When the St. Louis Cardinals took Marco Gonzales with the 19th pick of the 2013 MLB draft, it was assumed by many that they were not only getting the best left-handed pitcher in the draft -- though that wasn't saying much due to the lack of quality southpaws in the class -- but the "safest" pitcher in the class as a collegiate hurler with a high floor who could advance quickly through any team's system.
While he wasn't the first player from the class to make it to the big leagues (Detroit Tigers right-handed reliever Corey Knebel beat him by two weeks), Gonzales still moved through the system quicker than all but the biggest fans of his left arm could have imagined, and he made his big league debut Wednesday against Colorado.
Unfortunately, that start didn't go very well for the former Gonzaga Bulldog, as Gonzales gave up five runs and seven hits over five innings, walking two and striking out three. While he was pitching in the always-tough Coors Field, it was a good example of while he might have a solid future, he may not be a tremendous addition for fantasy owners in 2014.
"He's just not going to miss many bats," an AL Central scout said. "He's certainly a nice pitcher and we had a first-round grade on him last year because of his ability to throw strikes and because of how little development was needed, but if you're expecting a top-of-the-rotation arm, you're going to go home disappointed."
When he's at his best, Gonzales' out pitch is a change that might be a 65 on the 20-80 scouting scale, with excellent deception from arm speed and there is some fade to the offering as well.
That's the only plus pitch at his disposal, however, as his fastball mostly works 88-90 mph and doesn't offer huge movement, and his curveball is only an average pitch in the mid-70s with decent depth but without the big spin to cause swings and misses. He does repeat his delivery very well and throw all three pitches for strikes. Plus, his command is advanced for a 22-year-old who was in college just 13 months ago.
If Gonzales can miss bats at the same level he did at High-A Palm Beach and Double-A Springfield he's got a chance to be a No. 3 -- or possibly even higher -- in a rotation, but the stuff says that he's more of a back-end starter, and back-end starters just don't have much value in fantasy leagues.
Big changes again to the top 10 this week, thanks in large part to two call-ups and a few unfortunate injuries. Once again we have a new No. 1 fantasy prospect, though he's only going to be here for a few hours. Who is that prospect? Let's discuss.