Editor’s Note: the red baron has once again written up a very large number of prospects, done a great job on them, and combined them in just a few posts. You can read those posts, including a dozen reports on players who just missed the list by going here. This post contains a write-up of just a single prospect in a perhaps easier to digest form.-CE
#7: Austin Gomber, LHP
6’5”, 225 lbs; L/L; 23 November 1992
Relevant Stats: 4.21 K:BB ratio, 2.76 FIP (Palm Beach)
So, what’s so great about this guy?
Austin Gomber was, honestly, one of the very toughest players for me to rank in this whole exercise. I will admit I’ve never been all that high on him, from the time the Cardinals drafted him out of Florida Atlantic to his borderline meteoric rise through the minor league ranks over the past two season. I look at him, and I don’t see anything all that great. I see a repertoire that’s overall pretty average, an arm action that frankly scares the hell out of me, and just generally a lack of anything concrete upon which to hang my hat.
But here’s the thing: Austin Gomber just gets outs. A lot of them. And at some point, it matters more what kind of results a pitcher gets than how it looks while he’s getting them. Thus, my aggressive ranking of what is probably the most consistent performer in the Cardinals’ system.
Gomber’s repertoire features a fastball in the 89-91 range, mostly, that he locates consistently and creates nice plane on from a high arm slot. Coming out of college, his changeup was his best pitch, but now it’s tossup for me between the change and a really nice overhand curve that he can put in or out of the zone depending on what he needs. The heater is probably no better than a 50, while I could see slapping 55 grades on either or both of the offspeed pitches. All of which sounds just fine, and probably fairly unremarkable, right?
What really sets Gomber apart is his ability to locate all three of his pitches, and what appears to be a high level of deception in his delivery. Hitters just don’t react to his stuff the way you would expect even minor leaguers to react to average stuff. His timing is funky and he hides the ball behind his leg, and batters just seem to struggle picking his stuff up. Even in the Arizona Fall League this year, baseball’s version of finishing school for prospects, Gomber was consistently getting off-balance swings from the best hitters in the minors, en route to posting a 2.14 ERA in 33.2 AFL innings.
Both Alcantara and Fernandez have higher ceilings than Gomber, not to mention someone like Dakota Hudson whom we saw further back on this list. But Gomber made it to Double A this season, excelled in the AFL, and just might open 2017 in Triple A.
Results matter. And that’s why Austin Gomber is here.
Player Comp: The delivery isn’t quite as funky, but the multiple average offerings and deceptive delivery from a big lefty frame are a little reminiscent of Dontrelle Willis. Not as delightfully goofy to watch, mind you, but that’s the sort of funk we’re talking about.
via Aaron Thorn: