New Mexico's Luis Gonzalez (Justin Tafoya/NCAA Photos)


GSA Spotlight: UNM’s Luis Gonzalez

Golden Spikes Spotlight

Sometimes the maturation process is a subtle thing. It wasn’t so subtle for Luis Gonzalez, whose pronounced growth in several obvious ways over the last three years at New Mexico has helped turn him into one of college baseball’s best hitters and most valuable players.

For starters, there’s Gonzalez’s growth as a hitter. He could always swing the bat, and he hit a very respectable .299 with a .496 slugging percentage as a freshman. But he didn’t really take off until changing his mental approach — and moving from the 3-hole to the leadoff spot — as a sophomore, when he led the Lobos with a .381 batting average and 21 doubles.

“Kids want to be somebody they’re not sometimes. His freshman year he hit a lot of balls up the chute, trying to max-effort a home run, cut it off, lift it, all that stuff,” New Mexico coach Ray Birmingham said. “I talked him into the mental side of it: ‘Dude, lead the country in doubles, this will all play out for you.’ So that’s his goal: have a high batting average, lead the country in doubles. Being in the leadoff spot helps him with that. Putting him in the 3-hole as a freshman was a mistake. Now he hits like a leadoff hitter, for average, and he still hits home runs. He’s focused on who he should be.”

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