ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque Isotopes player JD Hammer and pitching coach Frank Gonzales have a relationship that goes far beyond that of player and coach. The two have known each other well before Hammer turned pro, as Gonzales was Hammer’s coach in high school.
“Well, it’s special and it is rare,” said Gonzales. “I mean, a former player that played for you at the high school level, you watched him when he was 12, 13, and you got him in high school. its rarer.”
“I basically grew up playing baseball for him, he was my high school coach, he was my first manager at the professional level, and now he is my pitching coach at AAA,” Hammer said. “So, we have been through a lot.”
Both Gonzales and Hammer took their respective baseball careers to the next level as Gonzales is in his 10th year with the Rockies organization and Hammer entered the 2016 draft. Hammer was drafted by Colorado before moving to the Phillies organization. He is now in his second stint with the Rockies, and reunited with Gonzales.
“Its ironic how we took him in the draft and then I am his manager again in Grand Junction and I texted his dad and said, hey listen your son is going to pitch, and we are excited about having him as a Rockie.”
However unlikely their reunion was, the pair continue to grow and lean from each other.
“There really isn’t a book in the library that tells you how to manage a kid that you had in high school, who now plays for you at the AAA level. So, a unique case and you couldn’t ask for a better guy, JD is awesome.”
“Its kind of a full circle thing, its been a weird experience, but its been really cool,” said Hammer.