The 6th former Valley Leaguer to earn prospect status is the former Luray Wrangler Austin Gomber (2012). Austin was drafted by the Cardinals out of Florida Atlantic in the 4th round in 2014. Since then, he’s dominated minor league hitters in both the New-York Penn and Midwest Leagues. Austin was written up by three different websites.
Fangraphs pegs Austin as the #16 prospect in the St. Louis system.
Gomber has the look of a solid back-half starter with three potential average or better pitches. He throws strikes at a solid rate, and even saw an uptick in strikeouts in his full-season stint in Single-A. The only blemish is how his arm can look disconnected from the rest of his body with some stiff actions at times, which contributes to his command lagging behind his overall control. Nonetheless, lefties with a couple pitches and good control have a place in every big-league staff, and Gomber looks to be one of those guys. If the effort doesn’t settle down, he still has a reliable future working out of the bullpen.
MLB.com has him one spot lower, at #17:
A big lefty out of Florida Atlantic taken in the fourth round of the 2014 Draft, Gomber absolutely dominated the Midwest League during his first full season of pro ball, leading the Cardinals organization in wins, WHIP and batting average against, while finishing second in strikeouts to top prospect Alex Reyes.
While Gomber’s stuff doesn’t jump off the page, he does have two above-average pitches at his disposal. His 90-92 mph fastball plays up because of its life. He gets many swings and misses off of his changeup, his best pitch, maintaining his arm speed very well while throwing it. The Cardinals call his breaking ball a curve, but it’s more of a 78-80 mph slurve, which can be an effective third pitch. Gomber throws all of his pitches for strikes, working both sides of the plate effectively and mixing his pitches well.
Gomber’s upside is somewhat limited to that of a No. 4 or 5 starter, but he seems a safe bet to reach that ceiling. With his advanced pitchability, he could start moving through the system a bit more quickly.
Lastly, John Sickels places Gomber at #15:
Age 22, fourth round pick out of Florida Atlantic in 2014, very successful campaign in Low-A going 15-3, 2.67 with 140/34 K/BB in 135 innings, 97 hits, low-90s fastball delivered from 6-5, 205 frame, best pitch is above-average change-up, has made progress sharpening curveball, control is obviously strong. Could be where Tim Cooney is two years from now.
“Reliable future working out of the pen,” “two above-average pitches,” and “control is strong.” Not bad. I think we’ll see Austin in St. Louis before too long!