Q&A with Michigan State commit: Andrew Gonzalez, RHP, Walled Lake Western, 2014

By Mike Penn
Director of Scouting

Andrew Gonzalez, RHP, Walled Lake Western, 2014

No. 4 Andrew Gonzalez made a considerable jump this past summer.  We saw him early on in a Pastime Tournament in June where he was only 82-85mph.  He had a good breaking ball, loose arm, and projection but Gonzalez made significant jumps in velocity and stuff down the road.  Now he will sit in the mid to upper 80's with the fastball consistently and will occasionally pop 90 or 91 mph.  Gonzalez will be one to watch over the next two years.

PBR: Where have you decided to attend college and why did you make this choice?

Gonzalez: I have verbally committed to play baseball for Coach Boss, at Michigan State University, following high school graduation in 2014. I'm just starting my junior year in high school at Walled Lake Western. I'll primarily be a pitcher at MSU.

I have attended camps at Central Michigan, Adrian College and Ball State. I just loved the school spirit and energy at Michigan State, even before playing baseball there was an option for me. I love the beautiful campus, the huge number of academic programs, clubs and activities. The baseball team's outstanding performance in the Big Ten and nationally, over the last few years, was also important in my decision also.

While participating in the 2012 prospects camp at MSU, I got to meet Coach Boss and his coaching staff. I went on an informal visit, got to see the baseball facilities, was introduced to the athletic and academic support team, and attended a football game with the current baseball players and a few other prospects. That night, on the way home, I told my Dad this was my number one choice.

PBR: What other schools were you considering?

Gonzalez: Ball State's Coach Rich Maloney made us a very generous offer, which made it very difficult to turn his program down. I feel he's a great coach, and I really felt comfortable hanging out with his staff and the present players. One of the great pieces of advise I got when preparing to make this critical decision was to "take the money out of the process, go where you feel a strong passion to play."

PBR: Was distance from home a factor in your decision?

Gonzalez: Distance from home was a small factor, but still a factor. Its nice to be within an hour of home while still playing for a great program; easier to make quick trips on some weekends, also allows my family to see me play more often.

PBR: Where did the coaches first see you? How did your relationship develop with their coaching staff?

Gonzalez: MSU Associate Head Coach and Pitching Coach, Mark Van Ameyde, saw me pitching at the 2012 Gross Pointe Showcase. He told me at the MSU camp that he was just getting ready to leave Gross Pointe when he saw me warming up and decided to watch for a while. Coach Van Ameyde saw me a few more times during the summer season, in Georgia and Ohio. Coach Graham Sikes, MSU's Recruiting Coordinator, and Head Coach Jake Boss saw me at the MSU prospects camp late in the summer. I spoke with all of them at the Notre Dame game. I call Coach Sikes every so often to let him know how I'm doing. I'll invite them to watch some of my high school outings if it works with the schedules.

PBR: What role do the coaches expect you to play your first year on campus?

Gonzalez: I've been told that I'll be used primarily as a pitcher. I like to play the outfield when not pitching, but in college its all about specializing in your strongest skills.

PBR: What is your biggest strength as a player and how do you feel that will help your team?

Gonzalez: I'm a strong competitor. Whether I'm pitching, playing the field, batting, or sitting on the bench, I want to do anything within my power to help the team get that win. As a pitcher, I control the tempo of the game, but I work hard to stay focused on hitting my spots and remain aware of the changing game situation. I know it requires a team effort to be competitive. I cheer the team in success and try to pick up my teammates when they plays don't go our way.

PBR: Who do you play for in the summer and what was your most memorable experience from this past summer?

Gonzalez: This will be my second year playing for Coach Shawn Maloney and the Detroit Metro Stars (National) team. Last year I played up on the 17U team; this year I will once again play up on the 18U team. Among my most memorable experiences are traveling to Georgia for the Perfect Game tournament.

PBR: Now that you have your commitment out of the way, what are your goals both individually and for the team going into your senior season?

Gonzalez: I plan to spend my junior year strengthening my academic preparation for college, taking the ACT a couple more times, and building my physical strength. I will most likely be the lead pitcher for Coach Mike Larges' Walled Lake Western pitching staff. I'll have the responsibility to not only help the team with my arm, glove and bat, but also mentor future pitchers as well.

Travel ball with the 18U Metro Stars is going to be a lot of fun, playing a nationwide tournament schedule and spending time off the field with my teammates, knowing that I have a college baseball home (and scholarship) already in place. In fact, 7 out of 13 players on our team have college commitments (2 to MSU, 2 to Mich, 2 to Ball State and one to SVSU). Five of us on that team are juniors.