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Keep an eye on Giovany Gonzalez

Giovany Gonzalez had a minor-league high 185 strikeouts in 2007.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - While it is cliche to say that all young left-handed pitchers are wild, it would not be incorrect when talking about the talented, but sometimes out of control, Giovany Gonzalez.

The 22-year-old from Hialeah, FL was an 18-year-old when he was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 2004. He was traded to the Philadelphia organization as part of the Jim Thome-Aaron Rowand deal and back to the White Sox in the Freddy Garcia deal a year later. Oakland got him in January 2008 as part of a Nick Swisher trade.

Through it all the youngster continued to show promise striking out more than a batter per inning, but unfortunately, also walking way too many hitters. In 2006 at Reading he struck out 166 batter in 154 innings, but walked 81. He had a minor-league high 185 strikeouts in 2007 and improved his control, but still walked 57 in 150 inning at Birmingham.

His 2008 started out with more of the same. In a May outing for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats, he gave up 10 hits, 10 earned runs and two walks in just three and two-thirds innings. But something appears to have changed of late. Maybe its just the natural maturation from an 18-year-old out of high school to a professional pitcher four years later, but his last few appearances have been spectacular.

He threw a complete game, one-hit, 13-strikeout performance against the Fresno Grizzlies on July 4th and five days later against Colorado Springs, he again gave up just one hit over six innings while striking out seven and walking just one man.

Is this an aberration, or has he found the "on" switch?

When you have a 93-95 m.p.h. fastball and yet your best pitch is a curve ball you have the makings for a very good pitcher. He is also learning a change up which could make him a devastating pitcher. But first he must learn to control all three pitches and his self-control.

"I tend to show my emotions a little too much," Gonzalez said earlier this year. "You can see it when I'm upset, and that's not good. Batters can see it, and I have to improve on that."

Keep watching Gonzalez and see if he continues to pitch well. If he does, don't be surprised if the parent club brings him up soon. With the trade of Rich Harden, the Athletics have obviously thrown in the towel for 2008, but they might want to look at their young pitcher in preparation for next year.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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