Cardinals camp extras
I had a lot of extra good stuff from my time in Jupiter with the Cardinals. Some of that has to do with how generous with his time Cards farm director Gary LaRocque was and how well-spoken 2013 first-round pick Marco Gonzales was.
First, here’s more from my chat with Gonzalez, the lefty who came in at No. 5 on the St. Louis Top 20:
There’s often a jump for two-way guys when they focus on one skill. Have you noticed anything different? Do you feel any different?
Gonzales: I feel like I have a little more stamina already just with the PFPs we do every day, the conditioning. My body is just not as worn down. I don’t feel like an old man anymore like I did in college. I don’t know if I’ve noticed a velo jump. We haven’t been paying attention to velo yet. As far as overall body care and the way I feel, it’s a lot better already.
How important do you think it is, especially about to hit your first full season, that you were able to dedicate yourself to preparing only for pitching every five days?
Gonzales: That’s going to be the most exciting thing. Preparing the whole offseason to build my legs and core has been huge for me. Not playing every day, especially the combination of hitting and pitching on the same day, it just wears on you. I’m excited to focus and get in a routine and see how it goes.
The college season has started up. Have you been keeping up with Gonzaga (his alma mater)?
Gonzales: I was texting a bunch of my teammates and was on the phone with them before their opening weekend. I was saying it felt like I should be suiting up with those guys. So much has happened in the past year, it’s kind of crazy to look back and see where you’ve been. I’ll always miss playing for those guys, but I’ve got a good thing going on here.
LaRocque had some really great things to say about the culture and the philosophy the organization tries to foster. Rather than set up his comments, I’m just posting because they are pretty self-explanatory.
LaRocque: If you look back at over these last two years, we had 20 players plus move up from the system to the big leagues and contribute, which is really the big thing. From that standpoint, you’re right. The next group has to get the at-bats and the innings to be ready for the next wave of guys. We do think we have some players who can become the same type of contributors in the big leagues. That’s what we have to do; our system is crucial to us. You have to be ready for the next wave. I think it’s very typical of most player development systems, we have to look at it for the next 2-3-4 years. We have to make sure players go from projection to production or performance as they go to the high levels. We have a share of players who went to Quad Cities and then skipped a level, skipped high A and went to Double-A right away . To their credit, they went into Double-A and they played at the level of the league right away. Knowing your own system is crucial.
Trevor Rosenthal, Matt Adams, Oscar Taveras and Kolten Wong [all did that[. It’s important that we’ve had that level of success with those players. They played to the league right off. When we send a player to a league, you find the players you can move or keep accelerating. We’ve found with these players, by July and August, they move ahead of the league. We tell them: April is important, but what matters is where you are in July and August.
Every day our Minor League players walk down the hallway to get to the clubhouse. Lining that hallway is a picture of every guy who is in St. Louis right now who was a Minor Leaguer. They see them, they know it can happen.
For my One More Guy candidate, I’m going to let Jim Callis do the work. He did the Top 20 and just blogged his picks for 21-25 in the system. For whatever it’s worth, I’m kind of a Greg Garcia fan.