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Published On: February 7th, 2014

Eddie Gamboa, a 2007 Express alum, has completed six professional seasons. Five of those have been with the Double-A Affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, the Bowie Baysox. After being drafted in the 21st round and advancing to AA in his second season, Eddie seemed on the fast track to the Major Leagues. After spending four of his first five years at the same level, with solid but not spectacular numbers, he decided to move away from his standard repertoire and start working on his knuckleball in hopes of revitalizing his career in his sixth season of 2013.

In each of his seasons in Bowie, Gamboa put up solid numbers. His earned run average never topped 3.75 whether he was starting or relieving. While those are average numbers that will keep you in professional baseball, they are not necessarily numbers that will get you promoted to the next level and get you noticed among the others. Prior to the switch in repertoire, Gamboa had only a brief stint above AA, appearing in four games (three starts) for Triple-A affiliate Norfolk in 2012. The hope in 2013 was to get an extended opportunity in the highest level of Minor League Baseball.

The toughest part of being a knuckleball pitcher is controlling the pitch. As Gamboa began the 2013 season, he was doing that and getting batters out at the same time. The right-hander began the season in Bowie, appearing in 16 games (all starts) and compiled a 4-6 record with a 3.64 ERA in 99 innings pitched. Gamboa was honored with his first Eastern League Pitcher of the Week award for the week ending June 30. He won both his starts that week, versus the Altoona Curve on June 23 and the Harrisburg Senators on June 30. Against the Curve, he threw 7.1 innings and gave up only one hit, no runs and three walks while striking out seven. His start against the Senators was even more impressive, as he threw a no-hitter in a seven inning game while walking three and striking out five. This earned Eddie a promotion shortly thereafter on July 10 to the Norfolk Tides of the International League.

Eddie’s first extended look at AAA baseball didn’t see him repeat his success controlling his knuckleball that he showed in Bowie. In 43.1 innings pitched, he walked 28 batters which contributed greatly to his 30 earned runs and 6.23 ERA. Despite the disappointing showing in Norfolk to end the season, the Orioles added Gamboa to the 40-man roster on November 20. This generally makes it much easier for a player to make the Major Leagues, as he can be recalled from the minors without the Major League team having to release a player. For Eddie, this was seen as a breakthrough. Unfortunately it was short-lived and he was non-tendered, making him a free agent, on December 2.

After approximately a month of free agency, Gamboa re-signed with the Orioles on a minor league contract on January 13 with an invitation to Major League spring training. What remains to be seen is how he will utilize the knuckleball in 2014. Used mainly as an “out” pitch at AA, he began using it 80-90% of the time at AAA. After poor results there, Gamboa reverted back to using the knuckler more sparingly when pitching in Mexico for Winter Ball. Either way, he will have a chance to make the big league roster this spring beginning when Orioles pitchers and catchers report to Sarasota, Fla. on February 13.