Marco Gonzales recently joined Redbird Rants in an exclusive interview. The left-handed pitcher was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals with the 19th pick of the first round.
Feb 24, 2014; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Marco Gonzales (74) poses during photo day at Roger Dean Stadium. Image Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Solzman: Thanks for joining Redbird Rants today. How are things treating you down in Florida?
Marco Gonzales: Thanks for having me! Florida has been great so far, I’m finally starting to adjust to the humidity and the surrounding area. It’s been pretty busy, but it’s been worth every second.
Daniel Solzman: When did you find out that the Cardinals were interested in selecting you in the first round?
Marco Gonzales: I actually wasn’t expecting the Cardinals to draft me in the first, and so that day was the first time they had shown serious interest, and it was definitely a great surprise. I had little contact with them leading up to that day, and so I really wasn’t sure if they were interested.
Daniel Solzman: Can you describe what it felt like when you walked in to Busch Stadium for the first time after agreeing with the Cardinals?
Marco Gonzales: That whole day was sort of a blur, and I’m not really sure if I was walking or floating around Busch Stadium. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming, and it felt like I was coming home. Realizing that the field you are walking on is everything you’ve dreamt of is a very awakening feeling and I’ll never forget that day.
Daniel Solzman: What’s the reaction been like on Twitter and social media since the Cardinals drafted you?
Marco Gonzales: The Cardinals social media world has been a blast to be a part of. Countless fans have reached out to me just to simply say ‘Welcome to the Cardinal Family.’ It’s definitely an amazing thing to be able to connect to fans and other players and be linked in to this great organization.
Daniel Solzman: Some of the mock drafts had you going to the Cardinals but with the second of the two first round picks. Did you pay any attention to the mock drafts or did you try and do something else to take your mind off the draft?
Marco Gonzales: I definitely tried not to pay much attention to mock drafts or any blogs on the internet. My biggest focus was to give everything I could to my University in our spring season. Guys who start to play for ‘getting drafted’ play for the wrong reasons and I knew I couldn’t sacrifice my focus during the college season. My teammates played a huge role in keeping me humble and making Gonzaga Baseball my priority. I guess in the back of my mind, I trusted that if I played for my teammates and stayed humble, I would be happy with everything that would follow with the draft.
Daniel Solzman: You were assigned to the GCL Cardinals before being promoted to the Palm Beach Cardinals. How has manager Johnny Rodriguez and pitching coach Ace Adams helped in the transition to the minor leagues?
Marco Gonzales: They’ve been a huge help in transitioning, especially coming from college and the GCL. The biggest thing they’ve helped with is getting me to slow things down. This summer is about getting professional innings under my belt and getting my feet wet in this system, not necessarily how well I throw or the numbers I put up. It’s been a long year, so slowing down my routine and making sure I’m 100% healthy is what is important right now.
Daniel Solzman: One of the things the Cardinals are known for is the Cardinal Way. Seeing how the Cardinals have developed pitchers over the last few seasons, are you looking forward to working with the veterans during Spring Training next year?
Marco Gonzales: Absolutely. I’m just excited to watch and learn from the older guys and soak up everything I can. I’ve been grateful of the older guys here in Palm Beach, but learning from Major Leaguers is a different level.
Daniel Solzman: The Hall of Famers always stop by in Jupiter during Spring Training. Is there one that you are really looking forward to meeting?
Marco Gonzales: I’m not sure which guys make a stop by Spring Training, but Ozzie Smith has been one of my all-time favorite players. It would be a huge honor to meet him and talk a little baseball.
Daniel Solzman: You got to be in New York City during the All-Star festivities. How did that come about?
Marco Gonzales: Well it actually came about through my college season. Through the voters in the College Baseball Hall of Fame, I won the John Olerud “2-Way Player” of the year award this past spring. Through the Hall of Fame, they put together a trip to New York to showcase myself, along with the other award winners; Catcher of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, Shortstop of the Year, and Player of the Year. It was an unforgettable trip and I was very grateful to be a part of it!
Daniel Solzman: In what ways did Gonzaga coach Mark Machtolf get you ready for the next level of your career?
Marco Gonzales: Coach Machtolf is one of the greatest coaches I’ve ever had, and even though I didn’t turn out to be a professional hitter, he taught me how to handle myself with humility and gratitude in the game of baseball, and also in life. Playing for Coach Mac was one of the best and one of the toughest things I’ve done. He ran a tight ship, but had the upmost respect for his players and Gonzaga University.
DS: You got to represent the country while playing for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team in the summer of 2012. What was that experience like?
Marco Gonzales: Playing for Team USA was an experience I’ll never forget. The biggest thing I took away from my time with the team was the relationships I built with my teammates and coaches. It’s amazing how united a group of college kids from different parts of the country can become while wearing ‘USA’ across their chests. The best thing was that there was no ego or cockiness brought out, and we all realized that representing our country was something that was bigger than all of us. I’ll always remember that summer as one of the best baseball experiences of my life, with some of the greatest friends I’ll ever have.
Daniel Solzman: In addition to all the awards that you picked up playing college baseball, you were a 4-time Colorado 5A state championship winner. How did that feel?
Marco Gonzales: I was definitely blessed to have played in such a great high school program at Rocky Mountain High School. The only thing I can say about those four years is we had some great players, but greater team chemistry and coaching. We always seemed to rally at the right times and come together to win some huge ball games. Overall just a great experience!
Daniel Solzman: Who was your favorite player growing up?
Marco Gonzales: My favorite player was Chipper Jones, I even chose jersey #10 in every sport I played up until college!
Daniel Solzman: How do you spend the typical day during the season?
Marco Gonzales: A typical day during the season is pretty laid back until it’s time to go to the field. We usually relax, go to the mall, or hang by the pool until 1 or 2 and then grab some food on the way to the yard. Once we get there, pitchers stretch, run, and throw before we have to shag batting practice for the hitters. After BP, we come back into the clubhouse to eat and possibly shower before getting dressed for the game. After the game, guys will usually meet up for a bite to eat before heading home for a good night’s sleep! Then we wake up and do it all again!
Daniel Solzman: Is there anything fun that you are looking forward to doing during the offseason?
Marco Gonzales: I’m really looking forward to a vacation with my family that we have been planning for the past couple of weeks. Over New Year’s we’re going somewhere tropical for about a week to relax and have some fun in the sun; definitely a much needed break from our busy schedules.
Daniel Solzman: Thanks again for joining us and best of luck as your make your way up through the organization. Any words for the best fans in baseball?
Marco Gonzales: Thanks for having me! To all the fans: Thank you for your continued support, you have made me feel more than welcome into this Cardinal Family!