This article was originally published at the Redbird Daily by Colin Garner, and is now proud to call the Cards Conclave home. Throughout July, we’ll be re-running all 30 Prospect articles as we lead up to Colin’s Mid-Season Prospect Update later in the month.
In Collaboration with Kyle Reis and Birds On The Black, Colin Garner presents you with The Cardinals Top 30 Prospects! Today, we have #9, Austin Gomber.
9. Austin Gomber – LHP
4th Round – 2014 Draft
Entering age-24 season
2017 ERA: 3.34
What I Like
Without a doubt, Austin Gomber was the ace of the Springfield staff by season’s end. Over the final month of the season, he managed to bring his ERA down nearly a full run, from 4.27 to 3.34. During that stretch of games, Gomber was firing on all cylinders. He was being aggressive with his fastball, which is no surprise to anyone that has watched him pitch, but he was effectively using his offspeed pitches.
His repertoire is fairly typical: fastball, curveball, and changeup. His curveball can be unhittable at times, in part due to the deception he creates with his delivery.
I highly suggest watching the video above. With it, you can really get a sense of how Gomber has success. He gets ahead with fastballs. He works the hitter into a 1-2 count and throws a really good changeup that’s below the knees, but a little too far off the plate to generate a swing. Then he freezes the hitter with a curveball for the strikeout. When you couple three legitimate pitches with a funky delivery, there’s a chance for success.
Gomber’s also a bulldog on the mound. In his start on August 4th, when he went seven shutout innings, he was stomping around the mound and sniping at umpires. Honestly, it reminded me of John Lackey or Chris Carpenter. It wasn’t like he was pouting or throwing a fit, either. He feeds off that energy, and you could see him getting better, and more intense, as he got deeper and deeper into his start.
What I Don’t Like
I hate the ways Gomber’s first half overshadowed how truly dominant he was in the second half. In his first Double-A start, he didn’t make it out of the first innings and gave up five runs (four earned). His ERA sat at 54.00, and that number seemed to come up anytime Gomber’s name did.
Then, on May 26, Gomber went on the 7-Day DL with a quad strain. He was activated on June 9 but gave up ten earned runs over his next to starts, which covered only 7 2/3 innings combined.
By this point in the season, his rotation mates were getting promoted. Flaherty was the first to go, and deservedly so. On July 1st, it was evident that Dakota Hudson was ready for Triple-A even if the promotion hadn’t come yet. Alcantara was touch and go, but was still lighting up radar guns every five days. Gomber was in the background, working to overcome the adversity he faced early in the season.
I felt Gomber deserved a call-up at the end of Springfield’s season. Whether it should have been Memphis, for the PCL playoffs, or St. Louis is a moot point: Gomber was pitching more than well enough to keep pitching until the end of September. It had to be frustrating, especially for someone who tweeted this…
2017 Goals? –> 700 Clark St, St Louis MO.
— Austin Gomber (@AustinGomber) January 2, 2017
Fortunately for Gomber, I’d be shocked if he didn’t arrive in 2018.
Thanks for reading!