Sports

GOLDEN BOY

The ascension of former Gonzaga baseball star Nate Gold up the ladder in the Texas Rangers organization continues.

Gold is in his first full year with Frisco, the Rangers’ Double-A affiliate in the Texas League. If his numbers with the Rough Riders are any indication, his next stop will be their Triple-A club in Oklahoma City.

With the regular season nearly complete, Gold is hitting .285 with 32 home runs, tops in the league and No. 2 in the minor leagues. The 26-year-old first baseman was also a league all-star both in the midseason and postseason.

“It’s been a good year,” Gold said. “The team is doing well and we’re in the playoff hunt right now. I started off this year with a few bumps, but in the second half I came on and it feels good.”

Having such a great season in Double-A is fulfilling for Gold, especially considering that he struggled in Frisco after earning a late-season promotion there in 2005.

But this year is a different story.

“I feel comfortable,” Gold said. “You still go through high and low points. I’ve been able to stay away from those real low points where you struggle for an extended period of time. That’s the adjustment that I have made that has really helped me out this year.”

He played for the Zags between 2001 and 2002 after transferring from Treasure Valley Community College in Oregon. As a senior, Gold hit .333 and led the NCAA with 33 home runs. That performance earned him West Coast Conference Player of the Year honors and first-team All-American status from Collegiate Baseball magazine.

Gold still has fond memories of his Gonzaga career.

“It was great,” he said. “That was one of the best decisions I made, to play for Coach (Steve) Hertz and (Mark) Machtolf. I learned a lot, not just about baseball but about life, including how to carry yourself –character and things like that.”

After the season, Gold was drafted in the 10th round by the Rangers. His pro career began at rookie-level Pulaski in 2002 (.319, five homers, 30 RBIs) and he was promoted to Single-A Savannah at the end of the year.

Since then, he has played Single-A ball in Clinton, Iowa; Stockton, Calif.; and Bakersfield, Calif., before coming to Frisco.

One of his Frisco teammates is another ex-Bulldog, catcher Kevin Richardson, who played at Gonzaga between 2001 and 2002. Richardson, who signed with Texas as a free agent in 2002, is one of seven Rangers prospects who will participate in the 2006 Arizona Fall League beginning in October.

“He wasn’t just my teammate at Gonzaga, he was also my roommate and my best friend,” Gold said. “It’s great to have a guy like him on the team. He plays hard everyday and is someone I look up to.”

Having accomplished all he can in Double-A, Gold is ready for the next step, a move to Triple-A in 2007.

“It would be nice to get an opportunity at Triple-A, but I’m not going to worry about it,” he said. “I suspect I’ll probably be there next year and will try to do my best.”

If his track record of doing well at each stop in the minors continues next year, Gold’s next stop will be the major leagues, where he will join ex-Bulldogs Jason Bay of Pittsburgh and Mike Redmond with Minnesota.



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