Three Lead The Pack

Nate Gonzalez, who made the 2007 16U US Olympic baseball team - one of only 18 players who made the team - is considered one of the top catchers in the nation. And college coaches have taken notice.

"Everybody is recruiting Nate," said his summer league coach Matt Gerber, the head man for one of the nation's top summer travel teams - the 17U Orlando Scorpions' Purple team.

"I have received calls from Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, UCF, Boston College, Texas Christian and a few others," said the 17-year-old.

But, according to Nate Gonzalez, three schools lead the rest.

"At the top of my list are Mississippi State, Texas Christian and Vanderbilt," he said. "Their programs are so rich in tradition. And what I am looking for in a program is to get a great education and make it to the next level. And I'm looking for school that will help me get there."

He talked in a little more detail about each school.

Mississippi State
"I know that baseball is the biggest sport at the school. I know that. And their coaching staff is good about developing their players for the next level."

Vanderbilt
"Vanderbilt has had the number 1 draft and number 2 draft (in the first round) the last two years. And I know at Vanderbilt I will get a very good education."

TCU
"They've had something like 30+ draft picks in the last six years."

Although he didn't include a Florida school among his top three, he's not ruling them out.

"I would also go to a Florida school, I just want to get a good education and get a chance to play as well," said Nate, who is an honors student who has a 4.3 weighted grade point average on a 4.0 scale.

Although he's thinking about taking official visits, he hasn't set any up at this point in his recruiting.

"I definitely want to take official visits to Mississippi State and Vanderbilt," said Nate. "Mississippi State would like for me to visit after this week (is over). I want to talk to my father about it."

No matter who he visits and ultimately signs with, one criteria about his choice of a college is paramount.

"One of the reasons I want to go to college is to get better," said Nate, a player his dad, Jose, says is driven to improve himself. "In summer ball you play every day, but it's not practicing every day. I really want to find a coach that I can work with every day and help me with the little things. I am really, really excited about that."

Despite making the 16U US Olympic baseball team that won a gold medal in Venezuela, Nate didn't rest on his laurels due to that prestigious honor.

"Over the last year, I have really tried to develop my arm strength," said Nate. "Last year, I was around 2.0 to 2.1 (down to second base). Recently, when I went down to Perfect Game, I was at 1.9. And I'm getting it lower and lower each time.

"That's the thing about baseball, each day you have to try to get better and better. You can't be complacent. And I'm working with my coach and other people to try and get better."

Another strength of his is his natural leadership ability.

"I think my leadership is a definite strength of mine - the way I vocalize and by my actions," said Nate, who was selected as one of the tri-captains on the 16U US Olympic team. "If you can lead people by actions and get them pumped up that is a very positive thing. I really take pride in that. You don't want a quiet catcher behind the plate, you always want to be helping out the other players."

As for his hitting, Nate admitted he's in a little bit of a slump, but he's not going to allow that to affect his overall game.

"The last week and a half I haven't really been hitting the ball, but I'm usually a pretty good hitter," said the 5-10, 190-pounder. "But right now, what I would rather focus on is being a good defender. As for the offense, I don't stress out about that because when you stress you take it to the field and I don't want to do that. But I have confidence in my ability at bat. So, I'm not going to worry about the result, but take a good swing every time."

And considering the number of colleges that are showing serious interest in him, his way of doing things seems to be working really well.


Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by email at swindoll@genespage.com.


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