Baltimore Orioles: Eddie Gamboa Signed to Major League Contract


Oct 22, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; A general view of baseballs before game two of the 2014 World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

As previously with Oliver Drake, the Baltimore Orioles have signed a recent farmhand who became a minor league free agent – inking knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa to a major league contract.

Gamboa is putting up some really good numbers right now in the Mexican League. Pitching for Mayos de Navojoa in the Liga Mexicana del Pacifico, he is currently 4-2 with a 1.33 ERA.  In 54 innings, he has yielded 42 hits while striking out 49 and only giving up six walks. Batters are hitting .214, with lefties having the most trouble at .190.

Between the good winter season (following an up-and-down 2014 campaign), along with interest from other teams, the Orioles have now filled the 40-man roster with this addition.

Dan Duquette told Roch Kubatko of MASN

"“We were considering adding him to the roster before he became a free agent and at the time we decided not to put him on the roster; but after watching the progress he’s made in Mexico and understanding the interest in the marketplace, it required us to put him on the roster.”"

The California native and collegiate pitcher at UC Davis was originally drafted by the Orioles in the 21st round in 2008. He has a career minor league ERA of 3.44.

A decision was made in the spring of 2013 to turn Gamboa into a knuckleball pitcher. The challenge is, of course, to learn to control the pitch and make it an asset rather than a liability. It was indeed a great asset for him on June 30, 2013 when he pitched a no-hitter for AA Bowie.

The challenge and “learning curve” is evident in the chart below which shows his two years before making the change, followed by the two years since. Generally speaking, the batting average against has gone down a good bit, while the ERA has slightly risen. At the same time, the base on balls rate has more than doubled, while the strikeout rate has also increased.


Feb 22, 2014; Sarasota, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles pitcher Eddie Gamboa (80) poses for a picture during photo day at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles have had him pitching almost exclusively as a starter, to give him the sufficient innings to get the feel for the pitch. But one would have to imagine that any MLB future is going to most likely be out of the bullpen.

Another issue that is on the record for Eddie Gamboa is a 50-game suspension in 2014 for taking a medication for a thyroid condition. He attempted to get an exemption, but was unsuccessful. At the time he told Steve Melewski of MASN

"“I wasn’t doing this as a performance enhancer. I’m a knuckleball pitcher. I don’t throw anything above 80 mph. This was for me to live a healthy life.”"

That does seem reasonable … something the drug policy increasingly sounds to not be, though a hard stand did need to be taken by MLB.

This also seems like a reasonable signing. It would appear that Gamboa is getting the touch and feel for the knuckleball, and perhaps he can help the Orioles in the near future.