Chi Chi Gonzalez is the Texas Rangers' top pitching prospect, and it's basically a formality that he will be in the majors at some point relatively soon.
The 23-year-old righty had a very nice spring training audition before being sent down to the minor-league camp on Tuesday, and though he might not have provided much better results early this season than a guy like Nick Martinez or Nick Tepesch, you have to think he wouldn't have fared any worse either.
So why not give Gonzalez a shot in the Opening Day rotation if you're the Rangers? Well, there are a couple of solid reasons. First, if Gonzalez gets rocked early on, it could hurt his confidence and we've all seen guys rushed and their confidence wrecked with one bad outing. You don't want that.
But I get the sense the Rangers aren't too worried about Gonzalez in that regard. What makes a lot more sense is starting his service time clock and what it means for his future.
If Chi Chi spends the first 15-20 days of the season in the minors and is then called up, he'll get a whole extra year of service time before hitting arbitration — not necessarily great for Gonzalez, but great for the Rangers, who can have him on the cheap for basically seven seasons instead of six.
The general thought on Gonzalez is that he has a ceiling of a No. 2 starter with a likelihood of being a very good No. 3, which is nothing to sneeze at. Don't be shocked to see him on the Rangers' roster sooner rather than later, especially if one of those Nicks struggles to get it going.