Frisco right-hander Alex Gonzalez already has five pitches in his repertoire.
If he keeps to his plan to add a pitch each time he moves up in the Texas Rangers’ system he could have more than he knows what to do with by the time he hits Arlington.
But for Gonzalez, five has been plenty while excelling with the RoughRiders since moving up from Class A Myrtle Beach in early June.
Along with four-seam and two-seam fastballs and a slider, Gonzalez added a changeup at the urging of Myrtle Beach pitching coach Steve Mintz.
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“He wanted me to focus on the changeup,” said Gonzalez, who was selected by the Rangers in the first round of the 2013 draft as the No. 23 overall pick out of Oral Roberts. “He said he wanted it locked in here.”
When Gonzalez, 22, joined Frisco in June, RoughRiders pitching coach Jeff Andrews encouraged him to develop his curveball, a pitch he had thrown only occasionally at Myrtle Beach.
“Ever since I got to Double A I’ve been throwing every one of those pitches,” he said. “Mixing up the timing and tempo. Instead of three or four pitches there’s an extra one [for hitters to think about].”
It has served him well. Gonzales has been sizzling in Frisco, pitching on a staff with the best arms in the Rangers’ organization, including Jake Thompson, Alec Asher and Jerad Eickhoff.
In 24 minor league starts in 2014, including the past 13 for Frisco, Gonzalez is 12-6 with a 2.56 ERA. In 681/3 innings with Frisco, he has 60 strikeouts and 23 walks.
He’s been more consistently commanding his fastball, which was clocked at 97 mph on Aug. 16 at Tulsa. He’s not sure when he threw it in the game, but he doesn’t care, either.
“If I’m getting my outs, I’m getting my outs,” he said. “If it’s 84-85, I don’t really care how hard it is.”
Getting ahead of hitters and controlling each at-bat is his top priority.
“I’ve been focusing on the plate more than trying to shoot for a corner,” he said. “Getting ahead is what I’ve tried to instill in myself, and it’s been great. I’ll throw a first-pitch fastball and I’ll get a strike, or it’s hit to somebody and it’s one pitch, one out.”
Gonzalez struggled in his last start when he allowed a season-high five runs on nine hits Friday night. It was his first loss since June 26, after a string of nine starts.