As it stands today, the St. Louis Cardinals have ‘4’ total prospects within ‘Baseball America’s Top 100 MLB Prospects List’ for 2018. (Alex Reyes, Jack Flaherty, Carson Kelly, & Tyler O’Neill.) Within the Cardinals Farm System, four of the top five have already made their Major League Debut. So the big question is, who is next?
Although the current roster is nearly set in the category of Outfielders, it is imminent that #4 prospect Tyler O’Neill is very much darkening the door.
Since the roles of all three OF positions are locked down, it is unlikely that O’Neill will make an appearance in 2018. Bader or Martinez more than likely find themselves ahead of O’Neill in the fight for the fourth OF-er position.
A more likely scenario, would involve that of a Bullpen Arm. Injury, lack of production, or struggles early on could easily lead to a call up out of the pen.
However, from an overall standpoint, it is tough to tell just who may enter the picture next as far as position. To me, the answer is rather simple. It is clear that in 2017, the St. Louis Cardinals did not have one of the better bullpens in baseball. It lacked luster, production, and dominance. More significantly, the bullpen lacked consistency. Recently (late February), comments have been made by the Front Office indicating that they are indeed done making moves. If this remains to be the case, then there is a chance that moves in the future would surely be made within the Farm System Itself.
By position, the next player to the show will surely come in the form of a pitcher. The attention, shifts to the #14 overall prospect in the Cardinals Organization; LHP Austin Gomber. In 2017, lefty Brett Cecil struggled out of the pen. His ERA posted at 3.88. It is obvious that the establishment of Austin Gomber could surely lock down the role of “lefty specialist.”
This in fact, is if Cecil is still unable to execute within the way it is seen fit. Austin Gomber was scouted to have had an above average fastball with plenty of “rising action.” This is very important in setting the tone for an at bat. Since Gomber is yet to make his MLB Debut, it is tough to tell exactly what he can bring to the table.
Overall, it is unclear as to how much execution and consistency he can bring to the team. Once this is certain however; there is a sure reason why Mr. Gomber finds himself within the Cardinals Top 25 Prospects List.
In his first season with the Springfield Cardinals (2016), Gomber posted a brief 1-0 record in 4 games. His ERA was a solid 1.40. His next season with SPR, Austin appeared in 26 games. Within this span, he posted a rather consistently subtle record of 10-7. His ERA, stood at 3.34. His strikeout total, was a rather impressive 140. It is prominent, that Gomber has the ability to miss a significant number of bats. This, would surely prove beneficial at the Major League Level.
Gomber’s Scouted Attributes/Pitch Types
Per Brooks Baseball, Austin Gomber threw 110 pitches that were tracked in 2016. These were all in Fall/Winter Ball. Gomber possesses three different pitch types: a four-seam fastball, changeup, & a curveball. It was stated, that Gomber had the ability to produce an above average amount of ground balls with his fastball. His changeup, generates an extremely high number of swings & misses. This was compared to many other “average” changeups within the league. His change had surprising cut action, & was able to produce a large amount of fly balls in the process.
What was noticed first and foremost, was the amount of backspin on Gomber’s off-speed pitch. His final pitch (only thrown 16 times in 2016), showed above average velocity, with a heavy downward bite. It was noticed that this curve by Gomber, was thrown harder than normal. As well as possessed “slider-like” movement.
#31, stands at 6’5” and weighs a stout 235 lbs. His batting & throwing are both from the left side. Born on 11/23/1993 (24 years old) in FL, Mr. Gomber was definitely has a future in the Majors.
(It must be stated, that more than likely Gomber’s first MLB Appearance would come as a reliever out of the pen. Due to the lack of experience at the Big League Level, it is unlikely that Gomber be thrust into the starting rotation right away.)
Just as it began with Carlos Martinez, Alex Reyes, or Adam Wainwright, they worked out of the pen early on in their careers. Since the loss of Lefty Kevin Siegrist, it will be important to secure Gomber a spot as he looks to produce on the main stage.
Keep a look out #CardinalNation. As projected by myself, it is only a matter of time before Austin Gomber makes it to the Show. His is knocking on the door. Soon (very soon), he will be let inside. Gomber’s first MLB Strikeout and save, is only one call away and it WILL come in 2018.