The former Harrison High School standout was selected to participate in the TD Ameritrade College Home Run Derby in Omaha, Neb. The event, held Wednesday on the same field that hosts the College World Series, will air nationally the next night on ESPN at 8 p.m.
Gonzalez was drafted out of high school by the Oakland Athletics in the 11th round, but elected to go to Georgia Tech. He put up solid numbers during his freshman season with a .291 average, 37 RBIs and three home runs. He was named a freshman all-American by Louisville Slugger.
Gonzalez didn’t expect to be invited to participate in the home run derby.
“Honestly, it kind of came as a surprise, but I’m definitely excited to head out there,” he said.
The derby will consist of three rounds. Players will attempt to hit as many home runs as they can in each round before recording 10 outs.
For the most part, the college derby follows the same rules as the Major League Baseball’s home run derby, except that balls that reach the warning track do not count as an out. Otherwise, a batted ball that does not clear the fence is an out.
Also, after a player records his 10th out, he will get one attempt to hit a bonus ball that would count as two home runs. The derby will begin with six players, before the field shrinks to four in the second round and the top two in the final round.
Also competing are The Citadel’s Bo Thompson (14 home runs in 2013), Rice’s Michael Aquino (nine), Florida State’s D.J. Stewart (five), Clemson’s Garrett Boulware (eight) and Virginia’s Kenny Towns (seven).
The trip to Omaha will be a brief break in what’s been a busy summer for Gonzalez since Georgia Tech played its final game June 3. He’s currently playing with the Bourne Braves of the Cape Cod Baseball League, a prestigious wood-bat league that includes many of the nation’s top college players. The Cape Cod season lasts through August.
“I love it here,” Gonzalez said from Massachusetts. “I have a great host family, a great team and great teammates. It’s just an awesome atmosphere to be around.”
Gonzalez, who has played baseball each summer since he was 4 years old, said he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’ve never had a summer vacation,” he said. “I’m just playing baseball.”