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Yan Gomes

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Yan Gomes is a minor league player who began 2010 in A ball. On May 17, 2012, he became the first major leaguer from Brazil.

Born in Sao Paulo, Gomes grew up in Florida; Andre Rienzo would be the first major leaguer born and raised in Brazil. He hit .481 as a high school junior. Going on to college, he hit .310/.399/.465 as a freshman for the University of Tennessee, starting at first base and backing up J.P. Arencibia at catcher. In 2008, the sophomore batted .316/.398/.446 while replacing Arencibia as the starting catcher. He was second on the team in average behind Kentrail Davis.

Gomes then transferred from the high-profile Southeastern Conference to a NCAA Division II program Barry University. He dominated in 2009, putting up a .405/.480/.775 line with 21 homers, 69 runs and 92 RBI in 55 games. He was named the Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year. He was named the Division II All-American at third baseman by the American Baseball Coaches Association.

The Toronto Blue Jays picked Gomes in the 10th round of the 2009 amateur draft. He was signed by scout Carlos Rodriguez and went 5 for 14 for the GCL Blue Jays then batted .296/.363/.444 for the Auburn Doubledays with 23 doubles and 44 RBI in 60 games. He led the New York-Penn League in RBI and doubles. He played only 75 games in 2010, split between the Lansing Lugnuts of the Midwest League and the Dunedin Blue Jays of the Florida State League. He hit .270/.309/.471 between the two teams, with 23 doubles and 9 homers, splitting time at catcher with top prospect Travis d'Arnaud in the FSL. Both were promoted to the AA Eastern League in 2011, with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. D'Arnaud was named the league's MVP, but Yan also held his own, batting .250/.317/.464 with 18 doubles and 13 homers in 79 games. He also played 20 games at first base that year, as well as 4 games in AAA with the Las Vegas 51s.

He was invited to the Jays' spring training in 2012, and made an excellent impression. With the team rich in catching talent, with Arencibia now holding the starting job in Toronto, and d'Arnaud about to join him, the Jays decided to convert Gomes into a utility player, giving him playing time at first base and third base in addition to occasionally spelling d'Arnaud behind the plate at Las Vegas. He got off to a very good start and after 33 games, was hitting .359/.391/.565. With starting 1B Adam Lind in a huge slump in Toronto, where he was batting .186 and slugging .314, the Jays decided to make a radical move. They sent the veteran Lind down to Las Vegas to try to right his swing, and called up Gomes on May 17th.

Gomes was inserted into the starting line-up at third base against the New York Yankees in his first day with the Blue Jays, thus becoming the first Brazilian to play in the major leagues. He had a very solid debut, going 2 for 3 in a 4-1 win. With 3B Brett Lawrie still having three days to serve on a suspension incurred for slamming his batting helmet to the ground and hitting umpire Bill Miller with it as a result, Gomes had a small opportunity to state his case for a full-time job on the Jays' big league roster. The next day, he homered off Jonathon Niese for his first long ball in The Show. He played 43 games in the majors that first season, hitting .204/.264/.367 with 4 homers and 13 RBI in 98 at-bats. He played 20 games at first base, 9 as a catcher, 8 at third base and 4 in left field, showing his versatility. At Las Vegas, he finished the season at .328/.380/.559, with 29 doubles and 13 homers in 79 games. On November 3rd, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians along with recently-acquired infielder Mike Aviles in return for pitcher Esmil Rogers.

Gomes then was the big name on the Brazilian national team for the 2013 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers but did not remain with them for the 2013 World Baseball Classic itself, as he wanted to prepare for his first full big league season with a new team. The decision paid off as he had a very good year with the Indians in 2013 as the team surprised by reaching the [2013 ALWC|Wild Card Game]]. Gomes opened the year with the AAA Columbus Clippers but was called up after 6 games of hitting .300 with 4 doubles and then played 88 games with Cleveland, gradually taking over for Carlos Santana as the starting catcher while the latter became more of a first baseman. He hit .294/.345/.481 with 18 doubles, 11 homers and 38 RBI, then went 2 for 4 with a double against the Tampa Bay Rays in the Wild Card Game on October 2nd. He had the highest percentage of runners caught stealing among American League catchers, retiring 40.8% of would-be base stealers. On March 29, 2014, the Indians rewarded Yan with a six-year contract for $23 million, clearly indicating that he was considered the catcher of the future.

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