Gonzaga University baseball junior Marco Gonzales became the highest drafted Bulldog in school history in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, as he was the first-round selection of the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday.
As the 19th overall pick, the Fort Collins, Colo., native tops Clayton Mortensen who was the 36th overall selection by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2007. Mortensen was a compensation pick between the first and second rounds.
“I am honored and very thankful,” Gonzales said moments after the seeing his name called. “It is hard to put into words. It is a culmination of a lot of work put in, a lot of dedication of my family, friends, teammates and coaches believing in me. I just can’t say thank you enough to all those who put time and effort to get me on the field and to get me to practice and road trips, the miles put in means the world to me.”
Gonzales is coming off a spectacular year for the Zags that earned him Co-West Coast Conference Player of the Year accolades. As one of the finest two-way players in the nation, the southpaw was masterful on the mound with a 7-3 record and a 2.80 ERA with two shutouts. At the dish, the left-handed hitter led the Zags with a .311 batting average, two homeruns and 26 RBI in 46 starts.
“I am really excited for him,” head coach Mark Machtolf stated. “We are thrilled he will have the chance to make his mark on professional baseball. It is a little emotional watching a kid fulfill his dreams. He is going to a great organization and I am excited to see what he does.”
In his three seasons in a Zags uniform, Gonzales is 26-7 with a 2.34 ERA, nine complete games, four shutouts and 278 strikeouts. He is a career .311 hitter with four homeruns and 69 RBI. Gonzales is in the top five of the Bulldogs record book in wins, strikeouts and ERA.
“Many experts believe he is ready for the big leagues now,” Machtolf said. “This is a big step forward for our program. To have a guy that commits to Gonzaga and fulfill his dreams is huge for us. I am very happy and proud of all his accomplishments.”
Gonzales was drafted out of high school by his hometown Colorado Rockies in the 29th-round but opted to attend Gonzaga instead.
“Coming here I really underestimated the sense of family that I would achieve,” Gonzales reflected. “From the coaching staff, to my teammates, to my peers in the classroom, to all the friends I have made. I have underestimated the value of that coming in. I came in a lone Colorado boy, the only one on the team and I am leaving with a big Spokane family. I am just really excited about how my time at Gonzaga ended up.”
The MLB Draft will resume Friday at 10 a.m. with rounds three through 10 on MLB.com.