More than a decade after winning back-to-back state titles for Hialeah High -- Jon Jay's Christopher Columbus High squad was the only impediment to a third in 2003 -- Gonzalez's connection to his roots remains strong.
Gonzalez has worked with the Hialeah youngsters in recent offseasons; last winter, he provided the players with name-brand gloves and cleats.
"He's always willing to come back and give back any opportunity he has. He doesn't forget where he comes from," said Jon Hernandez, Gonzalez's childhood friend and former teammate, who coached the Thoroughbreds until recently taking a job as ASA College head coach.
"Not too many guys do that. For him to do that, especially being in Major League Baseball and being with the Nationals, not forgetting where he comes from is awesome."
Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.