TCN 2014 Cards Prospect #6: Marco Gonzales

The lefty from Gonzaga was taken 19th overall and is heading into his first full-season as a professional. What should we expect ahead?

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2013 and career stats)

School: Gonzaga University

2013 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
NA LHS 2/16/1992 6-1 195 L L 2013 1st

Selected 2013 stats

GCL 0 0 5.40 1.55 4 2 0 6.2 8 5 0 3 10 1.75 0.276 0.421
PB 0 0 1.62 3.32 4 4 0 16.2 10 3 1 5 13 0.57 0.179 0.214
Total 0 0 2.70   8 6 0 23.1 18 8 1 8 23 0.76 0.212  

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (6): Marco Gonzales, the Cardinals' first round, 19th overall selection from last years draft, was voted on by the community at the sixth spot in their top 40. That is the same place he resides here in the overall ranking.

After pitching in a full collegiate campaign this spring, Gonzales was initially assigned to the Gulf Coast League to have his innings "babied" and to protect his arm health. He pitched in only four games at the Gulf Coast League before being moved up in August to a more talent appropriate level, the Florida State League. There he made a total of only four starts. Gonzales gave up three earned runs on ten hits with five walks and 13 strikeouts in nearly 17 innings of work.

Gonzales was a two-way player for Gonzaga, but excelled most importantly on the mound. He was considered as one of the more polished pitchers in the draft and projected as having the capability to be one of the fastest-moving prospects out of the 2013 draft class.

Gonzales does not have ace upside but more of mid-rotation ceiling thanks to an outstanding command of his average fastball. It is a pitch he can locate extremely well. His change-up is one of the main reasons he was a first-round draft pick. It is a plus pitch, one of the best in the draft, and his curveball is said to be solid at times.

I could see Gonzales starting again in Palm Beach, then quickly getting promoted to Springfield for his first full professional season. He probably will not need much time in the minors. - DTFlush234

Brian Walton (6): The people who are tracking our individual top 40 votes carefully – and trust me, I know you are out there! – have probably noticed that my Rob Kaminsky vote has not yet appeared. More on that very soon, but here is my take on Gonzales in the interim.

At least one prominent draft watcher suggested that former Gonzaga star might reach the majors the quickest of any pitcher taken in the 2013 draft. That is among all 30 organizations, not just St. Louis. No matter how one looks at it, it is certainly praise of the highest order.

Further, the fact that Gonzales is already ranked among the top six prospects in a very good system only confirms this. His standout offering is his change-up. Maybe it is not as sexy as a upper 90's fastball or 12-6 curve, but remember that the change is also the signature pitch of another notable first-rounder, Michael Wacha.

Despite his relatively-finished level, I think there is more to see from Gonzales ahead. Though he debuted in relatively short bursts and initially against the below-his-level hitters of the Gulf Coast League, Gonzales' overall strikeout rate of 8.9 per nine innings was good, but certainly not eye-popping.

At this very early point, when we have just a limited number of professional innings and outings to review, I am putting more emphasis here on ultimate upside. I get that Gonzales should rise to the bigs quickly and will probably have a good career there. I just see others with the potential of a higher peak (as well as more potential to flame out).

Perhaps more than any other pitcher, I am looking forward to seeing Gonzales in spring training after a full winter of rest. He joined the organization after a busy collegiate campaign last spring and it only makes sense that the Cardinals were somewhat cautious with him in 2013. We should see a lot more of what the organization has in Gonzales this coming summer.

In his own words: In October from instructional league camp, Gonzales spoke about the draft, his 2013 season and more. Click here for our interview, exclusively for subscribers to The Cardinal Nation.

Our 2014 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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