Hometown Hurlers Make San Juan Locals Proud

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Updated: March 9, 2017

Chances are with the game on the line this season, the San Juan bullpen will be turning to a 6 foot 5 inch closer who happens to be a hometowner who made it big. The twist is it could be either rookie Jose Gomez, who grew up just a few blocks away from PRTC Stadium, or veteran closer Jorge Nunez, who hails from Bayamon Bay just on the other side of Route 20, the highway that runs along San Juan’s west side.

One throws a sinker and slider and the other is a fastball-curveball guy but both can get up into the 98 mph range consistently. They also conveniently fire from opposite sides, Nunez from the right and Gomez from the left.

Their paths to the big leagues was very different as well.

Jorge Nunez

The rail-thin Nunez, who is only 160 pounds, has 93 saves in his first three years with the organization, which for him conveniently moved from Texas’ Rio Grande Valley after the 2023 season. He did not fare quite so well last year when the game was tied (6-9 after a 10-2 season in 2023) but his save numbers were close; 38 saves in 44 chances in 2023 compared to 36 saves in 42 chances last year. He has 188 strikeouts and 50 walks in 193 career innings.

Reaching the big leagues at 28, Nunez is a late bloomer who spent six years with Ecatepec in the Alianza Beisbol Al Sur del la Frontera where he was a respectable 17-14 with 43 saves and a 3.08 e.r.a. in 216 games. His intelligence and hard work, which has led to respect from his Coqui teammates, played a large role in his development.

Jose Gomez

That is in sharp contrast to the reputation Gomez has developed over his five minor league seasons. The 23-year old, who is a bit sturdier at 215 pounds, has overslept on a few occasions. However, after three mediocre years in the minors, the light seemed to come on in 2023 when he went 16-2 with a 2.35 e.r.a. as a starter in AA ball. He was moved to the bullpen when he joined the Coqui organization and posted a 1.58 e.r.a. with 28 saves, striking out 92 in 68 innings, with Santa Domingo (AAA) before being called up to San Juan last August.

The fact that the team was moving to San Juan a winter ago made Nunez appealing to the team’s previous general manager, who selected him in the contraction draft that offseason. The former #5 pick in the amateur draft was once the better of three players who were sent along with a first round draft pick to New Jersey for Duluth star hurlers Tapper Gonzalez and Rainmaker Thomas.

With recently signed starting pitcher Alfredo Velazquez also hailing from Bayamon Bay, San Juan fans will have extra reasons to root for the home team this season.