Interview with Cardinals Pitching Prospect Marco Gonzales

John Rogerson

Editor's Note: This interview initially ran during the Hot Stove. With Marco Gonzales making his major-league debut today for the Cardinals, we are re-running it.

Marco Gonzales was the Cardinals top draft pick last season. Less than one year into his pro career, he is already projected to be a "top of the rotation starter for Springfield" next season according to our Future Redbirds managing editor, fourstick. His changeup was considered the best in his draft class, and it appears to be "as good as advertised." However, his long-term success at the higher levels will largely depend on the development of his other pitches, especially his fastball.

Player Profile:

  • Throws: Left
  • Height: 6'0"
  • Weight: 185 pounds
  • Born: February 16, 1992 (Age 22)
  • College: Gonzaga University
  • Acquired: 1st round (19th pick) of 2013 MLB Draft
2013 Statistics (FWIW):

LEVEL

TEAM

G

GS

IP

BABIP

LOB%

K%

BB%

ERA

FIP

Rk

GCL

4

2

6.2

.421

54.6%

31.3%

9.4%

5.40

1.55

A+

PB

4

4

16.2

.214

88.2%

21.3%

8.2%

1.62

3.32

Interview:

VEB: What was your favorite toy as a child (baseball-related objects don’t count)?

MG: My favorite toy was actually a stuffed Barney that I carried around everywhere until I was about five.

VEB: What was your least favorite subject in school and why?

MG: Definitely chemistry. Memorizing all of the elements and their properties was always a struggle.

VEB: What is your nickname history like? Which one is your favorite?

MG: Well, when I was younger and throughout high school, my teammates called me ‘Gonzo’, which is probably my favorite. In college, my teammates were a little more creative and some names included ‘Chico’, ‘El Luchador’, and ‘Taco’.

VEB: What was the most exciting thing you did over the off-season?

MG: My family and I took a trip down to Mexico over New Year’s. We spent a week in Riviera Maya at an all-inclusive resort. We went snorkeling, fishing, zip lining, and even visited the Mayan ruins.

VEB: What’s your song of choice to put you in a good mood? Pre-game music?

MG: My good mood music is anything country. My pre-game music occasionally consists of some rock and roll, but mostly country.

VEB: Gonzaga is well known for its college basketball. How big of a fan were you and did you regularly attend games? PS, do you remember what happened on January 20, 2013 in Indianapolis, IN?

MG: I’ll always be a huge fan of any Gonzaga sport. I probably went to two or three games a year when I was there; it was so hard to get tickets and camp out for seats. But yes, sadly I remember the buzzer beater like it was yesterday. It’s a sore subject.

VEB: What’s your opinion on baseball in Olympics? Would you like it put back into future Olympics?

MG: I would love to see baseball back in the Olympics. However, it’s a tough situation because if you have pro players play, then they would have to miss a couple weeks of the season which could be problematic. I’m sure that the Olympic committee could come up with a better plan.

VEB: Your father played some minor league baseball and has been a coach for many years. Was he a big influence in developing your skills and appreciation of the game?

MG: Everything that I know and love about this game I can tribute to my Dad. His passion and experience has taken me farther than I ever thought possible. He was not only my pitching coach growing up, but he was more importantly my Dad, always supporting me and challenging me to be better.

VEB: How difficult was the decision to attend Gonzaga over going pro when the Rockies drafted you in 2010? What was the driving force in your choice?

MG: It wasn’t too difficult of a decision actually. I was leaning towards going to school and I’m glad I chose Gonzaga!

VEB: We’ve heard all about your changeup and how it is likely the best changeup in the 2013 class. What grip do you use with it?

MG: Yeah it’s definitely a pitch that has become a part of who I am, and I feel like it adds to my personality on the mound. I use the circle changeup grip, basically I make a circle with my thumb and index finger and throw it with my fingertips.

VEB: Which major league pitcher (past or present) do you most closely relate your pitching style to?

MG: I think I’ve most idolized Johan Santana. With his changeup and fastball command, he has been one of the most dominant lefties in the game.

VEB: Is adding velocity to your fastball something you'd like to work on? If so, what plans do you have going forward in achieving this task?

MG: Yeah, it absolutely is. I think my mentality will be to just get stronger and keep my arm healthy and not necessarily obsess over the radar gun.

VEB: In terms of approach, do you think out your pitch sequence ahead of time when facing a batter? Or do you stay in the moment and listen to what the catcher is calling for?

MG: I think as a pitcher, you have to do both. If you have a scouting report on a hitter or have faced that guy in the past, you’re more likely to have a pre-game plan for him. If it’s late in the game or you’re facing a new team, you need to be in the moment and handle what the game throws at you.

VEB: Your background suggests you could be a good hitting pitcher. Is this something you continue to spend time on developing?

MG: Pitching is definitely my priority at this point in my career. I think I’ll have an advantage in bunting and possibly moving a guy over occasionally, but I’m not putting too high of expectations on that now.

We thank Marco for taking the time to thoughtfully answer these questions. We wish him the best in 2014 and beyond.

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