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Gio González

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Giovany Aramis González

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[edit] Biographical Information

Left-handed pitcher Gio González was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the first round of the 2004 amateur draft. He was the 38th player selected, in the supplemental first round and was signed by scout Jose Ortega.

González was let go by his high school, Monsignor Pace, when they were ranked #1 in the nation late in 2004. He had transferred to the school prior to his senior year and became the team's star hurler. His mother, Yolanda, got into an argument with the coach, Tom Duffin, about the limited playing time for Gio's younger brother, Max. After that conflict, both brothers were dismissed from the team.

He was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies following the 2005 season as part of a trade that brought Jim Thome to the White Sox. A little over a year later, he returned to Chicago in a deal that sent Freddy Garcia to the Phillies.

The southpaw made 12 starts between Bristol and Kannapolis in his first year of professional baseball. He surrendered just one home run and fanned 63 opponents. He won 5 games with a 1.87 ERA for Kannapolis in 2005, and was promoted to Winston-Salem, where he tacked on 8 more wins. Gonzalez struggled with control during his time with the Reading Phillies in 2006. He walked 81 opponents in 154 1/3 innings pitched, but was still awarded a spot in the Futures Game.

The Miami native's return to the White Sox organization was a success. Prior to the season, Baseball America ranked Gonzalez the third best prospect in Chicago's system. He earned a 9-7 record and a 3.18 ERA with the Birmingham Barons in 2007. In 150 innings, Gonzalez struck out 185 batters, gave up just 116 hits, and lowered his walk total to 57. He was named a Southern League All-Star. Gonzalez had averaged better than 10 strikeouts per nine innings in four minor league seasons at that point.

In January of 2008, González was traded to the Oakland Athletics with Fautino De Los Santos and Ryan Sweeney in return for Nick Swisher. He made his major league debut for the Athletics on August 6, 2008, in a losing start against the Toronto Blue Jays. He was only 1-4, 7.68 in 10 games in his first taste of the big leagues, but would improve steadily from thereon.

Gonzalez spent his first extended time in the majors with the Athletics in 2009, appearing in 20 games - 17 of them starts - with a record of 6-7, 5.75; he struck out 108 batters in 98 2/3 innings, displaying the kind of electric stuff that had made scouts drool since his debut as a professional. In 2010, he took a huge step forward with a record of 15-9, 3.23 in 33 starts and pitching over 200 innings. He was 8th in the 2010 AL in ERA (between CC Sabathia and Jon Lester), tied for 10th in wins and second in walks (92, one behind C.J. Wilson).

By now considered the ace of Oakland's staff, he was named to the All-Star team in 2011 when he almost repeated his previous season. In spite of playing in front of a struggling team, he went 16-12, 3.12 in 32 games, and struck out a career-high 197 batters over 202 innings. He did lead the American League in walks with 91, however. He was also among the league leaders in ERA (10th), wins (tied for 4th behind Justin Verlander, Sabathia and Jered Weaver) and strikeouts (9th, between Weaver and Dan Haren). In the 2011 All-Star Game, Gio relieved Alexi Ogando in the 8th with a 5-1 deficit for the AL. He struck out the only batter he faced, pinch-hitter Jay Bruce. The AL failed to rally in the 9th and lost.

The Athletics were in a rebuilding mode, though, and were willing to deal some of their good young pitching in return for a haul of young players. Gonzalez was ardently pursued by a number of teams, but it was the Washington Nationals who won the sweepstakes for the young star on December 22nd, giving up four top prospects in return - Ps Brad Peacock, Tom Milone and A.J. Cole and C Derek Norris. On January 15, 2012, the Nats announced that they had signed Gonzalez to a 5-year deal wirth $42-million, with two additional option years. He got off to an excellent time with his new team and in May of 2012 was named the National League Pitcher of the Month, succeeding teammate Stephen Strasburg, who had won the honor in April. He had gone 5-0, 2.25 during the month while striking out 45 in 32 innings. He was named to the All-Star team for the second straight year. On August 8th, he pitched a complete game over the Houston Astros for his 14th win of the season while also hitting his first career homer, a two-run shot off Armando Galarraga that put the Nats ahead to stay in the 2nd inning, on their way to a 4-3 win. It was the first time he had pitched 9 innings in his career, as his other complete game, with Oakland in 2010, had come in an 8-inning loss. On August 13th, he picked up his 15th win of the season in beating the San Francisco Giants, 14-2; that tied the Nationals' team record for most wins in a season. His 17th win on August 31st came when he threw his first career shutout, defeating the St. Louis Cardinals, 10-0. On September 22nd, he defeated the Milwaukee Brewers, 10-4, to become the major leagues' first twenty-game winner. He was the first pitcher to reach that milestone in Nationals' history, and matched the franchise record for wins, set by Ross Grimsley with the Montreal Expos in 1978.

On April 25, 2013, he gave up only one hit over 8 innings in beating the Cincinnati Reds, 8-1, with Rafael Soriano adding a hitless 9th inning for a combined one-hitter. Jordan Zimmermann repeated the feat the next day, pitching a complete game one-hitter, 1-0, over the Reds. Throughout that season, Gonzalez's name was linked to the Biogenesis Laboratories scandal, but when MLB's investigation was completed and suspensions were handed out to 13 players on August 5th, he was not linked to any wrongdoing. On September 9th, Gio pitched a complete game one-hitter in defeating the New York Mets, 9-0, backed by five homers from his teammates at Citi Field. The only hit was a soft single by PH Zach Lutz in the 7th that landed on the first base foul line, inches away from being a harmless foul ball. His record was only 11-8 at the end of the year but his 3.36 ERA in 32 starts was quite good, even if it was his highest in four seasons. He also struck out 192 batters in 195 2/3 innings.

In 2014, Gonzalez started the season for the second straight year by hitting a homer in his first start; in 2013, he had connected off Kevin Slowey of the Miami Marlins on April 3rd, and this season he did it off Bartolo Colon of the New York Mets on April 2nd. He was the winner both years, 3-0 in 2013 and 5-1 in 2014.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 2-time All-Star (2011 & 2012)
  • NL Wins Leader (2012)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 3 (2010-2012)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 1 (2012)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 2 (2010 & 2011)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 1 (2012)

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