By Dale Goodwin

Marco Gonzales, first-round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals, traveled some this summer. And who could blame him if he still has his right foot on the gas pedal and his left arm out the window, waving hello to the world of big-time baseball.

On June 29, he was in Lubbock, Texas, to accept college baseball’s John Olerud Award as the 2013 two-way player of the year. Gonzales led the Zags in pitching and hitting as he helped Gonzaga capture the West Coast Conference regular-season championship. Then, in mid-July, he was Major League Baseball’s guest at the All-Star baseball game and festivities at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets. He had a chance to mix with Major League greats and former stars of the game.

Read more about Marco Gonzales in our web extra ‘Pitch Perfect: Backyard to big yard’

After St. Louis drafted Marco 19th overall, he was assigned to the Gulf Coast League Cardinals (high A league) where he has been used sparingly, but strategically throughout the summer, as is often the case with high college draft picks who have already played 60 games. Some close to the club have suggested he is on the fast track to the Major Leagues.

“He may be on a similar path as St. Louis’ 2012 first-round draft pick Michael Wacha, a right-handed pitcher who moved up to the big leagues this year,” said Justin Trujillo, Gonzaga baseball sports information director, who has closely followed Gonzales’ baseball career. “Marco has established a relationship with Wacha, and he’s learning what he needs to know from someone who’s been there.”

A Fort Collins, Colo., native, Gonzales turned in a spectacular junior season for the Bulldogs. The left-handed pitcher earned Co-West Coast Conference Player of the Year honors with his 7-3 record and 2.80 ERA. In 106 innings, Gonzales struck out 96 batters while only walking 25. The southpaw had two complete-game shutouts including a stellar effort over No. 2 Arkansas in Surprise, Ariz.

Gonzales also served as a middle-of-the-lineup bat for the Zags’ offense as he led the club with a .311 batting average, two home runs and 26 RBI. The lefty hit .325 in conference play and totaled 11 multiple hit games. From April 16 to May 4, Gonzales carried a hitting streak that spanned 11 games.

Gonzales will train diligently in the off-season, and report to Jupiter, Fla., in early February for St. Louis spring training.

For more on Gonzales, see gozags.com/marco4poy.

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