Athlete Spotlight: Brandon Gonzales
May 4, 2012 by Matthew Fabian
Senior Captain and Ace Pitcher, Gonzales now leads the team into the 2012 baseball season.
A younger Brandon Gonzales found his love of baseball in the Southeast Denver Youth Baseball League, and developed his skill from there. “I found the pride of the game at Southeast Denver, but it wasn’t very competitive,” said Gonzales.
Gonzales then went on to play in a Mexican League where things were turned up a bit in each game. “We traveled around and had to pick up on baseball quickly. Each team seemed to get better than the next,” said Gonzales. It was through this league that Gonzales says he cultivated himself into the player he is today. “I found out that I had a good arm,” said Gonzales, “so, I learned to become a pitcher.” Gonzales then played his way into Thomas Jefferson High School, where he has flourished as a starting pitcher and as an exceptional outfielder.
Straight into his freshman year Gonzales made the Junior Varsity Spartan baseball team. “I wasn’t disappointed about it at all. It was pretty fun being a freshman on JV,” said Gonzales. Though he was known for his arm and defense, he also brings quite the bat to the playing field. Gonzales is a Varsity career .244 hitter and has eight RBI’s. Gonzales brings a very specific approach to batting. “I just wait for the pitch to hit. I also remain calm and cool, otherwise I begin to swing out of my shoes, then I have a focus point each time,” he said.
Yet, all the hype around Gonzales is his defensive mindset and his pitching ability. Gonzales has a fastball ranging in the mid 80’s and a curveball that is deceptive to all hitters. Just this year Gonzales decided to add a circle change-up, which looks like a fastball coming out of the hand but is 10% slower than an actual fastball.“The change-up is truly one of, if not, the most deadly pitch in baseball. It forces the batter to sit back on it, and if they don’t, it is a strike out. If they wait too long it’s a groundout,” said Gonzales. “I’ve changed the batter’s eye level really well and have gotten a lot of outs with it.” Gonzales’ arsenal of pitches brought him the opening day starting job for the Spartans.
Gonzales says he also thoroughly enjoyed playing with former TJ pitcher Kyle Freeland, who was drafted in the 34th round by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011. “Even though I was in the outfield as he pitched, I learned a lot from him. The guy was a great talent and brought a lot to the table. It was hard not to learn from him because he was so good,” said Gonzales.
Head Coach Robby Bales truly noticed the change in Gonzales. “Brandon isn’t the most outspoken leader, but he is a leader on this team. He leads by example by doing all the right things and doing them well,” said Bales.
On March 8, 2012, the Spartans played the Golden Demons, and Gonzales was on the bump for the game. “I was nervous at first,” said Gonzales who had to sit behind pitcher Freeland for the two years before that. “I knew I had the pitches but my nerves were still going. Once I got on the field I really calmed down.” Though TJ didn’t come out with the win, Gonzales still found positives in his first start of the season. “I found that I needed to pitch strikes, not just avoid them hitting the ball,” said Gonzales, who pitched three innings and ended up giving up two runs in the start.
Gonzales is also looking beyond his senior year, as he has already landed a scholarship offer from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley to play football and walk on with baseball.
Even though Gonzales may move on from Thomas Jefferson, his legacy will not. Gonzales has the talent to put his name in the record books and set the example for TJ pitching.