The Gonsalves family had plenty to celebrate this weekend.
On Saturday, one member of the family played for Carlsbad (California) Elite in the Girls' U17 National Youth Soccer Semifinals. Although Carlsbad was eliminated, that enabled the family to travel from Maryland to Ohio to attend another important athletic event Sunday.
Stephen Gonsalves, the Twins' 16th-ranked prospect, made his Class A debut. Pitching in front of his mother and younger sister Renee, he twirled six shutout frames, scattering three hits and a walk while striking out six in Cedar Rapids' 4-1 win at Dayton.
"I was excited. I was lucky [to have my family here]," Gonsalves said. "The first three innings, I was able to go with my fastball and change to get through the order. Once they started hitting me around a little bit, I showed them I have a curve too, but my fastball command was a big help."
The 20-year-old lefty was drafted out of San Diego's Cathedral Catholic High School in the fourth round last year and put together a 2-0 record and 2.79 ERA through six starts this season in the Rookie-level Appalachian League. He joined the team Friday as the Kernels sent Kohl Stewart, the No. 31 prospect in baseball, to the seven-day disabled list with a right shoulder impingement.
He admitted to feeling more butterflies in the stomach than usual prior to Sunday's start.
"Walking into a ballpark that holds 8,000 and sells out almost every game, and these guys are all big-time prospects and 23 or 24, and I just turned 20 -- obviously I was a little nervous," he said. "But once I got out there, I was able to zone in and focus on the catcher (Alex Smith).
"I was lucky to get some experience playing in big parks playing on travel teams and Team USA in Korea. That was good training against big crowds."
Gonsalves worked a 1-2-3 first inning before giving up a line-drive single to Tanner Rahier to open the second.
"I left one up to Tanner and then I focused back down," he said. "Being up at a higher level, I know these hitters are going to capitalize on mistakes."
The Dragons' Robert Ramirez singled off Gonsalves in the first at-bat of the fifth, and with one out, Gonsalves fell behind in the count to Jamodrick McGruder. Gonsalves worked out of trouble by firing over to first baseman Chad Christensen as Ramirez broke for second. Christensen tossed the ball to shortstop Engelb Vielma, who tagged Ramirez out.
"It was a 2-1 count, a good running count, and he knew I was struggling a bit and wanted to take an easy base off me," Gonsalves said. "I knew he was going, and he noticed I didn't look up at him. That's the best time to pick over."
After walking Ronald Bueno with two outs in the sixth, Gonsalves finished his outing by whiffing No. 2 Reds prospect Phil Ervin.
"That was a great feeling," he said. "I got a little hyped up, but you can't get too emotional out here. You have to keep going and be ready to pitch next time."
After Brandon Bixler allowed a run on two hits and a walk over two innings of relief for Cedar Rapids, Dallas Gallant earned his third Midwest League save by punching out two in a perfect ninth.
J.D. Williams homered, doubled and plated two runs for the Kernels.
Joe Hudson doubled and scored the Dragons' lone run.