2020 Dodgers Top 100 Prospects: No. 4, RHP Tony Gonsolin

We’re up to No. 4 in this Dodgers Top 100 Prospects countdown. This is Tony Gonsolin, who is the oldest prospect in this Top 10, but also one of the most talented. Oh, and he loves cats, which is just awesome.

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Previous Entries

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I’ve included Future Value (FV) grades and risks for the Top 50 prospects. For example, if a guy gets a “50 low,” he has a really good chance to be an average player at his position. If a guy gets a “55/High,” there’s a good chance he won’t reach that ceiling, but the potential is there. The grades are 20-80 (50 is average), and the risks are as follows:

  • Low: Players who are usually older, have debuted, are relievers and/or have higher floors than ceilings
  • Medium: Players who are a mix of younger and older, usually have higher floors
  • High: Players who are usually younger with potential, but also question marks
  • Extreme: Players who are generally younger with star potential, but a ton of question marks

This is to show what value a player might provide at the MLB level. The higher the risk, the less likely a player will reach that ceiling.

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Editor’s Note: I am not a scout (#notascout). I am an amateur when it comes to evaluating players. I don’t claim to be a pro, I just want to pass along the information I observe/obtain to the people. Notes and comments are based on personal observation, talking to sources, reading scouting reports and watching video. For future entries in this series: All ratings in the charts below are on the standard 20-80 scouting scale, where 50 is roughly average, 80 is elite and nearly unattainable and 20 is unacceptably poor. Enjoy.

Other Notes: “Role” is a realistic future role (slightly optimistic in some cases). Age is the 2020 season age for the player (June 30 is the cutoff date).

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Rating Key

80 — Elite
75 — Borderline Elite
70 — Plus-plus
60-65 — Plus
55 — Above-average
50 — Average
45 — Fringe-average
40 — Below-average
30-35 — Poor
20-25 — Very Poor

4. Tony Gonsolin

DOB: 5/14/94Age: 26Height: 6’3Weight: 205Bats: RightThrows: RightPosition: RHP

Acquired: 9th round (No. 281 overall) of 2016 MLB Draft, St. Mary’s College, $2,500 signing bonus

Physical description: Athletic, former infielder, starter’s frame

Strengths: Plus-fastball velo, plus-plus splitter, improving breaking pitches

Weaknesses: Stamina questionable, “old” for prospect

Key statistics: 2.93 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 22.7 K%, 9.2 BB%, 40 IP (MLB)

Role: No. 3 SP/elite-level RP

Player comparison: Vince Velasquez

Summary: The Dodgers got a steal in 2016 when they drafted Gonsolin out of a small California college. He signed for pennies and could end up being the third- or fourth-best player of the class for the Dodgers — and that’s really saying something. He made his MLB debut and fared well in 40 innings of work. After making two starts with OKC, he ended up on the minor-league injured list for about six weeks with an oblique strain. With OKC, he posted a 4.35 ERA in 13 starts. He was up-and-down a bit between OKC and LA before finally sticking with the big league club from Aug. 18 through the rest of the season.

Gonsolin broke into pro ball with a very average fastball (88-92 MPH). In 2017, he saw his velocity spike to a point where he was touching 100 MPH in the Cal League playoffs. But he has consistently sat in the 93-95 MPH range with his 4-seam fastball. It’s a high-spin pitch (would have been 12th-highest RPM in MLB if he qualified) that he’s very effective with — especially up in the strike zone. He has a glut of offspeed offerings, headed by his double-plus splitter in the high-80s. It features hard downward fade that he will throw to any-handed hitter in any count. His mid-80s slider is actually improving and becoming a more-than-viable third pitch. He also has a low-80s curveball that he doesn’t throw very much, but it’s a decent fourth offering. He also limits hard contact with his pitches — especially his slider (81.1 MPH average exit velocity).

Gonsolin uses a simple delivery that is clean and repeatable thanks to his athleticism. He throws from an almost over-the-top arm slot and is able to use his quick arm to generate premium velocity on all his pitches. It will sometimes lead to inconsistent command/control of his pitches, but he has done a good job of throwing strikes in his short career. He doesn’t have the normal mileage on his arm that a lot of 26-year-old pitchers have because he was a 2-way player in college. That’s a double-edged sword because while he doesn’t have a lot of wear and tear, he also doesn’t have a lot of innings under his belt.

I’ve been pretty high on Gonsolin the last couple years. If he were 22 or 23 years old, he’d probably be battling a certain infielder for the top spot on this list. Alas, he isn’t, but he still has No. 2/3 starter upside thanks to a deep pitching repertoire and pitchability. If he can’t build up the necessary stamina to be a consistent MLB starter, he could be a valuable swingman-type or an elite-level closer. As of now, the Dodgers view him as a starter, so there’s a good chance he begins the season with OKC. He’ll be one of the first pitchers recalled when they need it. If he does begin the season in the majors, it’ll be in the bullpen.

Video

Video courtesy of MLB.com.

Video courtesy of FanGraphs.

ToolPresentFuture
Fastball6060
Curveball4550
Slider5055
Splitter7070
Command/Control5055
Delivery5055
FV/Risk55Low

2019 Ranking: 5
2020 Location: Los Angeles/Triple-A Oklahoma City
ETA: Debuted 2019

Next Up: Prospect No. 3

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.