The Rockies lost Troy Tulowitski a while back to injury and many thought that the Rockies would crumble without him. But the Rockies have another star in the making that few outside of Colorado have heard about. Carlos Gonzales is a 25 year old from Mexico who is emerging as a real star for the Rockies.
Gonzalez wasn't that highly rated as a prospect. He was seen as a fourth outfielder with a little pop and a decent glove. But every time he went up a level in the minors, he got better. After posting only a .794 OPS in two years at Double A ball, he then recorded a combined OPS of .911 in a little over 400 at bats in Triple A.
Gonzales got called up midway through the season last season and was a real nice surprise for the Rockies. In 89 games, he hit 34 extra base hits and finished the year with a 120 OPS+. Based on that performance he was handed a starting job this year and he has responded well. In the midst of his game on Tuesday night, he is averaging .299 with 14 homers and 54 runs batted in. His OPS is lower than last year and currently sits at 110. The biggest reason for that is that he is not as patient at the plate as he should be. He only has 15 walks in 319 plate appearances. He's also stolen 12 bases giving him an outside shot at 30/30.
Gonzales has played a little more than half of his games in center with the struggles and injuries to Dexter Fowler. But Fowler is starting to come around which moves Gonzales to left, which is just as well because Gonzales isn't the best center fielder around. He's competent, but it's not his best position. If Fowler comes alive, there is a bit of a logjam as Gonzales, Seth Smith and Hawpe all have promise. But Gonzales is the best of the trio and needs to be in the line up every night.
Gonzales is a budding star. He drives in runs, he hits with some pop and he hits for average. He needs to cut down on his strikeouts and walk more. If he can do those two things, he's going to be a really bright star for the Rockies for a long time.