By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO April 27, 2007 The road to becoming a Major League Baseball player is usually filled with many stops along the way.
Players who are drafted out of college by one of the 30 Major League teams often spend a least a couple of seasons improving their game in the minor leagues.
Two current minor league players who are working hard to someday achieve that goal of reaching the big leagues recently spent some time working out at Pro Prospects Training Center in Monticello.
Eddie Gonzalez, who spent the 2004 and 2005 seasons playing for the Sullivan Spartans of the Collegiate Baseball League, and Travis Garcia have been working on their swings and keeping in baseball shape at Pro Prospects. Gonzalez and Garcia played for the Chillicothe (Ohio) Paints of the independent Frontier League last season and will play for the Paints again this summer.
Helping the teammates with their preseason training is Jared Carrier, General Manager of Pro Prospects and Head Coach/GM of the Sullivan Spartans.
“We videotape their training sessions and then give them a DVD so they can see what they are doing and where they can improve,” Carrier said.
Gonzalez, who joined the Paints in the middle of last season after playing for the River City Rascals, is happy to be training with his former coach.
“That’s a great man over there,” said Gonzalez, as he pointed his bat at Carrier who was setting up a pitching machine prior to a training session last Thursday evening at Pro Prospects. “I can call him up if I’m having a hitting problem and he can tell me how to adjust my swing without even being there.”
Gonzalez, who worked at the Swan Lake Resort & Hotel in Swan Lake and was also employed as a Pro Prospects summer camp instructor when he played for the Spartans in ’04 and ’05, and Garcia have spent the last two weeks in Sullivan County. They have been completing two-a-day workouts, training for a couple of hours with Coach Mike Marra and the Sullivan County Community College Generals baseball team and then training at Pro Prospects for a few hours later in the day.
They are eager for the Paints’ new season to begin next month. The team’s first game is slated for May 23 and the 96-game season will wrap up in early September.
Last season, Garcia and Gonzalez helped Chillicothe reach the Frontier League’s best-of-five-game championship series.
Garcia, 25, who hails from the Bronx, played at NCAA Division I Iona College and was drafted by the New York Mets in 2003. That year and in 2004, he played for a few of the Mets’ Class A minor league teams, including the Brooklyn Cyclones, Capital City (S.C) Bombers and Port St. Lucie (Fla.) Mets.
Last season, he played shortstop for the Paints and hit 11 home runs.
“We are always working hard on all aspects of the game,” Garcia said. “In the winter, you think about the game a lot. So it’s great to get out now and take some swings.”
Gonzalez, who was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, played for Webber International University in Florida, an NAIA Division I school. During his time with Chillicothe last season, he batted in the .240s and hit three homers. One of those round trippers was a game-winner.
Although his primarily played catcher and shortstop in his two seasons with the Sullivan Spartans, the 23-year-old Gonzalez played all four infield positions for the Paints last season.
“We’re excited to begin the season,” Gonzalez said. “We are going to keep working hard and trying to improve.”
Of course, Garcia and Gonzalez are hoping that their talent combined with their hard work will enable them to someday take the field wearing a Major League uniform.