Editor’s Note: A.E. Schafer aka the red baron has once again compiled a rather impressive list of Cardinals prospects doing a write-up on 40 individual prospects. As a convenience to our readers, he releases the list in a couple big chunks so everyone can read about all of the prospects at once. While that is a convenience to all of us who eagerly await the arrival of prospect lists, it might not be as convenient if you are looking for a player’s particular scouting report. So, as a further convenience, we are putting the individual scouting reports in separate posts to make individual players easier to find. You can find the full lists on our 2018 prospect page here. —CE
#16: Austin Gomber, LHP
6’5”, 235 lbs; Bats/Throws: Left/Left
DOB: 23 November 1993; Drafted Rd 4 2013
Level(s) in 2017: Springfield (Double A)
Notable Numbers: 143 IP, 3.34 ERA/4.10 FIP, 23.7% K, 8.6% BB
So, what’s so great about this guy?
Austin Gomber just keeps on moving up the ladder of the organisation, one rung at a time. He did receive a late-season promotion to Double A in 2016, but for the most part it’s been methodical, one level per season advancement. Not flashy, not amazing, but solid, dependable improvement.
And that’s really in keeping with the way Gomber pitches, in fact. He’s not flashy, he doesn’t strike out the world (though his K rate this year was very solid), he doesn’t have pyrotechnic stuff. But Austin Gomber just keeps on getting outs, and he keeps on moving closer to St. Louis.
The arsenal for Gomber is solid and diverse, if unexceptional. He works off a fastball that’s a touch below-average in terms of velocity, sitting 89-90, but he locates it well and delivers it on a steep plane from a high arm slot. His curveball is probably his best pitch, and at its best I could see putting a 60 on it. Overall, though, it’s more like a 55. He throws an average changeup and what looks to me like a little cutter, as well, and both are right around average, maybe 45-50 as far as grades, but he mixes up what he’s doing well enough that everything plays together.
The only real concerns for me with Gomber are a home run rate that spiked this year in Springfield, and the fact he walked more hitters this season. Presumably, those two things go together; Gomber attacked the zone with impunity at Peoria and Palm Beach, both tough parks in which to hit, but worked away from contact more often in the Texas League’s smaller stadiums. Low-velocity pitchers always carry some risk that they simply can’t work within the zone as effectively as the guys with bigger stuff, but hopefully Gomber’s smarts and ability to mix pitches will help him avoid those troubles in the future. He’s extremely deceptive, hiding the ball behind his body for a long time, but that also makes his arm very late, and for me increases his risk of injury.
If he’s good, it will look like: Gomber isn’t all that different from Tyler Lyons, though his breaker doesn’t defy physics the way the Cards’ current best reliever is able to. The ceiling for Gomber is probably a #4 starter, but as backend rotation guys go, you could certainly do a whole lot worse.