Last season it was Joey Cantillo who came up from rookie ball to pitch for the TinCaps in the final homestand of the regular season.
This year it's Jesus Gonzalez.
Getting that taste of Class A baseball is what Cantillo needed to have a breakout year with Fort Wayne and is now with High-A Lake Elsinore. The TinCaps hope that's the case with Gonzalez, who went five innings in a 9-4 win over the South Bend Cubs in front of an announced crowd of 7,133 at Parkview Field on Thursday.
“He showed me that he can pitch here next year, and the way that he competed, and he went out there just not scared,” pitching coach Jackson Quezada said. “He just goes out there and throws the ball for a strike; that's all you need to do.”
Gonzalez, a 5-foot-10 left-hander from Venezuela, became the first TinCap ever born in 2001 and is now the youngest player in the Midwest League.
Gonzalez went five innings, gave up two hits, a run and threw 40 strikes in 65 pitches to earn the win.
“For me, I saw enough. The way he throws the ball, first time here, he was playing rookie ball and then came right here,” Quezada said. “It's different hitters. They know more, and he's going out there with all of his pitches and did really good.”
Gonzalez utilized his fastball, slider, curveball and changeup Thursday. The Padres' No. 50 prospect throws about 93 mph and hovered around that speed throughout his debut. Gonzalez was 3-3 with a 5.20 ERA in rookie ball this season.
It was a much better performance by Fort Wayne (28-38) than Wednesday's 13-4 drudging. Dwanya Williams-Sutton launched two homers and added four RBI. His first homer was 375 feet to left center, with an exit velocity of 99 mph, to give Fort Wayne a 1-0 lead on the Cubs (36-29) after two innings.
He added a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh to score he and Michael Curry and stretch the lead to 7-1. Later in the inning, Chris Givin doubled on a line drive to score two runs before being called out trying to advance to third.
Williams-Sutton was all over the scoring plays. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the third, his walked scored Chandler Seagle to put Fort Wayne up 2-0. Then, a wild pitch provided scored Jawuan Harris and gave the TinCaps a 3-0 lead.
“We know we're not in the playoff hunt, but we just try to come out every day and have competitive at-bats,” Williams-Sutton said. “Our trainers said don't hang our heads after a bad game, but we came together as a team, the hits were contagious tonight, and hopefully we can win out the rest of the season and make the fans happy.”
TinCaps vs. South Bend
Where: Parkview Field
When: 7:05 p.m.
Pitchers: Ryan Weathers (TinCaps) vs.Cam Sanders (Cubs)
TV: Xfinity 81