JUPITER, FL. (KMOV.com) -- Though Roger Dean Stadium wasn’t exactly rocking, Wednesday brought a new energy to Cardinal camp.
Live baseball was being played for the first time all spring, as the Cardinals took on Florida Atlantic University in an exhibition game.
Austin Gomber, drafted out of FAU in 2014, got the start against his former teammates.
“I wasn’t really a big guy out of high school, and that was the only school that really gave me a chance. To be here in my first big league camp, and to start game one against them, it was pretty special,” he said.
Gomber, who pitched his way to a 15-3 season last year in Peoria, has certainly turned heads since his high school days. He was selected by the Cardinals in the fourth round in 2014, and was named the co-Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2015.
Despite his success (140 strikeouts, 97 hits and 34 walks in 135 innings), the 6’5 lefty is in the enviable position receiving big league camp invite after just one season in the minors.
“I wouldn’t say expecting, I was more hoping for the opportunity,” he said. “But then again, I played all year in low A. Not a lot of guys that play in low A get to come here, so when I got the call it was pretty exciting.”
He was able to channel that excitement into an impressive couple of innings, allowing no hits or walks and striking out three. Afterward he called it some of the most fun he’s ever had on a baseball field.
“Yeah, because he was dealing,” Matheny chuckled as he recapped the game. “He was terrific. The hook was sharp, threw some good changeups and was locating his fastball. He was a definite bright spot today.”
Another couple of bright lights were Patrick Wisdom and Jacob Wilson, two minor league infielders with power. The Cardinals fell behind 6-1 after FAU scored five runs off the Daniel Poncedeleon and another off Corey Littrell in the fourth, but put up 12 in the bottom of the eighth to win 13-6. That volley was supercharged by Wilson’s grand slam (he had five RBI on the day) and capped Wisdom’s two-run shot (to give him four RBI) in the inning.
It wasn’t exactly a comeback in the NLCS, but for the rookies in camp, any success is something to build on, especially this early.
“It doesn’t matter if it was a full Busch stadium, with 40,000-50,000 people or being out here,” Matheny said. “They’re competing to show what they can do and it doesn’t matter who it’s against.”
Seung Hwan Oh also appeared for an inning, allowing no hits and striking out one.