St. Louis Cardinals: Five potential break out players in 2016

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Oct 11, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Marco Gonzales throws a pitch against the San Francisco Giants in the fifth inning in game one of the 2014 NLCS playoff baseball game at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

3. Marco Gonzales

Marco Gonzales was poised to compete for a spot in the Cardinal rotation before arm troubles blew up his 2015 campaign. In the 2014 NLDS against the Dodgers, Gonzales picked up two of the three Cardinal wins in relief. After being eliminated from the playoffs by the Giants in 2014, Gonzales was named the Cardinals Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

The third-ranked prospect in the Cardinals system according to MLB.com, Gonzales shows great polish on the mound. His best assets are his sinking changeup and his command. While Gonzales doesn’t light up the radar gun with his low 90’s fastball, his ability to mix speeds and locate keeps hitters off balance at the plate.

Gonzales can get right-handed hitters out with his changeup, and his sweeping curveball has enough depth to miss left-handed barrels. When he is effectively locating all three pitches, he has the ability to shut an opposing offense down.

We could see Gonzales in a couple of different roles with St. Louis in 2016. He could be a long inning reliever/spot starter, or he could fill in as a mid-to-late innings left-handed option to compliment Kevin Siegrist. Should any issues flare up in the Cardinals starting rotation, Gonzales figures to be the next man up to fill one of those spots.

Next: Tommy Pham

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