KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Reliever Gonzalo Sanudo hopes a dominant 2013 season can land him a big-league job.
In 2013, the 22-year-old Mexican native was dominant at three different levels while playing for the Greeneville (Rookie league), Tri-City (Low Class A) and a short stint in Corpus Christi (Double A).
As a relief pitcher in the Houston Astros minor-league organization, he always enters a game near the end, but in talking about a professional career his best days have just started.
“My big dream is playing in MLB,” he says. “Play there to make history, one of the few Mexican players to take part in major leagues.”
Sanudo posted a 1.16 ERA with an impressive 51-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 38 2/3 innings last season.
Currently working out with the big club this spring training, Sanudo’s main goal in 2014 is try to repeat his stellar 2013 season.
“I need to improve my consistency in velocity. Throw more balls between 93-92 [mph] other than 88-89. This is a important factor,” he said. “Another thing to get better [at] are breaking balls. I need to improve in more difficult pitches, such as curveball and slider.”
Still, Sanudo has showed an excellent control. The right-hander walked just four batters – two intentional – with his 2013 teams, numbers, that if prorated, would make his big-league dream come closer.
“I believe I am in the right [situation]. I’m improving my game, getting better, doing as much as I can to take a step further,” he says.
Sanudo will have plenty of role models to look up to should he make the Astros big club in the next couple of years.
Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel (2011), the Rangers’ Neftalí Feliz (2010) and Andrew Bailey from Oakland Athletics (2009) all won MLB Rookie of the Year honours in their first season.
“I’ve been relieving since 2010 and I am really comfortable in closing games. I like the factor of the people cheering, the stress, I can handle that,” he says.
Acquired from Minnesota in exchange for catching prospect Mike Kvasnicka last spring, Sanudo has adapted with his new team.
“We can practise with all players here through all levels,” Sanudo says. “It was a little bit different in the Twins with some players from Double A in one side, and others from Class A on the other side. Here I can practise with [everyone] like a family, and everybody treats you really well.”