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Cape League Grad Debuts with Blue Jays, Becomes MLB's First Brazilian-Born Player

     Yan Gomes, a .312 hitter for the Chatham A’s in 2008, is the latest Cape Cod League graduate to get the call to the big leagues and his debut last week for the Toronto Blue Jays made baseball history.

     The Blue Jays sent struggling first baseman Adam Lind (Wareham, 2003) to Triple-A Las Vegas to make room for Yan Gomes, who becomes Major League Baseball’s first Brazilian-born player.

     Born in Sao Paulo, Gomes was brought to the United States by his parents as a 9-year-old and grew up in Miami, where he attended Southridge High School and Barry University. In his one season at Barry, he hit .406 with 21 home runs and a school-record 92 RBIs while leading the Bucs to their first Sunshine State championship and winning the conference’s Player of the Year award.

     Gomes was the Boston Red Sox’s 38th-round draft choice out of high school in 2006 (1,192nd overall), but he opted to attend the University of Tennessee, where he hit .310, slugged eight homers and drove in 46 runs to win Freshman All-America honors. As a sophomore, he was voted second-team All-SEC, but he transferred to Barry after a coaching change at Tennessee. In his two seasons (2007, 2008) as a Volunteer, Gomes played in 111 games, batted .313, drove in 82 runs and belted 13 homers.

     The 6-foot-2, 220-pound catcher-first baseman played seven games at Cotuit in 2007, collecting three hits in 13 plate appearances. He played in 17 games the following summer at Chatham, where he batted .312 and caught the eyes of Toronto scouts. The Blue Jays made him their 10th-round pick (310th overall) in the 2009 draft.

     Gomes, 24, was batting .359 with five home runs and 22 RBIs at Las Vegas when he got the call to report to Toronto. On Thursday night, May 17, he started at first base for the Blue Jays and went 2-for-3 in his MLB debut against the New York Yankees. The following night, installed at third base, Gomes hit his first big league home run and added a sacrifice fly as the Jays blasted the New York Mets, 14-5.

     After Thursday’s big league debut, Gomes told the Toronto Star, “I’m sure my parents were crying. Crazy emotions – even when I was in the dugout, I was like, ‘What’s happening?’ ”

     Gomes’ father, Decio, told The Miami Herald that his son is planning to be married in October to Jenna Hammaker, daughter of former MLB pitcher Atlee Hammaker.

     At Toronto, Gomes joins former Tennessee teammate J.P. Arencibia, the Jays’ starting catcher, as two of six former Vols currently on MLB rosters. The other four are R.A. Dickey of the Mets and three CCBL grads, Chase Headley (Cotuit, 2004) of the San Diego Padres, Todd Helton (Orleans, 1994) of the Colorado Rockies and Luke Hochevar (Cotuit, 2003) of the Kansas City Royals. 

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