Friday, March 13, 2009
Player Profile: Carlos Gomez
With Johan Santana on the cusp of becoming a free agent and the Twins getting just a draft pick in return, the Twins had to make a move to insure they would get some quality players. Sure enough the Twins were able to pull off a trade after weeks of discussion. They acquired Phillip Humber, Kevin Mulvey, Deolis Guerra, and Carlos Gomez. Carlos was the center piece of this deal and he has shown flashes of why he was that part.
Entering the 2008 season, Carlos was only 22 years of age, so that caused some scouts and analysts to question whether he was ready for the big leagues or if he should start in Rochester, the Twins Triple-A affiliate. There was only one problem if he had started in the minors. The Twins would have had nothing to show for right away through the Johan trade. So Carlos started in centerfield for the Twins on Opening Day.
However, his starting job was no gimmie. He had to fight of Denard Span to win the centerfield job. They battled all Spring Training as manager Ron Gardenhire watched and evaluated. It seemed that when one person would start pulling away, the other would get right back into the race. I believe the deciding factor was Carlos’ defensive skills. He has an unbelievable arm and is never afraid to lay out for a ball when it’s coming at him.
If it wasn’t for the defense of Carlos, I believe he would have started in 2008 and spent a good amount of time in the minors to work on his hitting. But Ron is a defensive minded manager and felt that Gomez was the best option for centerfield. Gomez committed just eight errors during the 2008 season in center. He is possibly the most exciting defensive player the Twins have had since Kirby Puckett. Yes, I would put him above Torii Hunter. It is just amazing to watch a Twins game and you think the ball is going to drop and all of the sudden you see Carlos enter the frame and make a game saving catch. If it wasn’t for Carlos last year, the Twins might have ended up with a few more losses.
Another asset of Carlos Gomez’s game that scouts cherish is his speed on the base paths. It has been said many times that Carlos Gomez is the fastest runner in the major leagues. He has said to be even faster than Mets shortstop, Jose Reyes. A good friend of mine, Joe DeMayo, who contributes to New York Baseball Digest, a New York baseball blog site, shared this opinion with me. “He reminds me of Jose Reyes in many ways. He is very raw at the plate, yet he has the blazing speed and fielding ability that Reyes had when he was coming up through the Mets system. He had struggles trying to hit the breaking ball, which Carlos has struggles with now, but in the long run, he was able to figure it out.”
Toss in the field turf, although for only one more season, and Gomez is flat out speedy. By having the amazing speed he does, the opposing pitcher not only has to worry about the batter, but has to worry about Gomez when he is on base. He completely changes the game for the Twins and the opposition. The Twins haven’t really had that kind of threat on the bases for years, so it nice to see we have someone who can get inside the pitchers head.
The one part of Gomez’s game that he still has to polish is his patience at the plate. Last year he struck out 142 times and only drew 25 walks. If he wants to continue to be the highly touted player that he is, he will need to improve those numbers. You do have to remember though that he is only going to be 23 years old when Opening Day rolls around, so he has a long ways to go. So far this Spring he has shown that he is getting better. He is hitting .318 with three homeruns and four runs batted in. He has struck out four times and walked twice. So it is certainly there, it’s just a matter of how disciplined he will be when Opening Day gets here.
So overall, Carlos Gomez is one of the most exciting players in baseball to watch today. He shows that attitude in the game that everyone loves to see. He will go all out on every play and never give up. Whether it’s laying down a bunt to start off an inning, or diving to prevent a potential game winning run. I look forward to watching him evolve into the next great Twins centerfield as he has some big shoes to fill with Kirby Puckett and then Torii Hunter after him.