The St. Louis Cardinals have one of the best farm systems in all of baseball, and Marco Gonzales is one of the main reasons why. Just one year after being drafted, he has already ascended all the way up to third on Derrick Goold’s Top 7 prospects list.
The former Gonzaga Bulldog is a left-handed starting pitcher who saw limited work in the minors after the draft–hoping to preserve his arm as much as possible. However, he ended the season at High-A Palm Beach–which is impressive considering it was just a few months after the draft. In 16.2 innings pitched for Palm Beach, he had a 1.62 ERA with 13 strikeouts, and opponents hit just .179 against him.
I predict that he will move up the farm system ladder quite rapidly next season–mimicking the rise Michael Wacha had last season. Does this mean he will have his major league debut in 2014? Considering he will be on an innings limit once again, most likely not. However, you never know when it comes to pitchers–as we saw this past season when injuries happened and over 10 rookie pitchers made their debuts for the Cardinals.
He main pitch is a fastball that ranges from 89-92 MPH. Like most lefties, he has a somewhat deceptive delivery and all four of his pitches have effective late movement.. Like Wacha, his go-to combination has been fastball-changeup with both pitches released from an almost identical arm slot. His breaking pitches need some polishing, but they have the makings of being effective pitches for him as well. Thus, he projects to be a three or four pitch pitcher with pinpoint control from the left-side. What’s not to like about that?
However, for as good as Gonzales is as a pitcher, this is not why I like him as much as I do. Gonzales may be one of the best athletes in the entire organization. When he wasn’t pitching at Gonzaga, he played first base–where he was an effective hitter and above-average defender. In 2 years for the Bulldogs, he hit .310 with 20 doubles, two home runs, and 43 RBI. His fielding percentage was .984, and he showed range that will translate well over to his defense from the mound. Because of what I just documented above, I could realistically see him as a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger candidate year in and year out at the big league level.
If you live in Palm Beach, Springfield, or Memphis, make sure to keep an eye on Gonzales next season because I do not think he will be at any of those stops for very long. He has a very bright future, and I am looking forward to seeing him pitch in Busch Stadium someday soon.
Want a closer look at his minor league numbers and be able to keep up with him next season? Well, my buddy, John Nagel, of CardinalsFarm took the time to make player pages for the majority of Cardinal minor leaguers. Here is the link to Gonzales’ page as well as a link to the index of all the players’ pages.
Until next time…