2014 Stats (High-A): 6 GS, 5-2, 1.43 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 37.2 IP, 34 H, 1.9 BB/9, 7.6 K/9
2014 Stats (Double-A): 2 GS, 1-0, 0.75 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 12.0 IP, 8 H, 2.2 BB/9, 9.0 K/9
It took Marco Gonzales only 14 games—61 innings as a professional—to reach Double-A Springfield.
That's pretty impressive.
St. Louis' first-round pick in the 2013 draft, the southpaw has moved quickly through the minor leagues, laying waste to the opposition with a three-pitch mix that includes a low-90s fastball with late bite, a solid curveball and a changeup that Baseball America called the best in the system.
Aside from his natural talent, Gonzales understands how to pitch, as evidenced by his second Double-A start against Midland, a team that led the Texas League in walks and on-base percentage heading into the game.
Gonzales tossed seven innings of two-hit, shutout baseball, walking one and striking out seven. After the game, he explained his approach to MiLB.com's Jake Seiner:
I was really just trying to throw strikes, then mix in the curveball in the third and fourth inning. It was a good mix, throwing first-pitch strikes and attacking the inner half.
Especially in the second and third innings, as I got near the bottom half of the order, I just attacked with fastballs. The second time around, I started flipping more changeups in the first pitch, then coming hard in again, keeping them off-balance with a good mix.
To be sure, a pair of Double-A starts certainly isn't a large enough sample size to deem Gonzales ready for the major leagues. But you can't ignore his performance, which has been outstanding, and you can't help but think about how he could potentially help the Cardinals this season.
While the Cardinals don't have an opening in the major league rotation, Gonzales could figure into the team's bullpen mix. It wouldn't be the first time the Redbirds utilized one of their top pitching prospects in relief, having done so with Adam Wainwright in 2006 and Carlos Martinez the last two years.
That he's a lefty only makes a possible promotion to the big leagues all the more enticing considering the issues Randy Choate has had as the team's primary left-handed reliever.