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Checking in on Marco Gonzales

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Cardinals left-handed hurler is due for a healthy 2017 season.

Marco Gonzales could be a meaningful arm down the stretch.
Marco Gonzales could be a meaningful arm down the stretch.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Beyond a respectable performance in the 2014 postseason and a spot start last September, there’s not much to talk about in regards to Marco Gonzales, the Cardinals’ first-round pick in the 2013 MLB Draft.

Gonzales was a key piece of the Cardinals’ bullpen during their fourth straight trip to the National League Championship Series, as the then rookie went 2-1 with six punchouts across as many games, including Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Dodgers when Gonzales was able to work out of a jam and hold Los Angeles to their two-run lead that was later soured by Matt Adams’ dramatic, three-run homer off Clayton Kershaw.

The 24-year-old lefty out of Gonzaga University ran into some arm trouble in during the 2015 season, as Gonzales was sidelined for several months by left shoulder irritation that began destructing his year in late April and lingered throughout the summer. The shoulder ailment subsided enough for Gonzales to receive a promotion as part of 2015’s September roster expansion and start a game against the Nationals, but Gonzales’ arm health was not out of the woods.

The injury bug bit Gonzales again in April of this year, when it was discovered that the elbow discomfort that hampered his spring regimen translated to the need for Tommy John surgery that would shelve him for the remainder of the year.

Here’s what Jeff Moore of Baseball Prospectus said of Gonzales:

Gonzales will go as far as his change-up will take him, which should be pretty far. His fastball isn't overpowering, but it also may be his third-best pitch. He's not going to over-power hitters, but being a lefty with a great change-up should be enough to make him a mid-rotation starter.

Despite the promising big-league debuts of fellow prospects Alex Reyes and Luke Weaver, Gonzales still has a prominent place in the organization’s blueprint. With a starting rotation that’s likely to feature Reyes, Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, Mike Leake, and Lance Lynn, Gonzales -- along with Weaver, and Tyler Lyons -- are in line to provide depth in the Cardinals’ starting-pitching department.

In a 2015 campaign that was sandwiched around his shoulder injury, Gonzales made eighteen starts between Memphis, Springfield, and Palm Beach, during which he accumulated 80 2/3 innings and managed a 4.69 earned run average to accompany a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 61:24. Given the typical recovery time for a Tommy John patient (at least twelve months), Gonzales projects to be a candidate for an extended spring camp when it comes time for the 2017 season to commence.