When the Philadelphia Phillies' Severino Gonzalez and Carlos Ruiz take to the diamond on Tuesday night, they'll form MLB's first-ever Panamanian battery, according to a report from Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia.
Gonzalez, 22, will make his major league debut, starting against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Phillies signed the righthander in 2011 for $14,000 out of Santiago, Panama. He gained notoriety in Single A Clearwater during the 2013 season as a replacement reliever, striking out 82 batters in 75 2/3 innings and posting a 2.02 ERA.
His assignment there was only supposed to be temporary before he was returned to Phillies extended spring training, but his play caught the eye of his coaches and earned him an eventual promotion all the way to the big leagues.
“He told me in spring training if he ever got up here he’d like to throw to me,” Ruiz said, according to the report. “It’s special.” The Phillies signed Ruiz out of Chiriqui, Panama in 1998 for $8,000.
Ruiz and Gonzalez's relationship extends beyond sharing a birthplace. The catcher mentored Gonzalez during the 2013 season in extended spring training before the team called Gonzalez up to Clearwater. Gonzalez referred to Ruiz as "kind of like a father" to him.
In 27 starts with Double A Reading last season, Gonzalez went 9-13 with a 4.60 ERA. Ruiz, 36, is in the middle of his 10th season with the Phillies, batting .260 with one RBI.
- Will Green