Prospect Gomber shines against alma mater

Cardinals use a 12-run eighth to down Florida Atlantic

Prospect Gomber shines against alma mater

JUPITER, Fla. -- Before a 12-run eighth flipped a five-run deficit into an eventual 13-6 rout of Florida Atlantic University, the highlight of the Cardinals' exhibition game came from a 22-year-old lefty facing the team he was pitching for two years ago.

FAU alum Austin Gomber drew the start and breezed through two scoreless innings, retiring the Owls with ease on 19 pitches. One of two players in the organization who pitched for FAU, Gomber impressed both his former team and current organization in his spring debut.

"He was terrific," manager Mike Matheny said afterward. "The hook was sharp. He even threw some good changeups. He was locating his fastball. He was definitely a bright spot today."

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A fourth-round pick in the 2014 Draft, Gomber is one of the least experienced pitchers in camp. But the Cardinals wanted to reward him with a Major League invite after he had been named the organization's Minor League co-pitcher of the year in '15.

Pitching for Class A Peoria, Gomber led the Midwest League in wins (15), strikeouts (140), batting average against (.196) and WHIP (0.97) last year. The highlight of his professional career, however, came on Wednesday.

"It was probably some of the most fun I've had on a baseball field, to be honest with you," Gomber said. "It was kind of [everything] coming full circle. I wasn't a big guy coming out of high school. That was really the only school that gave me a chance. And then to be here in my first big league camp and start Game 1 against them was pretty special."

Gomber was followed on the mound by Seung Hwan Oh, the only pitcher projected to be on the Opening Day roster who appeared in the game. Oh retired the side in order on 12 pitches.

The Cardinals trailed, 6-1, entering the eighth but scored 10 runs before a batter was retired in the frame. Jacob Wilson connected for a grand slam, and Patrick Wisdom punctuated the inning with a two-run blast.

WORTH NOTING:

Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha each threw two simulated innings of live batting practice prior to Wednesday's exhibition game. It was the third such session for the starting pitchers, both of whom threw about 35 pitches in total. The Cardinals have not announced when either will make a Grapefruit League start.

Carlos Martinez threw his fifth bullpen session of the spring on Wednesday and is likely to make his next appearance off the mound in a session of live batting practice. The Cardinals modified Martinez's spring program to account for his winter rehab work following last season's shoulder injury.

• Two days after catching his first pitcher this spring, Yadier Molina was back behind the plate on Wednesday receiving pitches from Marco Gonzales. Molina has still not been cleared to swing a bat.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.