Former DBP and Vanderbilt infielder gets call in sixth round
By Jim Hague
As the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft entered its second day last Wednesday, Anthony Gomez wasn’t paying a lot of attention.
Nutley native Gomez was with his teammates at Vanderbilt University and was in the locker room, after the Commodores had been eliminated from the NCAA Tournament by North Carolina State last Sunday.
“One of the guys was watching the draft tracker online,” Gomez said. “I wasn’t really paying attention. I was hoping to hear my name called, but my friend said, `Hey, Gomez just got taken by the Marlins.’ That’s how I found out.”
It was true. The 6-foot, 185-pound shortstop, who played his high school baseball for perennial state power Don Bosco Prep, was taken by the Miami Marlins in the sixth round of the draft, becoming the first Nutley product to get selected in the MLB Draft since pitcher Rob Gariano was taken by the San Diego Padres in the 35th round of the 2010 Draft out of Fairfield University.
Before Gariano, Larry Mohs was taken by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 11th round in 1993.
Gomez was the third highest player from New Jersey taken in the 2012 MLB Draft.
Gomez had a good idea that he would be picked in the draft.
“The day of the draft, we had a team meeting, so I was busy with that,” Gomez said. “I had received a few phone calls earlier that I might get drafted. A scout from the Marlins called me and asked if I would be ready to sign if they took me. I had a few other teammates who were also told they might get drafted, so we were all having a little fun with it.”
Gomez said that receiving the news from the Marlins was the best moment of his life.
“It’s completely a dream come true,” Gomez said. “It’s what every kid wants to do. To see it now become a reality is truly amazing.”
Gomez, who still has another year of eligibility remaining at Vanderbilt if he chooses to return to school, led the Commodores in a host of offensive statistics this season, batting .357 with 57 RBI and 90 hits, earning All-Southeast Conference honors for the second straight year. He stands fourth on the Vanderbilt all-time hit list with 267 and if he chooses to return for his senior year, he could very well break the school’s alltime hit record. His .354 career batting average ranks fifth alltime at Vanderbilt.
But it sounds as if Gomez is leaning towards signing a contract with the Marlins. He returned to Nutley on Thursday, a day after the draft, and was greeted by a host of family and friends.
“Everyone has been so excited,” Gomez said. “I’ve seen a few friends and they’re all very happy for me. They know it’s been my lifelong dream.”
Gomez plans on meeting with the Marlins’ organization this week to discuss a contract.
“I’m heading to Jupiter (Florida) this week to begin negotiations,” Gomez said. “We’ll see, but I’ll probably sign, maybe Wednesday. It’s good to know that I was picked that high. I wasn’t sure where I was going to fall. I spoke with the Marlins before the draft, so I knew that they were interested in me, but I had no idea where I would end up. But I’m really excited. It feels pretty good.”
Gomez started to gain a lot of attention last year, when Vanderbilt sent 12 players to the MLB Draft.
“We had a lot of scouts coming to the games last year and we had a lot of guys get drafted,” Gomez said. “It helped that we had a team with a lot of talent. I got noticed and started to realize I had a chance. I had a lot of scouts who wanted to know if I would sign if I got drafted. So I guess I knew I would get picked. It was just a matter of what round.”
Gomez was happy to share the day with five of his Vanderbilt teammates, who also were taken during this year’s draft.
“It was a great time for all of us,” Gomez said. “I did get to hear my buddies’ names called. Six from the same school is pretty impressive.”
Gomez was happy it was the Marlins, because he said that he has family in Miami.
“They’re excited as well,” said Gomez, who was born in Belleville at Clara Maass Hospital and was raised on the Nutley/Clifton border.
Gomez said that it was helpful to be part of two great baseball programs, first at Don Bosco Prep and later Vanderbilt. “It was a huge help to me,” Gomez said. “You see all the big-time players going through the process from freshman to senior year.” One of Gomez’s high school teammates, Steve Proscia, was drafted in the fourth round by the Seattle Mariners last year and is playing minor league baseball in their organization.
“Between Bosco and Vanderbilt, there have been others who know what the minor league process is all about,” Gomez said. “It can def nitely be a benefit to me.”
Gomez was amazed to learn he was one of only a handful of Nutley products to be drafted.
“I didn’t know that,” Gomez said. “It’s a great feeling to have that distinction. It feels good to come back to Nutley and have everyone all excited and happy for me. I’m glad I can help to bring happiness to everyone.”
And help to put Nutley on the national baseball map once again.