The St. Louis Cardinals got some bad news this week when they learned their top young pitcher Alex Reyes will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss this season. But the significant loss for the Cardinals might just be a huge opportunity for former Florida Atlantic pitcher Austin Gomber.
Gomber has been planning the entire off season to make a name for himself this season. After a very successful stint in the minor leagues and in fall baseball, he is the Cardinals' top left-handed prospect.
"Last year I was the youngest guy in camp," reflects Gomber. "And I was fighting that battle of, you know, should I be here should I not be here? Another year of experience is huge, on the field and off the field confidence wise."
"He answered the call in the (Arizona) Fall League very well," says Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "Which shows that he's ready for some higher level challenges. You're talking big arm, great big left handed hook, the body looks like it can hold up and be durable, I think there's just a lot of things to be excited about."
And it's fitting that Gomber is on the verge of seeing through his major-league dream at spring training just down the road from FAU in Boca Raton, where his baseball work ethic was instilled.
"I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for those guys giving me an opportunity out of high school so I won't forget that," says Gomber. "(FAU head coach John McCormack) is a great baseball coach but, on top of it all, he's a great person first and foremost. He kind of makes everybody in that program a better person when they leave."
Gomber now hopes to prove that he's an even better player, and work towards his first major league game.
"For me it's just consistency," says Gomber. "To show them I'm going to go out every five days and I'm going to give us a chance to win."
John Evenson is a sports anchor/reporter for WPEC CBS-12 in West Palm Beach, Fla. Follow him on Twitter @WPB_Evenson.