned recognition in 2015 for pitching a no-hitter in the Gulf Coast League. Merandy was a pitcher little-known until he came stateside, considering there was not much fanfare, and his bonus was not reported. Not many knew he was signed or when, and we’re not even sure where the name “Merandy” came from, but I’m going to refer to him as his first name for this entire article.
RHP Merandy Gonzalez
R/R, 6’1″, 195 LBs, 10/9/1995 (21), Brooklyn Cyclones
Merandy was unheralded at signing to say the least. Every July 2nd, we hear of these guys- usually players who our teams pay hundred thousands to millions, but we don’t realize that there are at least a dozen to 20 guys that are signed throughout the year for minimal bonuses of $1,000 to 50K. Merandy was one of those that the Mets signed and we didn’t know or care. Usually you hear their name, they perform or don’t, and are sent home.
He began at the DSL in 2013 as a 17 year old and posted a 2.82 ERA in 14 games with two starts, but failed to impress the Mets enough to send him stateside, partly due to only striking out 5.8 per 9 innings on average. Also, I believe they wanted to have him start in a place just dominated. As an 18 year old, Gonzalez returned and posted a 3.54 ERA in 14 games (13 starts) between DSL 1 and DSL 2.
When he came stateside at the age 0f 19, he was still fairly not hyped and pitching in Complex-League Gulf Coast. On July 9th of a minor league double-header, Merandy fired a 7 inning no-hitter with a walk and six strikeouts. He was immediately promoted to Kingsport after the game, and posted a 2.82 ERA in nine games (seven starts). During that time, he struck out 39 in 44.2 innings. Plenty asked for his stuff after his dominating performance, but no one could dig it up.
Gonzalez earned his right to get the spotlight in Brooklyn with this performance this year. He didn’t disappoint, and instead gained intrigue. In 14 games started, Gonzalez pitched to a 2.87 ERA in 69 innings and struck out 71 but walked 27.
Tom Gamboa, Brooklyn’s Manager told the press early on that Merandy was touching 97 on his fastball and relied on power stuff to beat his batters. Prior to his retirement, Gamboa could be prone to hyperbole, but he wasn’t incorrect on the Velocity. Merandy works in the 92-94 range with his fastball, and does touch 96 and sometimes 97. Coupling with that is a curveball that flashes above-average, but is inconsistent. Those two pitches were more than enough to overpower New York-Penn League hitters. He also has a change that he’s working on, but we don’t know how far along that is yet. His mechanics are fairly clean, but he still needs to find some consistency in his control. There were a couple of games where Merandy lost his control and had to leave the game early. Should the changeup develop, his ceiling would be mid-rotation starter, or possibly a setup man if it doesn’t.
- Merandy is a guy with nice broad shoulders, but a slightly stocky build, meaning he may not gain more Velocity despite being just 21.
- There is a possibility that he may never develop that change and be a two-pitch reliever in the long run. Mechanics could be an issue too.
- Still a long way to go, and only has pitched up to 69 innings in one season. He’s got a jump in innings ahead with a 140 game season, and possibly 6 more starts.
Gonzalez has intriguing potential, but he’s a long ways away. We should be able to see him this year often with the Columbia Fireflies, and see how he progresses in full season ball. Should he excel in 12 starts, then he’ll be bumped up to St. Lucie, which is usually the case with most pitchers in full season ball.
There are no other players with the first name Merandy in the history of the minor leagues.
Columbia Fireflies so far:
- Michael Paez
- Merandy Gonzalez