The Phillies signed Cuban pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to a three-year, $12 million contract last August. His time with the team hasn’t gone according to plan. Due to the right-hander’s struggles defecting from Cuba, he hadn’t played competitive baseball for a long time when he showed up to Clearwater, Florida for spring training. What the Phillies saw was a pitcher far different than the guy they had scouted over the prior year, and Gonzalez ended up needing time on the disabled list with a shoulder injury.
Delaware Online’s Chris Branch reports that Gonzalez is ready to head out on a rehab assignment after some very positive reports came back to the Phillies on his progress. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro said Gonzalez was topping out at 95 MPH on his fastball, much better than the high-80’s fastball Gonzalez was throwing in spring training.
Gonzalez will begin his rehab assignment on Thursday and get the ball rolling on his professional career. It will still be a while before the Phillies could reasonably utilize him, but they’re desperate to fix up the bullpen — their 4.68 bullpen ERA currently ranks as the fourth-worst in baseball.
José Bautista hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2018 but the 39-year-old isn’t done playing just yet. Last month, we learned via a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Bautista is hoping to come back as a two-way player. He spent the winter working out as a pitcher.
Bautista had also been working with former Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman. Back in January, Stroman tweeted, “My bro @JoeyBats19 is nasty on the mound. We been working working. All jokes aside, this man can pitch in a big league bullpen. I’ll put my word on it!”
In March, Passan added some details about Bautista, writing, “I’ve seen video of Jose Bautista throwing a bullpen session. Couldn’t tell the velocity, but one source said he can run his fastball up to 94. His slider had legitimate tilt — threw a short one and a bigger bender. @STR0 said in January he could pitch in a big league bullpen.” Stroman retweeted it, adding, “Facts!”
Stroman reiterated his feelings on Tuesday. He tweeted, “Since y’all thought I wasn’t being serious when I said it the first time…my bro @JoeyBats19could EASILY pitch in a big league bullpen. Easily. Sinker, slider, and changeup are MLB ready!” Stroman attached a video of Bautista throwing a slider, in which one can hear Stroman calling the pitch “nasty.”
Stroman attached another video of Bautista throwing a glove-side sinker:
Replying to a fan, Stroman said Bautista’s body “is in better shape than 90-95% of the league.”
I am not a scout and won’t pretend to be one after watching two low-resolution videos. And Stroman’s hype is likely partially one friend attempting to uplift another. That being said, I’ve seen much worse from position players attempting to pitch. It’s a long shot, especially given his age, that Bautista will ever pitch in the majors, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an opportunity to pitch in front of major league scouts.