Patrick Teale

Nelson Gomez had a very good debut season last year but he's preparing to be even better going forward.

Nelson Gomez, who signed for a reported $2.25 million as one of the top International free agents in 2014, didn't disappoint in his debut season last year, leading the Dominican Summer League with eleven home runs. As good as he was, however, he learned he still has a lot to work on and he did exactly that this offseason so he can be even better going forward.

He hit .243 with nine doubles and 55 RBIs to go along with those eleven home runs in 58 Dominican Summer League games last year, and did so while making the adjustment to life as a professional ball player.

"It went well," Gomez said of his debut season through the help of a translator.  "I felt good.  I gave it my best and everything went well.

"I learned a lot of stuff; definitely always be on time.  It was my first year so I just had to learn how to be on time and be a [professional]."

Everyone knew he had big power when he first signed but Gomez says he quickly learned that playing at the professional level that everyone is talented, and that hard work and attention to detail is still very much needed.  He learned the most important lesson a professional can learn -- talent alone is not enough!

"I was always early at the cage to work on the things I had to work on and [refine] my approach," he said.  "I learned to fight every pitch and how to be engaged on every pitch."

He also quickly learned that even though he was noted for his slugging ways that he had to work even harder to be a more complete player.  That meant hitting the gym hard and make his conditioning a top priority.  With the way he reported to camp this spring it's quite evident that he not only got the message loud and clear but that he has the inner fire to work just as hard as anyone.

"I've lost like 25 or 26 pounds," the much more slimmed down and barely recognizable Gomez exclaimed.  "It's been helping me a lot.  I can move better now but I still have the same strength."

The weight loss and improved conditioning has been a pretty big factor already defensively in the field.  He says his range has never been better and it has allowed him to make plays he couldn't make before.

"I have improved on many things.  In fact, I want to say thank you to the coaches who have been working with me everyday."

Gomez learned a lot on his debut season last year, specifically that he needed to be a better shape to optimize his defensive game, but he also learned that he still has a lot to improve with his offensive approach.  A big-time power hitter, especially to the pull side, Gomez said he doesn't want that to define his game either.  He wants to be a more complete hitter too and he's been working hard on that aspect of his game as well.

"I've been working on hitting the ball to the opposite field because sometimes I have a tendency to pull the ball so now I'm working on letting the ball travel and hitting the ball to the opposite field," he admitted.

The hard work appears to be paying off too.  He hit a lot of opposite field doubles in his first ever States-side Spring Training camp this past month and combining that with his improved conditioning and defensive play it has never been more evident that he is just scratching the surface of his entire game.  

In fact, as good as he was last year he is extremely confident that he can be a whole lot better now and going forward.

"I can be better, that's for sure," he concluded.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories