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 Minor League News & Autograph Blog Home

Top Prospect Alert - Jonny Gomes

By Schuyler Dombroske

DOB: 11/22/80, Age: 21, Bats/Throws: R/R, Height: 6’1’’, Weight: 205. Acquired: Devil Rays - Drafted in the 18th Round of the 2001 Draft (Santa Rosa JC). 2001 Stats: (Rookie - Princeton) .291 AVG, 206 AB, 11 2B, 2 3B, 16 HR, 15 SB, 33 BB, 73 K, .442 OBP, .597 SLG. 2002 Stats: (High-A - Bakersfield) .300 AVG, 207 AB, 11 2B, 6 3B, 15 HR, 2 SB, 37 BB, 68 K, .427 OBP, .628 SLG.
    Jonny Gomes is looking like a new member of a relatively rare breed: the late-round draft steal. Gomes, an outfielder by trade, was selected in the eighteenth round of last year’s draft by Tampa Bay, and after tearing up the Appy League last year, has put up some impressive numbers so far this season for Bakersfield. Gomes is a solidly built right-handed hitter with extremely quick wrists that generate impressive bat speed. He has above average power already, and I would expect him to get a bit stronger yet. Thus far in his pro career, Jonny has already hit 31 homers in just over 400 at-bats. Without knowing for sure, I would say that that has to be one of the top three ratios for an A ball player. He is very aggressive at the plate, striking out an enormous number of times (141 in 413 ABs), but he is also showing the early stages of strike-zone judgment, with 70 walks over the same period. The strikeout totals are far too high, and no doubt illustrate the degree to which Gomes’ weaknesses would be exploited at higher levels, but plate discipline in a 21 year old is rare, so he has time and moderate expectations on his side. I wouldn’t expect him to be an extreme average hitter, but he should be able to hold his own. On the basepaths, Gomes will surprise you with his speed. Double-digit steals will not be extremely likely, but he’ll steal a base now and then and won’t clog things up. In the field, Gomes has played left, center, and right in his brief career, but I think he is best suited for a corner spot. His range is decent outside of center, and his arm is a solid average. Gomes is still young, but to be faring so well in High-A ball less than a year after drafting bodes well for his future with the Rays.
    The Devil Rays, for all of their warts at the major-league level, are quietly improving their prospect pipeline. Aubrey Huff, Toby Hall, and Brent Abernathy are already cutting their teeth at the top level, and Carl Crawford, Josh Hamilton, and Rocco Baldelli join Gomes as potential All-Star outfielders. With the selection of BJ Upton in last week’s draft, the Rays are starting to look like a well-stocked franchise. The pitching is a little thinner, but there are a few quality arms in Wilson, McClung, and Brazleton. If they keep heading in this direction, the Devil Rays won’t be an AL laughingstock for long. As for Gomes, the depth of the system adds a few roadblocks to his path to the majors. I would expect him to spend most, if not all of the year at Bakersfield. He probably would be ready for the majors by the end of 2004 at this pace. I am going to go with a little different player comparison, and liken Gomes to Mike Restovich, current Twins OF prospect. Unfortunately, I don’t think that Gomes has much of a chance with the Rays due to the depth of the system (and the slightly better caliber of Baldelli, Hamilton, and Crawford), but he may be able to show enough to be included in a deal somewhere else. There are plenty of teams that could use a player this talented, but Tampa Bay, surprisingly, may not be one of them. 


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