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 Minor League News & Autograph Blog Home

Top Prospect Alert - Jimmy Gobble

By Schuyler Dombroske

DOB: 7/19/81, Age: 21, Height: 6’3’’, Weight: 190, Bats: L, Throws: L. Acquired: Royals - Drafted in the 1st Round (supplemental portion) of the 1999 Draft (John S. Battle HS, Bristol, VA). 2001 Stats: (High-A - Wilmington) 10-6, 2.55 ERA, 162 IP, 134 H, 33 BB, 154 K. 2002 Stats: (AA - Wichita) 5-7, 3.38 ERA, 69 IP, 71 H, 3 HR, 19 BB, 52 K.
   You know all of those people that have said for the past two or three years that Jimmy Gobble was a lot like Chris George with better stuff, and then rated him a few slots lower than George on their lists for the Royals? Perhaps they should have had the courage of their convictions, because for the last three seasons, Jimmy Gobble has been the Royals’ best pitching prospect. Gobble, a compensation pick for the “loss” of Dean Palmer, has three major league quality pitches: a fastball that sits around 90 mph, a 12-to-6 curve that is his best pitch, and a changeup that is much better than most young pitchers’. His control of these pitches is fantastic, as he has posted walk ratios of 2.11, 1.83, and 2.48 in his short career. Best of all, he has shown the ability to get hitters out without putting the ball in play, with strikeout rates of 7.14, 8.56, and 6.78 over that same period. In fact, were it not for the nagging groin injury (and possibly more worrisome, the fleeting shoulder soreness) that plagued him last season, I would be willing to anoint Gobble as one of the top ten pitching prospects in the minors right now. When we look back after Gobble has been in the majors for a while, the best thing for his career might be shutting down in July of 2002. For now, people are questioning his development track, but I feel comfortable saying that he will be that much better for it over the long run. One point of caution: Gobble has thrown a lot of curveballs at a young age, and had that shoulder soreness last summer as well. I cannot remember a pitcher that relies heavily on a curveball staying healthy throughout their development years, so further injury troubles are not just a possibility, but a likelihood. That makes the decision to shut Gobble down last year look that much smarter to me.
    Unfortunately for Gobble, pitching prospects have been cropping up all over the system in the past twelve months, while he has been relatively silent. By the time he gets going again, players like Jeremy Affeldt, Miguel Asencio, Ryan Bukvich, Mike Macdougal, Runelvys Hernandez, and Chris George may have gone a long way toward establishing themselves on Kansas City’s pitching staff. Fortunately, only Albie Lopez, Sean Lowe, Jason Grimsley, and James Baldwin have any kind of major league performance level (among spring training invitees) to back up their current results, but it is still a daunting pile of bodies to vault over. Gobble actually has a chance to make the Royals right out of spring training, but I think that is an extremely unlikely outcome. The probable KC rotation for April, at this point, would be Hernandez, Baldwin, Affeldt, Lopez, and George or Darrell May. Affeldt and Hernandez look like they might be there to stay, but the rest of the arms could stand to be upgraded at some point. That point, for Jimmy Gobble anyway, may very well come in 2003, and ought to come by 2004 at the latest. A good comparison for Gobble might be the Phillies’ Randy Wolf, although Gobble’s control has been a touch better than Wolf’s thus far in their respective careers. That might be enough to project Gobble as a #2 starter over Wolf’s likely #3 status, but either outcome will result in an above average major league pitcher. Gobble is slated to start 2003 in AAA, which is ambitious for a pitcher with 69 IP above A ball. If all goes well, he will see Kansas City sometime this season.  


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