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April 6, 2005

by Fabian

Well, that sucked (SG)

Abel Gomez, 20, LHP

Abel Gomez was on my Yankee prospect radar when I compiled an organizational depth chart before the ’04 season. However, he did not make my list of top 10 prospects for the system for a couple reasons. The first was that while I loved that he struck out 43 men in 38 innings and only gave up 19 hits and 1 home run, I was worried about the 26 walks. This made me question how long his effectiveness would last as well as whether or not the Yankees would even promote him from the GCL. In addition, I had no idea what kind of physical tools he had to do what he was doing. So, playing it somewhat conservatively I decided to just leave Abel Gomez as someone for the backburner. During the ’04 season he was able to continue his solid performance and close the gap between him and ’03 GCL teammate Tyler Clippard, who did make my list last year.

Gomez’s main weapon, and some would say his only weapon, is a fastball that sits in the low 90s and can touch 95 on occasion. While this is a terrific weapon for any left-handed pitcher to possess, the problem is that Gomez’s control of the pitch is spotty at best. In addition, his curveball and change up are not legitimate pitches at this point. Gomez’s other physical shortcoming, no pun intended, is his diminutive stature. He stands only 6’0’’ tall and is lighter than his listed 170 pounds. Any pitcher in this situation will find himself under intense scrutiny for any signs of physical breakdown.

These shortcomings did not prove much of a problem in the Midwest League as Gomez struck out 149 in 143 innings while limiting opponents to a .222 BAA and 7 home runs, all excellent numbers. On the negative side, he also walked 73 men during that time. Fortunately, much of his struggles with the strike zone were at the outset of the season, when he was nearly demoted to extended spring training, and as the year went on he seemed to gain a better idea of where the ball was going upon release.

In ’05 Gomez will begin the year as an integral member of the Tampa rotation. His progress through the Yankee system has thus far been slow and steady; he’s played 1 level per year while holding opponents to a career .192 BAA along with 247 strikeouts and only 149 hits and 8 home runs allowed in 220 career innings. He and Clippard are an example of attempting to balance ceiling and risk. At this point, Gomez appears to have the higher ceiling because of his big time fastball, however, Clippard’s performance, specifically his strike zone control, and his larger frame would make him a safer pick. If Gomez can even begin making minimal strides in either his control or development of his secondary pitches he can easily become one of the top left-handed prospects in baseball. By the same token, hitters will only get better as he moves up the chain and his control could effectively prove a huge obstacle to a successful career because even LOOGYs need some modicum of control.

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