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Future Redbirds Top 25 Prospects for 2015: #3 - Marco Gonzales

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The, uh, rich man's version of #6 prospect Tim Cooney, with similar command, a better breaking ball, and a plus changeup.

Marco Gonzales, demonstrating solid mechanics.
Marco Gonzales, demonstrating solid mechanics.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Acquired: 2013 Draft, (Round 1, #19), Gonzaga

Birthday: 2/16/1992

Age: 24

Minor League Stops in 2014: Palm Beach (A+), Springfield (AA), Memphis (AAA), St. Louis (MLB)

2014 Totals:

IP

ERA

FIP

K%

BB%

GB%

OFB%

HR/OFB%

122 2.51 3.06 23.5 5.4 43 26.5 12.5


F-R Grades:

(You can find the 20/80 grading primer here)

Fastball

Changeup

Curveball

Command

Pitchability

50 70 50/60 55/60 55

Kenny Powers had his fastball, Marco Gonzales has his changeup.

If one pitch can get you to the big leagues, those would be the respective choices for each individual.

Gonzales is the prototypical Top 50 draft choice for the Cardinals in the Mozeliak era: A high floor college player with limited ceiling who is also mature and will speed quickly to the higher end of the minor leagues, awaiting a chance to make a big league impression within two years of being drafted. Luke Weaver, Lance Lynn, Kolten Wong -- Gonzales is just another on that trendline.

That's not to say there was no ceiling here when the Cardinals took him: Gonzales played both ways at Gonzaga and the organization felt that they might be able to juice a few more MPH out of his fastball once he began preparing solely as a pitcher in the pros. Alas, that hasn't happened: He sits in the 90-91 range, touching 93 with good life down in the zone, probably should get a few more ground balls than he does, but his ceiling as the next Johan Santana is all but sealed off at this point.

The struggle I have with Marco is not the fastball or the changeup, or even the fringy breaking stuff (although the curveball has some potential as a plus pitch that flashed plus some last year): It's the fact that none of them are able to fool big league hitters into swinging and missing once they've seen them a few times. Gonzales isn't all the deceptive, lacks a real put-away pitch, and tends to give up a lot of foul balls -- leading him to nibble more and more on the fringes of the strike zone, which sent his walk rate spiraling up when he got to the big leagues last year. Gonzales is much like his taller, older doppelganger Cooney in this way, although the plus changeup allows him something to lean on when he doesn't have his best stuff, making him a bit more consistent from start to start than Cooney has been in the high minors thus far.

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2015 Outlook:

Gonzales "competed" for a spot in the rotation and looked good this spring but with Carlos Martinez getting his chance and Kevin Siegrist looking solid this spring, Gonzales is really in the best spot for him career wise: working out of the rotation at Memphis on a regular basis. I'd guess he'll log 150+ innings if he stays down there all season (crosses fingers) with a chance to move into the back end of the rotation in 2016 when John Lackey and Jaime Garcia are no longer on the payroll.

Overall Grade: B