Nats prospect wins GCL batting title

Nats prospect wins GCL batting title

WASHINGTON -- Nationals infield prospect Esmailyn Gonzalez clinched the Gulf Coast League batting title on Wednesday. Gonzalez, 18, went 2-for-2 with a double and two RBIs against the GCL Marlins to complete his second domestic season with a .350 batting average.

In addition to winning the batting title, Gonzalez finished the regular season with two home runs, 33 RBIs, nine stolen bases and an on-base percentage of .436 in 50 games.

"Obviously, we are very pleased with his performance," general manager Jim Bowden said. "He was able to be healthy this year. He came in shape and worked really hard. He has come a long way in a short period of time."

For now, the team feels Gonzalez can skip Class A Vermont and go to Class A Hagerstown to start the 2009 season.

Gonzalez signed with the Nationals as a non-drafted free agent on July 2, 2006.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.