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Quick change, quick success for Alonzo Gonzalez

Glendale college products makes a quick, smooth adjustment from JUCO ball to minors

September 15, 2012|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com
  • Former Glendale Community College pitcher Alonzo Gonzalez has transitioned well to the minor leagues with the Bluefield Blue Jays.
Former Glendale Community College pitcher Alonzo Gonzalez… (Roger Wilson/Staff…)

Soon after being taken by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2012 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft, Alonzo Gonzalez realized his life had changed drastically.

Not just because of the increased potential to someday make a lucrative living and a name for himself competing at the highest level of his game, which appears to be a realistic aspiration after an impressive minor-league debut for the left-handed pitcher, but in the more immediate sense of going from a college student to a professional baseball player in a matter of weeks.

"Adjusting to that lifestyle, it's definitely something that you as a player kind of just have to come to terms with, that you're not going to have a summer, you're not going to be able to go out all the time just like your buddies back at home can," says Gonzalez, who enjoyed a standout season at Glendale Community College last spring. "This is our job and after games, for the most part, a lot of us are just dead tired."

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But while Gonzalez may have had his last summer of leisure for some time to come, it's likely none of the guys his age back home can say they've been able to do the things Gonzalez has this summer.

"I'm truly blessed to be in the position that I'm in," Gonzalez says. "You get to see a bunch of guys that if you follow baseball, you read about these people you hear about how great they are and people who have signed multi-million dollar deals and you're playing against them.

"Meeting the group of guys [on the team] is great, you're meeting people from all over and I feel like the experience is really one in a million."

Gonzalez made his professional debut on June 26 with the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays in Florida and pitched there for six weeks before being moved up on Aug. 14 to the advanced rookie-ball level in West Virginia with the Bluefield Blue Jays of the Appalachian League.

In Bluefield, he never allowed a run in 12 innings of work there, going 2-0 in back-to-back six-inning starts, while giving up only three hits, striking out nine and walking three.

"I started pitching well and I felt like I really hit my stride toward the last month and a half of the season," says Gonzalez, whose season ended on Aug. 28. "It sucked that it had to end, but I'm happy to say that it ended on a high note and I'm super eager to get back and continue throwing well."

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