CHARLOTTE—Indians shortstop prospect Erik Gonzalez ranged up the middle to get a grounder with no outs and a runner on first in the ninth inning of the Triple-A all-star game Wednesday night.
In one motion, Gonzalez caught it and flipped the ball to second, where second baseman Jorge Polanco was waiting. The Twins prospect caught it and fired to first for a double play, a key play in the International League’s 4-2 win.
“I feel better about the defensive play because it was with Jorge Polanco.” Gonzalez said. “It’s very important for me to do it with Jorge.”
For Gonzalez and Polanco, being able to play all nine innings together in Charlotte was a rare opportunity to reunite on the field, as the two are teammates with Leones de Escogido in the Dominican League.
And Polanco says it’s something they practice often in Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo.
“We anticipated the ball,” Polanco said. “He said, ‘I’m going to flip the ball to you.’ So I said, ‘OK.’ We do it, and we’re going to do it again. It’s nice to play with him, we know each other. He’s my boy, man.”
In addition to the nice double play, both players had a nice night at the plate, too. Gonzalez hit a solo homer to left off of Fresno’s Brady Rodgers in the second inning, one of four homers on the night.
“I was looking for a fastball, but he threw me an offspeed,” Gonzalez said. “But it hung, and I swung, and that happens when you go to home plate swinging.”
Polanco didn’t make hard contact, but he was the only player with more than one hit, getting an infield single in the third on what he called “a swinging bunt” and pulling a double to right in the fifth. While he laughed abut the soft contact, Polanco was happy with the results.
“If I play hard, I think I do good,” Polanco said. “That’s the only thing that matters to me. If I play hard, I’ll get base hits and I’ll play good.”
Polanco is ranked No. 97 on the Midseason Top 100 Prospects, while Gonzalez was called up by the Indians to join the club for the second half. With Francisco Lindor holding down shortstop for the Indians, Gonzalez says he’s been working at third base, second base, and in the outfield two days a week in preparation for the move.
“They talked to me about that, and they know me,” Gonzalez said. “They have Francisco Lindor right there, and I understand that. But you’re also looking for the opportunity, and if it’s at third base, shortstop or outfield, I’m going to be there. If they want me to play another position, I’m ready for that.”
Gonzalez says he loves defense and has a lot of fun making plays like the glove flip Wednesday. The fact that he got to do it with Polanco meant that much more to the two of them, and Polanco has enjoyed watching Gonzalez succeed.
“It’s a great thing to see him do well,” Polanco said. “We have competition, but we are friends too. I want him to do his best, and he wants me to do my best, too.”