Pitching suits ex-Bulldog Gonsolin

Kennedy Jorgensen no longer has to worry about her boyfriend having a suitable suit for a special occasion. She helped Tony Gonsolin find a new one last September in time for the 2012 Vacaville High School graduate to be honored by the Los Angeles Dodgers as their Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

Gonsolin figured he would be fine with a suit that was as old as his high school diploma. Jorgensen realized as Gonsolin was getting dressed that his suit was no longer fit to fit him, so a shopping they would go.

“Panic hit,” Jorgensen recalled. “He could barely walk in it. There was no way he was going to sit down in it.”

Photo by Cody Roper/Oklahoma City Dodgers

Gonsolin will need to invest in a few suits if he makes it to the major leagues this season. He turned quite a few heads in spring training in Arizona by pitching nine shutout innings with six strikeouts.  He tossed three perfect innings and struck out three March 11 against the San Francisco Giants.

Most young pitchers would be in awe of major-league hitters. Gonsolin took his start against the Giants in stride, although striking out Evan Longoria to end the first inning was a thrill.

“I noticed it was (Longoria). He’s an All-Star. He’s legit,” Gonsolin said. “That was one of the more exciting moments. That was cool. I didn’t think about it when I was out there. I just made good pitches.”

That Gonsolin is pitching these days might come as a surprise. He was primarily an outfielder in his four years at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga. He started 159 of 162 games in his last three seasons with the Gaels, but only 19 of those starts were on the mound. Gonsolin also made 28 appearances as a reliever.

Scouts must have discounted his 4-8 record and 3.78 ERA as a junior and senior at Saint Mary’s. One statistic they counted in those two seasons was strikeouts. Gonsolin whiffed 83 in 107 innings. His knack for strikeouts has continued in three minor-league seasons with 265 in 229 innings.

His prowess raises the question of whether Gonsolin is ready to pitch in the major leagues as soon as this season. Gonsolin has no idea what the future holds and will expend little time thinking about the unknown.

“It’s completely out of my control,” said Gonsolin, who lost in his first start for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Sunday. “The decision is up to them. I’m just going out there and trying to get better.”

For Jorgensen, who was in Arizona working for the Cincinnati Reds, Gonsolin’s guessing game is nothing new. She was raised in baseball because her father, Randy, played in the minor leagues from 1993 to ’99. Randy never reached the major leagues, playing for eight teams in seven years and going from the West Coast (Bellingham, Wash.) to the East (Wilmington, N.C.)

Once Jorgensen and Gonsolin became an item, she was concerned her father would prefer for her to steer clear of the minor-league road. She got a taste of it in 2017 after buying an airline ticket to visit Gonsolin when he was with the Great Lakes Loons in Midland, Mich., only to have to change her destination. Gonsolin was promoted to Rancho Cucamonga as Jorgensen was packing for Michigan.

“He called me and said he had really good news and really bad news. I had a feeling it was going to happen,” said Jorgensen, who purchased travel insurance just in case her boyfriend would also be packing his bags.

Jorgensen arranged for Gonsolin and her father to meet during spring training in 2017 when they went to an Arizona Coyotes hockey game. When Jorgensen and her father parted ways that night, she got his scouting report.

“‘Tony is a nice guy …’” Jorgensen recalled her father saying as he stepped out of her car, “‘so far.”

So far with the Dodgers, it has been so good for Gonsolin.