St. Louis Cardinals Sign 2 Free Agents, 1 with Big Potential

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Juan Gonzalez

Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals’ signing of righhanded reliever Juan Gonzalez is the one I’m interested in. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Derrick Goold mentioned it only briefly in his post-GM Meetings report yesterday, and countered Gonzalez’ strong numbers in 2015 by adding that the 6-2, 200-lb. Venezuelan righty had toiled in the minors for nine years.

Goold is correct, of course. Gonzalez is indeed a nine-year minor leaguer, but the righthander is still just 25 and has been young for his league almost every year he’s taken the mound.

Last year, he appeared to turn a corner. After being selected for the 2015 Futures Game, Gonzalez told NewsOK.com that his slider was the key:

"“My slider, last year was very slow,” Gonzalez said. “When I threw my slider, I threw slow. When I throw a slider, I need to throw it the same as a fastball. That’s what I worked on this year.”"

In the World Team’s 10-1 thrashing at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Gonzalez faced three batters the 7th and 8th innings, striking out two and getting the other batter to ground out. Gonzalez finished 2015 with a 1.62 ERA, 51 strikeouts and 16 walks in 50 innings of relief between double- and triple-A. He ended up being the closer at triple-A Oklahoma City, where he nailed down 12 saves.

Next: The Cardinals Will Be Big Spenders This Year

St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny needs another reliever he can trust. Gonzalez looks like he has a good chance to be that guy. And maybe then some.

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