COLUMBIA, SC - Fireflies starting pitcher Merandy Gonzalez was named South Atlantic League Player of the Month for April, the league announced. The 21-year-old becomes the first Firefly to garner a monthly award.
"He's a great competitor on the mound," Fireflies manager Jose Leger said. "You can see his focus on the mound every time he goes out there. The fact that he attacks hitters and gets ahead is the key for him."
Gonzalez got off to a tremendous start for Columbia with 28.1 consecutive scoreless innings in his first four starts. The righty turned heads as he approached the longest scoreless-inning streak in South Atlantic League history (39.2 innings - Henry Carson, 1984 Savannah Cardinals). Merandy's run of shut-out innings ultimately ended at an impressive 28.2 IP.
"When runners get on base, they don't have a chance of stealing on him," Leger explained. "Every time he goes out there on the mound we have a good chance to win."
During April, Merandy was the only starting pitcher in all of professional baseball (MLB and MiLB) not to allow a run. He lasted a career-long 7.2 innings in two of his first four starts with the Fireflies. The right-hander also recorded 23 strikeouts and had walked just three batters during the first month of the season. Gonzalez won all four of his starts.
"I look at [Merandy] from two years ago when I had him [coaching for the Kingsport Mets] and his work ethic has changed and he has matured so well from back then to now," Fireflies pitching coach Jonathan Hurst said. "He concentrates on the little parts of the game and has performed in a big way."
The Mets signed Gonzalez in 2013 as a non-drafted free agent. Baseball America labeled the right-hander as New York's "breakout prospect" for 2017. Last season, the native of the Dominican Republic posted a 2.87 ERA with the Brooklyn Cyclones in 14 starts. Gonzalez also tossed a no-hitter in a seven-inning game while with the Gulf Coast League Mets in 2015.
About the Columbia Fireflies
The Columbia Fireflies are the South Atlantic League affiliate of the New York Mets. Winners of Ballpark Digest's Best New Branding and Logo Award in 2016, the Fireflies play games across the southeast and mid-Atlantic regions, including against in-state rivals in Charleston and Greenville. The team partnered with the city of Columbia and Hughes Development to construct Spirit Communications Park, a multi-use outdoor sports and entertainment venue at the center of the BullStreet development. The Columbia Fireflies are owned by Hardball Capital, owners of the Fort Wayne TinCaps of the Midwest League and the Chattanooga Lookouts of the Southern League. For more information, visit ColumbiaFireflies.com, or follow the Fireflies on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
About Spirit Communications Park
Spirit Communications Park, the 2016 Ballpark Digest Ballpark of the Year, is a 365-day per year multi-use sports and entertainment venue located in the heart of downtown Columbia, SC. Spirit Communications Park is the home ballpark for the Columbia Fireflies, the South Atlantic League affiliate of the New York Mets. Designed for baseball, concerts, football, soccer and a host of other activities, the venue seats approximately 9,000 for sporting events and up to 15,000 for major outdoor concerts. With 16 luxury suites and a 7,000 square-foot Club Level Lounge, Spirit Communications Park can also host everything from business meetings to wedding receptions, and everything in between. The venue is open 365 days a year and serves as a public park with the wrap-around concourse representing 1/3 of a mile for walkers and joggers. For more information, visit SpiritCommunicationsPark.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.