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Gomez Finds Familiar Surroundings in Jamestown

June 27, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s been one hectic, up-and-down month for Jammers second baseman Anthony Gomez.

His junior season at Vanderbilt came to a disappointing end in the NCAA Regionals on June 4. With the Commodores in the winners bracket, Vandy needed to beat N.C. State one out of two to advance to the Super Regionals. But a pair of losses by a combined three runs ended the ‘Dores’ season seemingly early.

Jammers second baseman Anthony Gomez is hitting .276 with a .353 OBP through nine games this season.

But, he was drafted the following day in the sixth round by the Miami Marlins with the 197th overall pick. Stay for his senior year or pursue a childhood dream?

He sat on it for a few days.

“It’s tough you know,” Gomez said referring to his decision. “You don’t want to get off to a bad start your team by not signing, but it was a crazy turnaround from losing in regionals to getting drafted. My season had just ended, I wanted to enjoy some time with my friends.”

Who could blame a 21-year-old college student for that? But with Short Season minor league seasons less than two weeks from starting, Gomez was short on time.

“It was obviously exciting to get drafted,” he said. “But I wanted to give it a day or two. Just relax and weigh the options. But, Miami was a good fit and getting drafted in the sixth round was a big compliment. Both of my parents agreed and I signed.”

And exactly two weeks after his season with Vanderbilt had ended, Gomez was batting second as the starting designated hitter on Opening Day for the Jamestown Jammers. He had two hits, a double and drove in a run in his first professional game.

But Gomez, like virtually all other rookies, didn’t know what to expect when starting pro baseball. Luckily for him, as Gomez said, he was joined on the Jammers 2012 roster with a pair of rookie hitters from the Southeastern Conference (SEC) who had just finished up their final college seasons as well. All three were embarking on their first season of pro ball in a bit of a rush. All three just played everyday in the best conference in college baseball and all three were now members of the Jamestown Jammers and the Miami Marlins.

That was Austin Nola from LSU and Cameron Flynn from Kentucky. Nola’s season had actually just ended on June 10 against Stony Brook. Had they won, he wouldn’t have been in Jamestown yet. Flynn’s Kentucky Wildcats season ended where Gomez’s did, in the NCAA regionals, although just one day before Vanderbilt’s. And while Gomez said none of the three were best friends prior to signing, the three quickly became acquainted with each other and flew into Buffalo late Friday night, just three days before Opening Day.

“It’s huge to play with those two guys,” Gomez said. “[Austin] Nola’s a four-year guy at LSU and is one of the great baseball minds I’ve ever met. I just try to pick up anything I can from him. [Cameron] Flynn’s one of the best hitter in the SEC last year. We’re all just feeling things out together, but it’s great to have two guys you’re so familiar with… guys that have the same background as you.”

And familiarity is always an issue at this level. For most of these players, it’s their first year of pro ball. In fact, it is for 10 of the 30 players on Jamestown’s roster (nine from college and one was injured for first two years). In addition, more than half of the other 20 players have little experience at the GCL (rookie) level. Very few guys on this roster are used to the everyday grind.

But while that’s been the toughest adjustment for Gomez, it certainly isn’t something he’ll complain about.

“It’s fun playing baseball everyday,” he said. “Not worrying about school and to be out with the guys everyday, it’s a new experience and its great.”

Switching from a metal bat to a wooden bat?

“Well it is something, but having (batting practice) everyday helps,” Gomez continued. “It sort of helps shorten the learning curve.”

That learning curve hasn’t appeared to affect the rookie infielder too much yet. Although it’s still early, Gomez is batting .308 with four RBI in six games (through June 25). He’s been a key cog to the lineup and has done exceptionally well in clutch situations. He’s hitting .667 (4-for-6) with runners in scoring position.

“You don’t want to worry about your average at this point,” Gomez said. “Right now, it’s about making sure you have quality at bats. I want to get used to the pitching and get used to playing second base.”

Gomez played shortstop and hit .353 in 63 games for Vandy. Remarkably, he had 57 RBI this year while only grabbing 15 extra-base hits. He’s proven to be a solid clutch hitter with plenty of speed to use at the top of the lineup.

But, already off of a long college season, time will tell if Gomez and his rookie teammates can handle the task of playing for another two-plus months.

“The game’s still 60 feet, six inches,” Gomez quipped. “I’m still getting used to the grind and used to the bus rides — getting ready to move from town to town in a hurry. You’re on your own much more than in college.”

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Opening Day Wrapup

June 19, 2012 Leave a comment

It wasn’t pretty, but certainly to be somewhat expected, as some sloppy baseball from both teams ended in an 8-5 win for Mahoning Valley. Playing from behind most of the night, Jamestown erased deficits of 3-0 and 4-3 before finally falling short on Opening Day.

The good: Kentrell Dewitt went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and 2 RBI and rookie Anthony Gomez also had two hits in his professional debut.

The bad: Jamestown allowed 10 hits, walked seven and allowed three errors.

Game was over when: Juan Romero broke a 4-4 with a 3-run homerun that really looked like a routine fly that carried out of the park.

Grades

Yeison Hernandez (2B) C+ — Sure he went 0-for-5 but Hernandez hit the ball hard, just happened to not be in the right places. He led off the game with a shot up the middle, but was absolutely robbed by Jose Ramirez who went to his right and threw across his body all in one motion to nab Hernandez. Hit the ball on the ground, he’ll be fine.

Anthony Gomez (DH) B+ — Had two hits in his pro debut including an RBI double that scored Dewitt in the third. Also scored a run.

Austin Nola (SS) C- — 0-for-4 with a walk and also had an error. Tough to be too hard on the kid, didn’t arrive in Jamestown until two days ago. Should be the No. 3 hitter and played fine at short otherwise.

Matt Juengel (3B) B- — 1-for-5 with a nice piece of hitting in the fifth when Angel Espada put the hit-and-run on. Juengel ripped one into center with Gomez running. Mahoning’s CF Aaron Siliga’s throw to third was errant, allowing a run to score and moved Juengel to third.

Viosergy Rosa (1B) B — Rosa worked two great at bats for walks in his first two plate appearances. Did pretty well on two tough grounders, but did boot one to his right then went down for an error, but didn’t come back to haunt Jamestown.

Jesus Solorzano (RF) B — Went 1-for-3 and was also hit by a pitch. Came around to score twice. Wasn’t tested defensively.

Jose Behar (C) B- — A lot of good and not so good from Behar. Did a nice job behind the plate early as Helpi Reyes was rather wild. Threw out a runner on a wild pitch and also picked a runner off trying to steal third. Also allowed a passed ball to let a run score and went 0-for-3 at the plate. Overall, Behar looks like a fine defensive catcher. Jamestown will take any offense they can get from him.

Kentrell Dewitt B — Same goes for Dewitt. He cracked two doubles, knocked in two runs, walked and scored. But he badly misplayed a ball in the top of the fifth that probably could have been kept to a single, but he dove and the ball got by him moving the runner to third. Would have been an A+ if not for that.

Juancito Martinez (CF) C — Went 1-for-4 with a RBI. Didn’t notice defensively.

Helpi Reyes (SP) D — I don’t like to give F’s, especially not on Opening Day, but Reyes simply didn’t have it today. 5 hits, 1 walk in three innings for three earned runs. A two out walk to Siliga on four pitches in the first (with nobody on) derailed  him early.

Jake Esch (RP) B — One inning of work, allowed a single, which turned into a double play one batter later.

Beau Wright (RP) D+ — Wright took the loss but was the victim of bad luck and was probably left in a bit too long. Also wasn’t helped out by his defense who committed three errors in his two innings. Allowed a three-run homerun to Juan Romero, but that was a routine fly ball that carried out. Wright can throw, but has to cut down the walks.

Miguel Fermin (RP) B+ — Fermin looked outstanding retiring the first five he saw with ease, but then grooved a fastball to Romero, which was crushed for a homerun. Still, he’s been pitching for three months. He might have a future as a short reliever.

Bryan Berglund (RP) B — Berglund came on in the ninth and threw a scoreless inning, while walking one.