Marco Gonzales owns about six hats that adorn decals of Major League Baseball teams. He brought them all to his draft party at No-Li Brewhouse on Thursday.
When his agent, Randy Rowley, called him and said to keep an eye out for the 19th pick, Gonzales sent his younger brother outside to see if he had the right hat.
Luckily, the hat planets aligned and Gonzales' brother was able to present him with a St. Louis hat when the Cardinals selected him with the 19th overall pick of the 2013 MLB first-year player draft.
"It was dramatic, but it was cool," said a beaming Gonzales. "The place erupted and I was just getting swarmed by hugs. It was awesome."
Matt Swanson, a regional scout for the Cardinals, called Gonzales after the selection.
"He called me and just said, ‘On behalf of Cardinal nation, we welcome you. We're excited and couldn't be more happy with our pick,'" Gonzales said. "I was floating, I don't really remember that conversation much. It was cool. It was awesome."
The Cardinals were one of the teams he had been in communication with leading up to the draft, Gonzales said.
"The Cardinals is just a great organization; known for their pitching prowess," he said. "Their farm system is just incredible. I was hoping they were one of the teams that was seriously considering me and liked me a lot. I was grateful that they chose me."
Gonzales was both a left-handed starter and first baseman during his three years at Gonzaga. He will be a full-time pitcher in professional baseball.
Gonzales went 7-3 with a 2.80 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 17 games on the mound (16 starts) this season. The lefty led Gonzaga with 106 innings pitched and two complete-game shutouts. The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder was the 2013 Co-WCC Player of the Year, along with No. 2 pick Kris Bryant.
With the young pitching prospects in the organization that have quickly ascended the Minor Leagues -- Michael Wacha (2012 draft) and Shelby Miller (2009) are both pitching for the big league team -- the Cardinals are certainly not going to force Gonzales to progress slowly.
And there certainly are those who believe Gonzales has the ability to move through the Minors rapidly. Both analysts and those close to him voiced that opinion.
"I think it's the ability to rise up and to play at a level that is maybe beyond what you're expected," said his dad Frank, a former pitcher. "He's shown that he's done well in high school, he's had a nice collegiate career, he's done some things on the international scene. When the lights come on at the end of the day, if I was a betting guy, I'd bet on him to win. He just wins.
"I can't put a finger on it, but there's something about him that ticks that tries to put his team [on his back] and really make guys around him better. He usually wins."
Gonzales is the highest player ever drafted out of Gonzaga. Pitcher Clayton Mortensen previously held that distinction after being selected 36th overall by the Cardinals in 2007.
"I think that's a step forward," said Gonzaga head coach Mark Machtolf. "We're always trying to make steps with our program and we continue to do that. [To] have a guy who commits to Gonzaga and then fulfills his expectations and dreams -- gets drafted 19th overall -- I think that's huge for us."