Walk-off slam caps Gonzales' 2-homer game

September 1st, 2021
Chris Robertson/MiLB.com

Topping a three-homer, eight-RBI performance would seem to be impossible. proved otherwise.

Two days removed from a monstrous performance, MLB's No. 66 overall prospect went deep twice more, including a walk-off grand slam to cap a seven-RBI effort that powered High-A Greensboro past Hudson Valley, 9-7, at First National Bank Field.

Gonzales closed August with a colossal wave of offense, going deep six times and driving in 16 runs in his last six games.

"I almost feel like I'm back in college again," Gonzales said. "I'm out there having a blast and not worrying about any particular outcomes. I'm trusting that all the work I do before games will pay off and lately, that's how it's been. The season has gone so quickly. I'm just enjoying being around my teammates and everything that comes with it."

Trailing by two runs in the bottom of the ninth, Gonzales took a called strike before clearing the left-center-field fence for his 16th home run and fifth in his last 12 at-bats. It was the second grand slam of his career, both coming in the last three weeks. The tater put a capper on what had already been another strong evening for the 22-year-old.

"[Renegades pitcher Derek Craft] was throwing in the upper 90s," the No. 4 Pirates prospect said. "I knew I was going to get a fastball at some point in the at-bat. He threw me a good slider for the first pitch and then came back with the fastball. I told myself to hit it hard and not miss it. I wasn't trying to hit a homer.

"I knew inside it was going to leave the yard, but I was also skeptical that it was actually a home run. When it left the park, I was just so excited."

Gonzales opened the scoring with an RBI single and extended the Grasshoppers' lead with a two-run homer in the third. Hudson Valley pitchers kept him off the bases in each of his next two at-bats before falling victim to his 10th round tripper this month.

"Hitting a walk-off grand slam is something that every kid dreams about," Gonzales said. "It was so much fun and exciting to beat a team we're battling for a playoff spot with."

While last year's seventh overall pick was enjoying a strong professional debut through July, he has put together arguably the best offensive performance in the Minors this month. Gonzales batted .364 with a 1.176 OPS, 28 RBIs, 24 runs and 21 extra-base hits in 24 games in August, outdoing a majority of his offensive statistics through the first three months of the season.

With a month to go, and despite missing more than a month with a shoulder injury, the New Mexico State product has put together a .303/.369/.567 slash line, 47 RBIs, 44 runs and 38 extra-base hits in the first 66 games of his career.

"I've learned to trust my abilities and just go out there and play," Gonzales said of his first professional season. "You know you're a good player and you just need to trust what got you here. When you have confidence and have fun, the game just comes to you."

MLB's No. 15 overall prospect Anthony Volpe went deep for Hudson Valley, which had taken the lead in the top of the ninth on consecutive home runs.

So, does Gonzales have another epic performance in store to kick off September after going 7-for-9 with five homers and 15 RBIs in two consecutive games?

"We'll see. We'll see," he said with a laugh. "I can't make any promises on that."