He may never actually pitch for the Orioles in a regular season game, but for a moment, Eddie Gamboa had a locker at Camden Yards. So, we may as well fill in all of you Camden Chatters on who exactly is the 30-year-old right-hander should he make a return and actually have to, ya know, play.
There was really no talk about Gamboa prior to 2013. He was a 21st-round draft pick out of the University of California, Davis back in 2008. As a senior coming out, he was already older than nearly everyone he played against in Delmarva and Frederick.
Low-level ball was a breeze for Gamboa, pitching to an ERA of 1.86 in 18 games with the Shorebirds and 0.55 in 14 games with the Keys. By the end of his second professional season, 2009, he had already made it to Double-A Bowie where he was finally on par with his peers as far as age goes.
Bowie is where he has been for the better part of the last five years. He has bounced around the farm a bit, making appearances with Triple-A Norfolk and seeing some time with the young guys in Aberdeen, but Bowie has been his "home".
He is what you might call a Double-A-plus kind of player. The California native has excelled in Double-A (3.35 ERA over six seasons), but he has run into trouble against the more veteran hitters in Triple-A (5.10 ERA over three seasons).
Prior to the 2013 campaign, Gamboa worked with Hall-of-Famer Phil Niekro in Spring Training to develop a knuckle-ball. In his first season using it, it worked out well. He threw a no-hitter in June of that year, but, as always, it was against the younger Double-A hitters.
When he made the jump to Norfolk, he was pounded to the tune of a 6.23 ERA and a WHIP of 1.59 in 43.1 innings of work. However, he was brought back to begin 2014 with the Tides.
Gamboa was making strides as a part of Norfolk's rotation. He made 12 starts and pitched to a 4.06 ERA. Included in that were three starts of seven innings or longer. His best appearance was May 2 against the Scranton-Wilkes Barre RailRiders (Yankees affiliate), when he threw seven innings of shut-out ball and struck out six. Granted, the only names I recognize from the RailRiders lineup that day are Austin Romine and Zealous Wheeler, but it was still progress
Unfortunately, the 6-foot-1 righty made headlines that June when he was suspended 50 games for violating the Minor League drug policy. He was found to have "exogenous testosterone", a performance-enhancing substance, in his system. That's a no-no, but he is far from the first minor leaguer getting long in the tooth that has tried to improve his game a bit.
Gamboa went to Spring Training with the big club this year after signing a Major League contract in the offseason, but failed to impress. He tossed three innings, giving up six runs on five hits and just one strikeout in that time. It was a stark contrast to his 2014 Spring Training performance in which he tossed 4.2 scoreless innings. But then again, he was probably on the juice at that time.
The reality is that Gamboa was and will be a place-holder on the 2015 Orioles. He is a "just-in-case" kind of guy. He is on the 40-man roster, but David Lough returned from the disabled list Monday evening, allowing manager Buck Showalter to revert back to his comfort zone of having 13 hitters and 12 pitchers.
While it doesn't seem like Gamboa has the stuff of a Major League pitcher, there were apparently multiple teams interested in him this past winter after a good showing in an off-season league. If he gets snapped up by some team, and the O's are mentioned in the next edition of Moneyball, we are all going to look rather silly.