You have to feel good for a guy who, after pitching for six seasons in 164 games and over 584 1/3 innings, gets his first shot on a club's 40-man roster.
Right-hander Eddie Gamboa, who will turn 29 in December and who was drafted by the Orioles in round 21 in 2008, finally made it to the 40-man for the first time last night.
His long road to get there included a lot of time in Double-A Bowie, nine games this season at Triple-Norfolk and his conversion this season to a knuckleball pitcher.
He went 6-11 with a 4.43 ERA over 25 starts. Things began to really turn for him in June, when he went 3-1 with a 1.27 ERA and .100 batting average against during a four-start stretch with Bowie, which included a seven-inning no-hitter.
Right around that time, I interviewed Gamboa and you can read that here.
In nine starts with Norfolk, Gamboa went 2-5 with a 6.23 ERA. Not great stats, for sure, but the ERA was inflated by his last start, where he gave up eight runs over 1 1/3 innings. He did hold International League hitters to a .244 batting average.
Now he is in Mexico, continuing to work on his game in winter ball.
When I called Gamboa last night to get his reaction to being added to the 40-man, I could not reach him. It probably had something to do with his being out of the country. But he did leave me a very thoughtful and passionate response via e-mail on his journey to the 40-man. It will be worth your time to read it.
Here is what he wrote:
"Very excited to be added to the 40. I've done it all with the Os, started, relief, and now a knuckleball. I'm doing all I can to fit in with the organization, and at the same time, prolong my career as a professional baseball player. I'm doing what I love, and after 6 years, still moving forward! Today, I was able to reach a goal, but I'm not done yet:)
"I felt as though I took a step back with the knuckleball. In AA, I had great success mixing it in with my conventional stuff. I got to AAA, and began throwing it 80-90%. Never felt as though I was myself there. And that was a terrible feeling, but I stuck with it. Now here in Mexico, I'm back to my AA days where I'm using it as an out pitch as oppose to my primary pitch. But after making some minor adjustments with my mechanics, I've been able to command the strike zone with all my pitches and maybe added a little more life to the fastball. All in all, I'm able to compete!!
"Today's news is telling me that I'm doing something right. I sacrificed my offseason (being with family and friends, home cooked meals, resting my body physically and mentally) to destroy the bitter taste I had in my time in AAA. I didn't finish the year strong. In fact, my last start was the worst outing I have ever had in my life. I had achieved many great things in 2013, but I couldn't finish the year like that. I needed to find an identity again. I felt as though I could still compete with all my weapons (pitches) as a pitcher. And I believe I am doing that out here in Mexico, hoping to turn some heads every time I step foot on the mound."
Gamboa is 3-1 with a 1.38 ERA through six starts in Mexico. Over 39 innings he has walked 12 and fanned 22. Over his last three starts he has thrown 19 1/3 scoreless innings.
His career is definitely trending up and that is great to see for a player that has put in so much time and effort. When you read his own words, you can tell yesterday was not just another day in his life.