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In the Spotlight - Adrian Gonzalez

By Jason Blasco

    Adrian Gonzalez was sitting in his living room when he received the call that would change his life.  The call that informed him that he was the first overall pick of the 2000 amateur draft by the Florida Marlins.

    "That was one of the most memorable moments of my career.  The biggest thing about being the number one overall pick is the tradition you follow, with players like Chipper Jones and Alex Rodriguez,"said Gonzalez. 
  
    This season at Kane County, Gonzalez has become a nightmare for the Midwest League opponents, as Gonzalez has torched his opponents with a .455 batting average, one homerun, and seven RBI's.  
 
    It wasn't that long ago, back at Eastlake High in San Diego, that the professional scouts didn't show quite as much interest in Gonzalez.  One summer, between his junior and senior year, that all changed.  He played semi-pro baseball in Mexico, where he was one of the youngest players in a league that had players in their twenties.  In addition to that, he worked tirelessly by lifting weights and began to grow a little bit, as well.    
 
    "That really helped out my senior year in high school.  I went from seeing 90 MPH pitches in Mexico to seeing 85 MPH pitches when I came back to playing high school competition," said Gonzalez.

    Senior year at Eastlake, Adrian and his team began to dominate and eventually won the city championship, which became one of his most memorable moments.  

    "I had won other championships before the high school championship.  That was one of those moments that I felt like I was old enough that I could savor," said Gonzalez.  

    Not only did Gonzalez win the championship, but he also received several individual awards as well.  Gonzalez was named San Diego Player of the Year both his junior and senior season, and the State of California Player of Year his senior year. 
 
    Shortly after being drafted and shortly after signing for three million dollars, he was assigned to the Gulf Coast League.  For Gonzalez, the first week was an experience.  
 
    "The first week I was hitting around .100.  I think I was feeling the pressure of being the first round pick.  With all the hype of being the first pick, you want to go out there and hit four homeruns your first game.  You just can't do that though.  I got some help from some of the coaches on my footwork, and my dad told me some things I was doing wrong," said Gonzalez.

    Gonzalez's dad knows what he is talking about.  His dad was a top professional baseball player in Mexico and played until his early 40's.  He also has a brother that was drafted in the 30th round by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. 
    After receiving the helpful advice on his footwork from his coaches and adjusting to professional baseball, Gonzalez began to turn things around.  
 
    "All of a sudden from that first week, my batting average kept climbing.  I then got up around .300," said Gonzalez.

    Shortly after hitting around .295, 10 doubles, and a team leading 30 RBI's in the Gulf Coast League, Gonzalez then took the next step by moving up to Utica.  In Utica, he continued to add to his dominance, providing help in the playoffs with his bat. 

    In the 2001 season, all his hard work lifting weights and playing ball in the off-season has paid off.  Gonzalez has virtually assassinated the league, hitting as high as .533, in 28 at-bats.  
 
    "He is very mature for a 19-year-old.  He is advanced in every way thinkable.  Gonzalez is like a guy in triple A already, thinking about different pitches.  With that kind of potential, it is up to him how far he goes," said hitting instructor Matt Winters.  


 

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