Dodgers: Tony Gonsolin and His Journey to the Spotlight
A career in sports is built on an early set foundation of hard work. Young athletes with promise for the future are thrust into a system of tunnel vision focus offering very little flexibility to enjoy the ride to stardom. For quickly rising Dodger prospect Tony Gonsolin, baseball has always been a well-calculated combination of enjoying the ride, putting his teammates first and of course, hard work.
Gonsolin was born and raised in Northern California. From an early age, he had been a jack of all trades, playing baseball, basketball, soccer and football. Soccer came and passed quickly, he gave football a shot for a minute but knew it was not for him and basketball, like the others, was not the right fit. Like his older brother, baseball was his calling.
“Baseball always just stuck around,” Gonsolin said. “I was always influenced by my brother. He had played baseball only and I wanted to be just like big brother. By the time I got to high school, I was ready to be done with everything but baseball.”
Tony narrowed his scope. High school became the story of following dreams on the diamond. From his freshman year through his junior season, Gonsolin played with fun serving as his motivation. He knew that if he was not having a good time he would not play well but more importantly, it would not be worth it. So, the high school shortstop took the field day in and day out prepared to put his best foot forward while having fun at all times.
By his senior year of high school, baseball took a more serious turn. Tony had always wanted to make a living playing baseball but his talents started to make those dreams a reality. First came the phone calls. MLB affiliated scouts from the A’s and the Royals contacted the young infielder but in Tony’s words, “nothing ever came of those.”
His break came when his high school coach made a connection with MLB scout, Gary Wilson, who ran a scout ball league in the Sacramento area. Tony landed a tryout. The young two-way player tried out as a shortstop and a pitcher but the team did not take him for either one, he was instead moved to the outfield.
The scout ball season began, Gonsolin, an outfielder at the time was on the roster and the coaches on the team had a predicament. They were always short an inning.
“They would always come up to me and ask ‘hey, do you mind throwing an inning?'” Gonsolin recollected. “I would always say of course because that’s what I was there for. I just want to play. That’s where things really turned for me.”
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In the fall of 2011, Tony got a call from St. Mary’s College. It wasn’t pro-ball yet but for Gonsolin every step along the way is one worth taking and trusting his process has never been a bother.
“Always having fun along the way just alleviated the pressure. At the end of the day, we are all just playing a game. And that easy going mentality got me through the game.”
St. Mary’s rounded Gonsolin out. He entered college as an under-developed and raw 18-year-old and left a much more matured player. The Dodgers found that maturity and drafted Gonsolin as a two-way player in the ninth round of the 2016 draft.
“The eighth round was when I got a phone call. The Dodgers area scout, Tom Kunis asked how I felt about a certain signing bonus and I immediately told him I’m in,” Gonsolin said. “But when that eighth round pick came and went and I wasn’t drafted I was bummed but not too bummed.”
The ninth round came and Gonsolins dreams came true.
“I was in the car with a buddy and I was watching a live draft tracker,” Tony said. “The Dodgers pick came up and it said Anthony Gonsolin and I immediately showed him and we freaked out together in the car.” He added later that they made sure they were safe first.
So Tony was now a professional. He entered the league as a reliever throwing in the low to mid-90s and ready for whatever it was the team needed whenever the team needed him to do it.
In 2017, his first full professional season, his velocity jumped from the low-90s to triple-digits and that offseason he was moved to the rotation. This was where his career would change.
Gonsolin, a starting pitcher now, worked tirelessly through 2018 and ended the season tied with Clayton Kershaw for the most strikeouts in the organization from rookie ball through the major leagues. On the year, Tony owned a 2.60 ERA in 128 innings with 155 strikeouts.
He was named the Dodgers minor league pitcher of the year, warranting his first trip to Dodger Stadium in his life.
“I knew this was what I wanted to work for. Stepping on that field to accept the award just confirmed my dreams and motivated me even more.”
But through all of this, Tony Gonsolin has served as a living example of how to lead a career in baseball. Sure, it is all about effort but in his words, “having fun and making sure it is fun for you first is the most important thing.”
Gonsolin’s drive to enjoy but to work hard has propelled him to award-winning numbers. His easy-going attitude has warranted him opportunities he said he will always be thankful for. Tony Gonsolin, the pitcher who just wants to have fun, is also very much here to play. The Dodgers will get in Tony everything they could have imagined but at the very root, they get a flexible player who wants everyone around him to succeed. In Tony Gonsolin, the Dodgers get the whole package.