Pirates Select Former NMSU Infielder Nick Gonzales Seventh Overall
From college baseball walk-on, to NCAA All-American, and now to a top-10 MLB Draft pick, former NMSU infielder Nick Gonzales saw his dreams come to fruition as he was selected seventh overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Gonzales now becomes the highest drafted player from the Las Cruces-El Paso area, as Steve Kaplowitz reported last week.
The 21-year-old native of Vail, Ariz., is characterized as a power hitter among the entire 2020 MLB Draft class. Through his first two seasons with the Aggies, Gonzales proved to be an up-and-coming college player. He hit .347/.425/.596 in his freshman season and slashed .432/.532/.773 with 16 home runs as a sophomore, earning him the NCAA batting title. At the time, however, critics cited NMSU's altitude and argued that WAC teams have been easier to play for Gonzales.
But the Aggies infielder silenced a lot of doubters with his dominance in the Cape Cod League. He slashed .351/.451/.630 along with seven home runs through 153 plate appearances while finishing as the league's MVP. His junior season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite baseball trimming down its amateur draft from 40 rounds to just five, Gonzales was quickly taken in the first round and didn't have to worry about the new guidelines. Round 1 of the draft will wrap up on Wednesday, with rounds 2-5 set for Thursday.