On Wednesday, the Red Sox will face a starting pitcher with a face entirely familiar to the front office.
In December of 2008, the Red Sox selected Miguel Gonzalez in the Rule 5 draft, taking the little-known right-handed prospect from the Los Angeles Angels.
Gonzalez had earned no great reputation in his time with the Angels. An undrafted free agent, Gonzalez had worked some decent seasons in Double-A, but made not a single appearance on Baseball America's 2008 wrap-up of the system's best prospects and tools. An injured knee would cost him his 2008 season, and by the time the Rule 5 draft rolled around, the Angels were in no rush to protect him.
The Sox snapped him up, and when he needed Tommy John Surgery three months later, were able to shuffle him off their 40-man roster without any harm having been done.
The Red Sox clearly saw something in Gonzalez to snap him up amongst the scores of Rule 5 eligible players throughout the league, but they would never be able to really evaluate that. He would manage no more than 73 innings in each of the next two seasons, fitting in some winter league ball against lower-level competition, and only ever making it up to Triple-A for five innings at the end of 2011, striking out five, walking two, giving up two hits and one run.
By the end of the year, he was a free agent once again. 27 years old--fast approaching 28--with just five innings to his name above Double-A. Thus ends the dream of a thousand failed prospects.
Not Miguel Gonzalez. A few months later, the Baltimore Orioles came calling, and Gonzalez signed on in part due to the possibility that he could play with his teammates from the Mexican Leagues including none other than Dennys Reyes.
That did not come to pass, as Reyes was promptly released by the Orioles for not showing up to spring training, but Gonzalez persisted. He started the year in Triple-A Norfolk, threw 44 innings of 1.61 ERA ball and then got the call to help a uniquely injured Orioles rotation. Since then, he's started seven games and another 44 innings. That his ERA has more than doubled to 3.71 in his transition to the majors is not something the Orioles can complain about.
This is far from a mark against the Red Sox' front office. Gonzalez is fluky to start, with his peripherals suggesting he's pitching like a starter much closer to a 5.00 ERA. Add in the injury history that kept the Sox from getting a good look at him, and it's hard to criticize the Sox for letting him go after the three years he had here.
Still, it's hard not to think at least for a minute that the Sox wouldn't take the die roll on Gonzalez now with their rotation in its current state.