Today the Texas Rangers promoted right-handed pitcher Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez and third baseman Joey Gallo to Double-A Frisco after having outstanding first halves with High-A Myrtle Beach. With Myrtle Beach this season, Gonzalez compiled a record of five wins and two losses with a 2.62 ERA while walking 16 and striking out 49.
Gonzalez started playing baseball when he was six years old at the local baseball field across from his house in Delray Beach, Florida.
“I either played shortstop or was an outfielder, somewhere in the corners,” Gonzalez said. “I didn’t start pitching until I was 11 or 12.”
It was around this time he was christened Chi Chi.
“It was a name my great-uncle gave me. My sisters have nicknames too. One of them is nicknamed Nia and the other one is Nanette. I guess he decided to give me one too so I became Chi Chi which has stuck.”
In high school, he added another position to his baseball resume.
“I played at Boca Raton Community High School and played third base when I wasn’t pitching,” Gonzalez said. “I pitched and hit for myself. My freshman year, I played on junior varsity for half the season and then moved up towards the end of the season because our third baseman got hurt so I helped out and played third even though I was a shortstop at the time. I played there for the last week and ended up staying there.”
When it came to looking at colleges, Oral Roberts was at the top of his list.
“I wanted to go to a Division I university and I had a hookup through my coach who used to be a volunteer at Oral Roberts. That’s how I got connected with them,” Gonzalez said. “I liked the pitching coach and the head coach at the time. He was a Team USA pitching coach and I think he won like Coach of the Year three or four years in a row. They’re also a winning team. Going into my freshman year, they had won like 13 conference titles in a row.”
Going into his senior year, Gonzalez started attracting a lot of attention from colleges in the area but decided to stay true to his word.
“My junior year I committed to Oral Roberts. I had offers from a lot of D2s in Florida that were offering me spots but I wasn’t interested. I also had interest from the College of Charleston, UNC Greensboro, and the University of Miami,” Gonzalez said. “By my senior year, I had a lot of D1s interested in me but I didn’t want to de-commit from Oral Roberts.”
Gonzalez posted strong numbers during his time at Oral Roberts, including being named the 2013 Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year, attracting attention from all 30 clubs.
“They all came by and visited with me for a couple of minutes but a few weeks before the draft, my agent told me that there were a couple of teams interested and the Rangers were one of them.”
The Rangers selected Gonzalez in the first round of the 2013 MLB draft with the 23rd overall pick.
“It was a big day for us. I was with my immediate family, my sisters, my parents, my grandparents, a couple of cousins, and uncles. Everyone was so excited. We sat in front of the TV and when my name popped up, it was awesome. It was excitement. I just went through all the emotions at the same time.”
Gonzalez was assigned to Short-Season Spokane before getting promoted to Myrtle Beach by the end of the season. He began the 2014 with Myrtle Beach and he said there were definitely some things for him to work on.
“Early on in the season, I didn’t have the best luck. My coach told me hey, let’s just try to attack the zone more and have the hitters get themselves out instead of me trying to strike everyone out so I started with that,” Gonzalez said. “I got the ball more in the zone and could tell it was getting better and better. I stuck with that and stuck with the plan he gave me and have had more success.”
That success included a no-hit bid in May and has now led to a promotion to Double-A Frisco. Gonzalez said that he tries not to focus on promotions and just work on throwing well.
“I honestly try not to expect anything with going up or down. I just want to play hard and do the best for my team.”