Editors Note: Eddie Gamboa had one of the best seasons of any pitcher in the Orioles farm system. He catapulted from the South Atlantic League (Low-A) to the Eastern League (AA) in his first full professional season.
10/27/2009 9:25 PM ET
'Birds In the AFL...Eddie Gamboa
Eddie Gamboa Interview from the Arizona Fall League
Gamboa spent the entire first half of the season shredding apart the SAL. In 16 appearances for the Shorebirds, he posted a perfect 6-0 mark with a 1.86 ERA.
Following the all-star break, Gamboa earned the call up to Frederick. In 14 outings for the Keys, he went 4-0 with a 0.55 ERA. He did not allow a run in his first 20.2 innings (nine appearances).
After dominating the Carolina League, the Orioles decided to advance test Gamboa in the Eastern League with Bowie. In seven outings towards the end of the season, he went 1-0 with a flawless 0.00 ERA.
Bret Lasky recently caught up with Eddie Gamboa from the Arizona Fall League. Enjoy the transcript below.
Shorebirds: Describe the first half of your season in Delmarva? What will you remember about your stay on the Eastern Shore of Maryland?
Eddie Gamboa: The first half of the season was the best time I had all year. I was fortunate to have an amazing host family (Eric and Coral) who treated me as their very own. My two roommates (Drake and Allar) made the Delmarva experience even better. With the Shorebirds, I was content with the way ball was going and my living situation was so incredible therefore when the time came for me to relocate to Frederick, I was a little nervous. Delmarva truly started to become home. Just when it began to feel right, I was on my way to Frederick to do it all over again.
Shorebirds: What was your reaction when you got the call to Frederick? How was your stay in Frederick?
EG: My reaction of course was to jump in the air and give the closest person to me a big fat kiss. Two of my teammates, Esposito and Egan, also received the call, which made the transaction to Frederick a lot smoother by having their familiar faces around. I was truly excited to have the opportunity to compete at a higher level and to take the experience I gained in Delmarva to further develop my skills as a ball player as a member of such a prestigious organization as the Frederick Keys. Getting the call up was a checkpoint that let me know I was on the right track on where I wanted to go.
SB: How excited were you to get another promotion to Bowie? Tell us about your time in Bowie.
EG:I was caught off guard when I found out I got the promotion to AA. It was a wonderful surprise to further advance within the O's organization. I looked at it as a reflection of their confidence in my ability and I was determined to fulfill that expectation. In Bowie, I had the opportunity to work with talented players and a knowledgeable coaching staff and I was ecstatic to be that much closer to my childhood dream.
SB: Many people who may not have known you well were surprised by your rapid rise through the system. Were you?
EG: I was surprised. As a Minor League Ball Player, you are surrounded by talented players and everyone is striving to make it to that next step. Coming into the 2009 Season, I knew my strengths and weaknesses. My game plan was to stick with my strengths and play the game one pitch at a time. By doing so, I could limit my mistakes. In order to rise through the Orioles system, I had to develop the mindset that I needed to treat every pitch like it was game 7 of the World Series. I think it is mindset that can bring out the best in everyone. Although I was surprised I was able to make it to Bowie, I had the confidence that sticking to this philosophy could make such advancement possible.
SB: What were the keys to your great season in 2009?
EG: -Strike one. You have to stay ahead in the count. In doing so, you keep the hitter guessing and make his at bat a defensive one rather than offensive. Statistically, there is a big difference when a hitter is hitting with an 0-1 count rather than 1-0. By using this approach, I was able to find success in keeping the hitters off-balance.
-Command. I had to command the strike zone with three different pitches. When I have command, not only do I control the plate inside and out, but I control the game as well.
- Pre-Season Goals. My goal was to make my slider and changeup look like a fastball out of my hand. On the off-season, I focused on developing this skill and I believe it contributed to my success in the 2009 season.
-Determination. When I was on the mound, I had to be mentally prepared for every outing. For example, if a runner got on 1B, I would do anything possible to prevent them from touching 2B. If they got on 2B or 3B, they were not touching home plate. Mentally, these were the ideas that were going through my head. This to me was 80% of the battle. The other 20% was taking care of my body and throwing strikes.
-Support group. Throughout my 3 stops in the O's organization, my family and friends back home in California were rooting for me the whole time. Their ears were glued on the internet hoping to hear Bret Lasky say I was warming up getting ready to enter the game. My biggest goal playing the game was to give it my very best every time out in attempt to make them all very proud. I also had the "Gamboa Gang" in Delmarva. It was a fan club that watched me play in all 3 stops as well. This support group was and will forever be the key to any kind of success I have in this lifetime.
SB: Now that you have AA experience, do you feel close to the big leagues?
EG: I do feel close, but I know that I have a lot of things I still need to work on. Toward the end of the season, my body was starting to feel fatigued. Unfortunately, I was making frequent stops in the training room in the month of August. One of my goals in this offseason is to dedicate more time in the gym. By doing so I will give myself a better opportunity becoming a true Oriole and fulfilling my life long dream of competing in the big leagues.
SB: You are playing for the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the prestigious Arizona Fall League. How is that going? Tell us about some of the experiences in the AFL.
EG: It is going very well. I have the opportunity to play with and against some of the best players in Minor League Ball. I cannot think of a better place I would want to be. I am a strong believer of "you have to play the best to be the best", and I want to be the best baseball player I can possibly be. Guys here can hit the ball a long way. It is still the same game, just fewer mistakes. And if you make those mistakes, you will pay for it. But this is how you get better.
SB: Fans would kill me if I didn't ask you about Stephen Strasburg. You are playing on the same team. What kind of person is he? How good do you think he can be?
EG: He is the real deal. He is a hard working kid that can throw four pitches for a strike and that is even before you mention his 100mph fastball. He truly is a great talent and I believe will be the 2nd most important person in D.C. right next to Obama. He is reserved off the field and a Warrior once he steps on that mound. He is determined to be one of best of all time and I think he will be.
SB: Who is the best hitter that you have faced/seen in the Arizona Fall League so far?
EG: Grant Desme with Oakland A's Organization is the best hitter I have seen here in the AFL. In 10 games that he has played in, he has 8HR and is hitting .442. The good thing about this is that he is on my team and I do not have to face him.
SB: The 2006 MLB All-Star game featured 25 AFL alums. How does that make you feel?
EG: It truly is an honor being a part of such a prestigious league. It lets me know that my hard work is paying off and I am on the right track in being where I want to be. I am very excited to have the opportunity in showing my style of pitching here and representing the Baltimore Orioles in such a remarkable environment.
SB: What are the Orioles telling you about next season? Where do you expect to be at the start of the season?
EG: I would like to start right where I left off, in AA. As I discussed earlier, there are still many things I need to work on. I know it is the time and effort I put in this offseason that will determine where I end up at the beginning of next season. I am looking forward to it. Although I love Delmarva, I hope I do not start there next season. :)
SB: What are you going to do when the AFL ends and before spring training begins? Any jobs lined up?
EG: During the offseason, I stay around the game of baseball and work indoor at a baseball academy called Hard 90. I give pitching lessons to kids from ages 7-17 and work on proper mechanics and pitching grips that can benefit them in the long run in terms of throwing strikes consistently and staying healthy while doing so. I have a great time doing it and it keeps me young.
SB: Are you at all tired? You've been on the road playing baseball for the last eight months. Describe the grind.
EG: Although it has been a long season, I have had the time of my life experiencing it. While my body may be feeling the aches and pains of a long season, my passion and love of the game more than makes up for it. Baseball has also opened up many doors in my life outside the field. I have always wanted to travel around the U.S and visit big name cities like New York, D.C, and even Delmarva. I love all the things different cities can bring, especially the food. I tried crab on the east coast and had brats in the mid west. Growing up on the west coast I never had the chance to try these foods, and traveling has allowed this. Now I am in Phoenix and I can even see myself living here (well only for fall and winter when the weather is perfect). So, even though the grind can be a challenge, the game gives me back so much more. I love traveling, I love food, and I love baseball. I can't think of any better way to spend 8 months.
SB: If you weren't playing professional baseball, what would you be doing?
EG: Next question...:)
SB: What would your advice be to people like yourself, who were not highly touted out of high school or college?
EG: All I can say is never lose faith. With hard work and a little luck, anything is possible. I was signed in the 21st round in the 2008 draft. Also, I was 23 yrs old which, in baseball years, means I was older than most. However by the Orioles picking me up, it showed me that they had the confidence in me that I could do something great with baseball. My job from then on was to not let them down. In one year, I have been fortunate enough to go from rookie short season to AA, and on top of that, earn a roster spot in the AFL. And although I am very excited in where I am, I am not done yet.
SB: Time for some quick hitters Eddie.
Favorite Food? Chicken and my moms home cookin'
Favorite Movie? For Love of the Game
Favorite MLB Team? I grew up loving the Dodgers but the O's are starting to grow on me
Favorite MLB Player? Alex Rodriguez
Favorite TV Show? Fresh Prince of Bel Air
The Shorebirds would like to send a big thank you to Eddie Gamboa for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions. Follow Gamboa and the Phoenix Desert Dogs online by Clicking Here
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.