Marco Gonzales, the pitcher out of Gonzaga who the St. Louis Cardinals made their first round pick last season, showed a glimpse of his potential in today’s first spring training game of the year. More impressive than his scoreless inning of relief was how he handled himself under pressure.
Gonzales, who is known to have one of the better change ups in all of minor league baseball, showed the poise that he has become known for. At just 22 years old, his approach on the mound is already extremely professional, which bodes well for his major league future.
He pitched both the sixth and seventh innings against the Marlins today in a game that the Cardinals lost 5-4. Gonzales received the loss. In that sixth inning, Gonzales put one runner on base, but swiftly got out of trouble. Moving to the seventh, Gonzales’ performance dropped off considerably. He yielded a leadoff walk, which came around to score when Ty Wigginton roped a ball left in the zone deep into right center field for a triple.
Prospect Jake Marisnick followed that up with a triple of his own and all of a sudden, the Marlins had plated two runs. After getting another out, Gonzales walked another batter and with that his day was done. His pitched 1.2 innings, giving up two earned runs on two hits and three walks.
For the most part, when Gonzales missed his spots in the sixth inning, he missed low, which allowed him not to get hurt. However, in the seventh inning, he started missing his spots high and that’s why Wigginton and Marisnick were able to tattoo balls to the wall. All he can do is learn from the adversity that he faced and improve upon the things he did well as he moves forward in spring training.
In the future, Gonzales can act as a great change of pace player to flamethrowers such as Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal. Since he throws such a devastating change up and doesn’t throw particularly hard, he is a welcome change from the hard throwers already in the organization.
Last season in limited minor league action, Gonzales recorded a 1.62 ERA in high-A. Even given the small sample size, he impressed management within the Cardinals organization and spring training is expected to decide whether Gonzales starts this season at high-A or double-A. Should he start the season at double-A, he would be very close to getting a call-up to the big leagues.
Given the Cardinals’ depth at the position, it would likely take a while for him to get called up, but if he dominates his competition, the Cardinals may consider him for the bullpen.