That’s not a knock on the talents of the Cedar Rapids Kernels first baseman-designated hitter. He’s a very large man (6-foot-6, 264 pounds) who can hit a baseball a very long way.
That was proven again Tuesday night when he put one into the net in front of the scoreboard in right-center field at Veterans Memorial Stadium for a solo home run in the Kernels’ 4-2 win over Peoria. As a member of the Beloit Snappers in 2011, the lefty swinger hit quite possibly the longest home run to right field at this ballpark, a majestic drive that bounced onto Rockford Road SW and onto and over the roof of a building across the street from the stadium.
“Of course, I remember that one,” Gonzales said.
The thing with the big Californian is he’s in his sixth year of professional baseball with the Twins and would have to be added to their 40-man major league roster at the end of the season to remain property of them. Being a 25-year-old in low-Class A, that surely won’t happen.
So he’ll become a free agent, eligible for anyone to sign.
“I really don’t know,” Gonzales said, when asked about the six-year minor-league free agent thing. “They keep inviting me to spring training, I’m going to show up. That’s how it works. That’s how it goes with the job … I just want to play. As long as they keep giving me a jersey, I want to keep playing.”
His light-tower power should enable Gonzales, a ninth-round pick of Minnesota all the way back in 2008, to hook up with someone, perhaps even the Twins again. Injuries the past two seasons have absolutely short-circuited his career.
He played 72 games last season for high-Class A Fort Myers before dislocating and tearing the UCL in his left elbow while tagging a runner at first base after picking a throw up the line. He was back with the Miracle this season, but broke the hamate bone in his right hand on a swing just 18 games in.
He had surgery to remove it, rehabbed and was assigned to Cedar Rapids upon returning. Tendinitis has landed him on the DL here as well.
The guy has had zero luck.
“Stay healthy. That’s the big thing,” Gonzales said. “I’m going to play as much as I can when I’m healthy. Unfortunately the last two years, I’ve had some awful injuries.”
Starter Miguel Sulbaran went six good innings to get the pitching win for the Kernels, who improved their minor-league best overall record to 84-48. Christian Powell and Dallas Gallant finished up, with Gallant notching his first save.
After the game, pitching coach Gary Lucas revealed the club’s starting rotation for the first round of the Midwest League playoffs next week, a best-of-3 series that likely will be against Quad Cities. Right-hander Jose Berrios will start Game 1 in Davenport, with lefty Brett Lee the second game and righty Tim Atherton an if-needed third game, both in Cedar Rapids.
“We have seven guys to choose from who have really done well here in the last month,” Lucas said. “I think the three we are going with are deserving because they’ve been here most of the year and have been the most consistent of late. They’re the guys in the first series that can kind of set the tone for us.”
The Kernels host Kane County on Wednesday night at 6:35.
Here is the game boxscore:
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