College | Story | 8/19/2019

Gonzales is PG Summer PoY

Blake Dowson        
Photo: Nick Gonzales (Kettleers.org)

New Mexico State’s Nick Gonzales handles a bat like most kids handle an Xbox controller.

The numbers he put up this year as an Aggie and again as a member of the Cotuit Kettleers in the Cape Cod League this summer are something you pretty much only see in a video game, and his performance on the Cape has earned him the right to call himself the 2019 Perfect Game Summer Collegiate Player of the Year.

In 55 games this spring at New Mexico State, Gonzales had a .432 average (tops in the nation), and was top-five in the conference in runs, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI, on-base, slugging, and walks. His 80 runs and 95 hits were both fourth nationally. His .532 on-base percentage was fifth in the nation and his .773 slugging percentage was third.

After his season was over, he was named a First-Team All-American by Perfect Game.

Gonzales did all that with a chip on his shoulder. He knows the Western Athletic Conference isn’t the SEC. But he also knows he can compete on the same level as anyone in the SEC. That’s why he relished the opportunity to play on the Cape this summer.

“I was just trying to prove I could play, and play at a high level,” Gonzales said of his summer. “Coming here, obviously the competition is very good. I wanted to prove I could do it here. I knew I could, my family knew I could, and my coaches knew I could. I wanted to show that it’s not just the place I play and the conference I play in.”

Truthfully, he didn’t really fit in on the Cape. He stood out. He was first or second in six different offensive categories this summer, including first in runs, hits, doubles, and triples, and second in average and RBI.

In 42 regular season games against the best college pitching in the country, Gonzales scored 39 runs, nine more than anyone else in the league. His 54 hits were five more than anyone else, while his 14 doubles and four triples also paced the league. He tacked on seven home runs, which was sixth on the Cape, and 20 walks.

“I was confident in my swing and my hand speed that I could catch up to anything here,” Gonzales said. “I just needed to see it. So the first few weeks I saw a lot of pitches and wasn’t hitting as well, but I was seeing a lot of pitches and walked a lot. Once I got in a groove, I was able to perform pretty well.”

The amount of confidence in himself and trust in his swing was rooted the past two years at New Mexico State with head coach Brian Green, who just left Las Cruces after this season to become the new head coach at Washington State.

Green was the one who told him he didn’t really fit in. His hand speed was irregular, he said, and he could approach at-bats differently because of that.

That approach stuck with Gonzales, and obviously the results have been good.

“Coach Green back at New Mexico State…we would do drills to let the ball get deep, try to hit the ball as deep as we can,” Gonzales said. “He would set cones out for me and tell me, ‘This is where normal people should swing, but this is where you should swing because your hand speed is so good.’ That’s what I think about when there are two strikes, that I can wait a long time for the ball to get to me, and trust myself to hit it hard.”

After his Cape summer was over, Gonzales said his one goal during his draft-eligible junior year at New Mexico State is to win the conference and get into a Regional.

He’ll head back to school with championship experience, after the Kettleers cut through the Cape Cod League playoffs and won a title this summer.

As you’d imagine, Gonzales led the charge at the plate.

In seven playoff games, Gonzales had a .361 average, led the league in hits (13) and RBI (8), scoring seven runs and adding two doubles and a home run.

When Gonzales first stepped foot on campus as a freshman, he didn’t picture himself having this much success so quickly. From being the WAC Freshman of the Year and a First-Team All-WAC performer his first year to being named an All-American by every outlet that covers baseball in his second season, accolades have come at him hot and heavy.

He’s still just focused on winning games for the Aggies, though.

“I want to win a championship at New Mexico State, win a conference championship. Make it to a Regional and compete in a Regional,” he said. “We have a new head coach who’s going to do a great job and I have faith in him. I’m just going to have as much fun as I can with my family over there, and wherever it takes me through the draft, that’s where it takes me. To be where I am today, if you would’ve told me that two years ago, I would’ve laughed. I’m just blessed and very fortunate.”

Wherever the draft does take him, his summer on the Cape will always be one of his great baseball memories. That’s what everyone says about their time on the Cape. It’s a special place that represents a certain amount of achievement.

To get invited to the Cape is an honor and an opportunity, especially for guys like Gonzales who don’t play in the SEC or ACC.

To get there and show that you are not only the best player in that league, but of any league across the country, that’s special. All while making friends for life.

“It’s an amazing feeling. You come in, everyone’s strangers, and you leave and everyone’s brothers,” Gonzales said of his time on the Cape. “It’s amazing to meet these guys and I feel like I’ve known them my whole life. We’ve gone through great times and rough times together, but everyone competes and fails at the same time here, and we just grind through it.”

Previous Perfect Game Summer Collegiate Players of the Year:

2011: Shaun Cooper
2012: Sean Manaea
2013: Max Pentecost
2014: Phil Bickford
2015: Nick Senzel
2016: Bret Boswell
2017: James Outman
2018: Austin Shenton

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