There isn’t much left for Eddie Gamboa to prove.
After stints pitching in Triple A over the last five seasons, Gamboa is simply awaiting his chance. He’s doing his best to force the Tampa Bay Rays’ hands, putting forth one of the finest seasons of his career at age 31.
The Merced High School alum is 4-2 with a 2.13 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 55 innings. The right-hander has displayed his versatility to his new club as well, excelling out of the Durham bullpen to open the year. The Bulls have recently started stretching him out as well, making starts in four of his last five outings.
Gamboa hasn’t skipped a beat, allowing just one run and nine hits in 16 1/3 innings during those starts. His longest outing of the season came Tuesday night, when he allowed one run and three hits with three strikeouts in six innings. He exited in line for the win, but the Bulls couldn’t hold a 6-1 lead.
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The problem for Gamboa is the same as it’s been his entire career. He moved from one pitching-rich system to another when he left the Baltimore Orioles to join the Rays this year. That, coupled with Gamboa being a 21st-round pick, and therefore never considered a major prospect, has had him perpetually on the cusp of the show looking in. Gamboa got a brief call-up with the O’s in April 2015 but never got into game action.
With the Rays 20 games under .500 through Tuesday, odds are they will be sellers at the trade deadline. That or an injury or two could yet present Gamboa with an opportunity at the major-league level. Meanwhile, the knuckleballer keeps plugging away.
Cody Martin, Triple-A Tacoma – Much like Gamboa, Martin has shown that Triple A doesn’t have much challenge left to offer. The 26-year-old Dos Palos grad is 8-5 with a 3.63 ERA and 85 strikeouts to just 30 walks in 15 starts and 20 appearances.
Martin has been particularly lights out his last five starts, yielding just three runs and striking out 32 in 32 innings. The right-hander is 1-0 in two appearances with the Mariners this year and waiting for another call-up.
Curtis Partch, Triple-A Indianapolis – Lather, rinse, repeat. Like the two local minor leaguers before him, Partch is having an excellent season and just waiting for an extended chance at the big-league level. He and Martin were called up within days of one another, but Partch had just one rough appearance before going back down.
The Merced High and Merced College grad is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA and three saves with Indianapolis this season and has averaged 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings.
Ben Griset, Advanced-A St. Lucie – The former Gustine ace’s transition to the Florida State League in his fourth professional season has gone smoothly. The 24-year-old southpaw has posted a 0.75 ERA in 22 relief appearances.
Griset has allowed an earned run since May 15, spanning 13 outings and 20 1/3 innings.
Derick Velazquez, Class-A Tri-City – The former Los Banos High and Merced College hurler hasn’t pitched since 2014 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Remarkably little has been written about the right-hander’s recovery, but on June 17, the Houston Astros assigned the 2014 seventh-round pick to Tri-City.
Blake Cederlind, Appalachian (rookie) League, Bristol – One bad outing has inflated Cederlind’s ERA early, but the former Merced College right-hander has made five starts since the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted him in the fifth round in June.
Cederlind is coming off his best start to date, allowing no runs and two hits in a career-high four innings on July 18.
Daulton Jefferies, unassigned – The Oakland A’s late first-round pick wasted little time signing but has yet to play in the minors. The A’s sent him to the team’s minor-league camp to continue rehabbing a shoulder strain that cost him a couple months at Cal in the spring.
Bradin Hagens, Japan Central League Hiroshima – After seven years in the minors with the Arizona and Tampa Bay organizations, Hagens opted for a change of scenery in 2016. The former Merced College star signed with the Hiroshima Carp and seems to have adapted well to life in Japan.
Hagens is 4-1 this season with a 2.01 ERA in 34 relief appearances.