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Paul Gonzalez

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Richard Paul Gonzalez

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[edit] Biographical Information

Paul Gonzalez had a globe-trotting baseball career. A native of Texas, he played seven years in the USA (1990-1996), reaching AAA. He became an Australian citizen and spent nine seasons in the Australian leagues from 1992-2004. He played for the Australian national team from 1997 through 2004. He also spent time in both Italy and Japan. Sources alternatively list him as Gonzalez and Gonzales.

[edit] 1987-1996: Amateur Career, US minors, Australia

Gonzalez starred for the US in the 1987 World Junior Championships, going 9 for 18 with a double, triple, two homers, 11 walks, two steals, 9 runs and 8 RBI in 7 games. He led the team in runs, hits (tied), homers (tied), RBI and walks. The US won Silver and Gonzalez was honored as the tournament MVP.

Gonzalez was a Southwest Conference All-Conference outfielder, prompting the San Diego Padres to pick him in the 10th round of the 1990 amateur draft. He went 1 for 4 with the Spokane Hawks in 1990 but spent the bulk of his first pro season with the Charleston Rainbows, hitting .242/.354/.442. Though he played under 70 games with the team, he tied for the lead with 11 home runs. An outfielder in college, he played third base for Charleston.

In 1991, Paul helped the High Desert Mavericks win the California League title in their first season. He batted .267/~.349/.480 and smacked 31 doubles. That winter, San Diego sent Gonzalez to the Australian Baseball League. He hit .288/.355/.464 for the Brisbane Bandits and fell in love with a girl from Brisbane. The romance led him to become an Australian citizen eventually.

Gonzalez moved up to AA in 1993 and hit .255/~.329/.410 for the Wichita Wranglers. His 29 errors led Texas League third basemen andhe struck out 124 times, but his 15 homers were second on the team, ahead of several future major leaguers. In 1994, Paul bounced between Wichita (.242/.331/.405 in 73 games), the Las Vegas Stars (2 for 13, 2 BB, 2 K), and, moving to the Chicago White Sox chain, the Prince William Cannons (.256/.323/.333 in 24 games).

In 1995, he hit .207/~.283/.314 only in 92 games for Prince William and .269 in 9 outings for the Birmingham Barons. Returning to Brisbane for the 1995-1996 Australian Baseball League, Gonzalez batted .288/.377/.481. In his last year in the US, Paul batted .256 and slugged .491 for the Abilene Prairie Dogs, helping them win the Texas-Louisiana League title. Gonzalez was second on the team with 14 homers, trailing Rod Brewer.

[edit] 1996-2004: Australia, Japan, Italy, international events

In the 1996-1997 Australian Baseball League, Gonzalez produced at a .323/.451/.618 clip with 15 homers and 54 RBI in 59 games. He tied Clayton Byrne for third in home runs behind Brendan Kingman and Ronny Johnson, tied Gary White for 4th in slugging, was third in RBI behind Johnson and Kingman, third in walks (40) and 4th in OBP. He made the league All-Star team at third base.

Joining the Australian national team, Gonzalez dazzled in the 1997 Intercontinental Cup. He hit .571/.538/1.250 with 8 runs, 4 doubles, 5 homers and 18 RBI in 8 games while playing error-free ball at third base. He led the tournament in average, 100 points over runner-up Greg Jelks. He was third in homers behind Jelks and Orestes Kindelan, one ahead of Yoshinobu Takahashi. He tied Jelks and Andrew Scott for second in hits (16), two behind Jason Tyner. Gonzalez led in RBI, two ahead of Takayuki Takabayashi. He helped Australia win a Bronze Medal, finishing behind Japan and Cuba. He was named to the tournament All-Star team at third base and won MVP honors.

A dispute with the Bandits sidelined Gonzalez for the early part of the 1997-1998 Australian Baseball League campaign. He returned to hit 17 homers in 32 games, with 32 runs and 33 RBI, batting .278/.403/.765. He finished 4th in circuit clouts behind Kingman, Jelks and Adam Burton. In the 1998 Baseball World Cup, Paul hit .222/.370/.472 with 12 runs and 10 RBI in 10 games as his walks and power compensated for his low batting average. Gonzalez played in Italy in 1998, batting .385/.513/.758 in Serie A1 for Semenzato Casa d'Aste Rimini. In 48 games, he scored 63 runs, drew 46 walks, homered 18 times and drove in 63 while stealing five bases in five tries. He tied Massimo Fochi for the most home runs in Serie A1. He hit .417/.632/.833 in the semifinals but just .167/.318/.389 in the finals as Rimini fell short.

Phil Dale encouraged Gonzalez to leave Brisbane for the Melbourne Monarchs. Paul fared well in his new home, hitting .311/.478/.534 in 1998-1999. He led the loop in walks (30) and OBP, beating out MVP Burton in both departments. He was the All-Star third baseman for the second time in his career.

In the 1999 Intercontinental Cup, Gonzalez hit .290/.395/.387, playing mostly left field as Kingman manned third base for Australia. Australia won the title, beating out Cuba in the Gold Medal game. He was 1 for 4 with a double, walk and a RBI in the historic finale, the first major championship Australia had won.

Gonzalez signed with the Orix BlueWave but only played eight games in 1999 in Japanese Baseball, going 3 for 16 with a double, homer, 7 strikeouts and no walks as a 1B/OF/DH; he was far behind Ichiro Suzuki, Yoshitomo Tani, So Taguchi, Troy Neel, Harvey Pulliam, Yasuo Fujii and Chris Donnels on the Orix depth chart at those positions.

Gonzalez hit .344 for the Queensland Rams in the 1999-2000 International Baseball League of Australia, only playing eight games. The third baseman for Australia in the 2000 Olympics, he batted .214/.267/.464, striking out in 12 of 28 at-bats, though he did lead Australia with two home runs. His 7 RBI edged Dave Nilsson by one for the Aussie lead.

Gonzalez struggled in the 2001 Baseball World Cup, hitting .200/.259/.280 as a DH-LF. He was the top batter in the 2002 Claxton Shield, producing at a .476/.600/.857 clip with 8 RBI in six games for Queensland. The next year, he had six errors in seven games in the Claxton Shield and batted just .208/.345/.292. In the 2004 Claxton Shield, the Texas native hit .320/.438/.600

In the 2004 Olympics, Gonzalez backed up Brett Tamburrino in left field for Australia, going 3 for 15 with two home runs. In the semifinals, Gonzalez and SS Rodney van Buizen let a pop by Michihiro Ogasawara fall in between them to let Japan rally against Chris Oxspring. One of his homers came in the Gold Medal game, as Paul went deep against Norge Vera in the 5th inning in a 6-2 loss. Gonzalez left that game after six innings but Australia had its first Silver Medal in baseball Olympics history.

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