May 4 2014: Chase De Jong throws a pitch for the Lansing Lugnuts in Lansing, Michigan. Mandatory Credit: Jay Blue

First-Hand Reports: Midwest League Pitching Bonanza, Part 3

Now we get to my scouting report from the third day of baseball games that I saw in the Midwest League last weekend. Lansing sent right Chase De Jong out to the mound against Chad Green for the West Michigan Whitecaps.

Sunday May 4

Highlight 1

Chase De Jong has been very effective in his past few outings and has now been decoupled from piggybacking with Adonys Cardona, who will probably be gone for a long time after breaking his elbow while throwing a pitch. I’ve seen De Jong a couple of times before: once last season in Rookie-League Bluefield and once earlier this year in spring training. He was utterly dominant last year against poorer competition but got hit hard in the spring start I saw.

De Jong, a 20-year-old righty, was on the verge of getting clobbered on Sunday, giving up several hard hit balls on fastballs up in the zone but his defense (and a poor call by the umpire) bailed him out and he rectified his issues starting in the second inning. De Jong ended up with five scoreless innings by the time he came out of the game, allowing four hits and one walk with two strikeouts. His 90-91 mph fastball was very well spotted down in the zone after the first inning although he was much more consistent in his ability to hit his spots on his arm side than his glove side. This meant that he was pitching inside very effectively to right-handed hitters with catcher Santiago Nessy barely moving his glove when he called for pitches there.

Interestingly, De Jong was using his changeup as his primary offspeed pitch. When I saw him last year, I thought the changeup had potential to be an above average offering but it was still very inconsistent and frequently too firm. It has “softened up” much more consistently and has some very good fade and sink.

De Jong looked like he didn’t have a feel for his trademark 12-6 curveball that day. He spun a few that looked like they hung or he didn’t really have any control of it and that could very well have led to his low strikeout total. Usually, his hammer is a pitch that makes hitters look silly and the fact that he could put up zeroes for five innings without throwing it much (for whatever reason) is an excellent sign in his development.

Pleasant Surprise

Alonzo Gonzalez was a pitcher that many wrote off last season. Gonzalez had a very poor start to 2013 with the Lansing Lugnuts and, when I saw the tall lefty last May, he was throwing in the 87-89 mph range with very bad control. He was demoted to Vancouver and seemed to find himself there before getting assigned back to Lansing in 2014.

Gonzalez, a 6-foot-5 22 year old, has been coming out of the bullpen in 2014 but has picked up a lot of innings, cleaning up after a young starting staff that had short outings early in the season and Gonzalez has been getting mixed results. On Sunday, he looked outstanding, with his velocity up to the 90-91 mph range, hitting 92 at least once. He coupled that fastball with an 84-85 mph changeup that was very effective, allowing him to strike out five batters in three no-hit innings, walking only one. His control was spot on and Gonzalez showed a glimpse of what he can ultimately be. Unfortunately, Gonzalez hasn’t shown that form consistently this year but the potential is excellent.

Tags: Toronto Blue Jays

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