Dodgers relief ace prospect Cameron Gibbens is currently cutting a torrid path to the Majors. His strikeout numbers look like they’re coming out of a video game and his talent level is currently far above his peers. Hitters look absolutely flabbergasted by him; whether it’s through his intelligent mixing up of his pitches, his ability to pound a power fastball high in the zone, or the deception in his delivery hitters look completely lost against Gibbens. Of course, the test of Double and Triple-A always await, but with the talent level and mental magnificence behind Gibbens’s approach on the mound one has to wonder if he’ll continue to make quick work of hitters all the way up to the MLB.
Across all pitchers in the MiLB Gibbens ranks in the Top 5 when it comes to strikeout percentage (#3 with 49.09 K%) and K/9 rate (#4 with 17.15 K/9) as well as coming in at #7 with a 37.27% K/BB%. Gibbens has shown great consistency with his ability to strike hitters out. Not only is he tearing them up in the box but he’s greatly minimizing his walk rate. The fact that Gibbens is an aggressive high-heat throwing pitcher with an emphasis on control puts him miles ahead of his peers in terms of talent and development, and this is clearly reflected in his stats.
We here at Dodgers2080 have been following Gibbens all season long with regular updates, in fact, we recently discussed how close he is to claim the Dodgers closer throne for himself come 2022 once Kenley Jansen (likely) walks in Free Agency. Because we’ve recently detailed his current progress we won’t rehash all the details once more. Instead, we’ll let Gibbens do most of the talking this time around.
Here are the highlights of his journey so far:
Cameron Gibbens; 26 years old (born on 4th of July)
Pitched with the Melbourne Aces in the Australian League for two seasons (2019-2020).
First Season (2019): 4.2 IP 5KS
Second Season (2020): 9.2 IP 17 Ks
Signed by Dodgers as an undrafted free agent in 2021 offseason
Made 7 appearances in Low A (2021): 10.1 IP 23 Ks 4 BBs 6 Hs 1 ER
Currently at High A: 12 Games 18 IP 31 Ks 9 BBs 9 Hs 3 ER 1 HR
D2080: How are you enjoying your time in High A so far?
Gibbens: It’s been great. I’ve been working real hard, I’ve been put into some tough situations and I’ve been getting some tough outs which is what you want. I’m really enjoying it.
D2080: What differences are you noticing between the competition in Low A and High A so far?
Gibbens: The hitters are a bit more choosey with their at-bats, they don’t swing at pitches outside of the zone as much. You really have to buckle down and throw strikes and live on the edges of the zone.
D2080: So you’ve been making a few adjustments since reaching High A to face these hitters?
Gibbens: Yeah I’d say so, it’s still the same kind of stuff regarding pitching but definitely have to buckle down and hit my spots. Can’t throw pitches outside of the zone and expect them to swing.
D2080: Speaking on the development in High A, what are the differences between what the coaches in Low A wanted you to focus on as opposed to your High A coaches?
Gibbens: A lot of it is just getting your innings in and your development. In Low A I was one of the younger guys, we would get thrown in when it was our time to pitch and if you had a certain number of days off you’d know you would get going in there. Down in Low A, there’s not necessarily a role, like a closer or anything like that, it’s just getting in there and getting outs and developing. I’d say the coaches in High A want you to focus more on the whole baseball side of pitching, making sure you’re getting outs, making sure you’re getting ahead of the count. In Low A it’s really just throwing you in there and getting you as many innings as possible while you pick things up on your own.
D2080: You’ve been putting up video game numbers with your strikeouts in your time with the Dodgers so far, do you feel like you’re really far ahead of the competition you’re facing right now?
Gibbens: I wouldn’t say really far ahead, there are definitely some major hitters in this league for sure. As you go up the levels you find more consistency across the lineups, there are definitely some really good hitters here that will go on to be big-league hitters eventually. At this level the 7-8-9 hitters might not be as good as the 2-3-4 but really it’s just pitching your strengths. You find baseball players who do have a lot of power and talent but I just try to focus on my strengths.
D2080: Are you feeling a bit of shock seeing yourself go from pitching with the Melbourne Aces in another country last year to rising through the ranks with the Dodgers in 2021?
Gibbens: Not really shocked but I’m definitely excited and a little proud of where I’ve gotten to at the moment. Especially when coming from playing in the Australian League and having just 15-18 innings of work and not really playing too much in college unlike some of the guys here. I’m just focusing on continuing to do well, that’s the main thing I’m thinking about.
D2080: With the way you’re progressing in terms of development do you see yourself trending towards a closer role?
Gibbens: Yeah I’d say so. I do enjoy it, pitching in the 8th or 9th inning when the game is on the line. It’s really fun, you do have a little bit more “pressure” but depending on who you are the pressure just makes you focus a little bit more. Once you do get out of it and you’re successful it makes you feel really good. On the other side of things, if you aren’t doing too well there are lower lows but just having the confidence in you to go out there and pitch in a game when the game is on the line is exciting.
D2080: We’re all dying to know this over here; what is the secret to the strikeout success you’re having?
Gibbens: There are certain factors and characteristics with the pitches I throw that make them difficult to hit. I’ve thrown to pretty good hitters on my team and they find it uncomfortable. It’s mostly just making sure I keep the fastball at the top of the zone and making sure I’m giving effort into the pitches. It’s really paying off for me, having that hard fastball. The slider I’ve been working on, that’s been really good too when I’m keeping it under the zone. Really playing off of that kind of a tunnel up and down the zone, it’s worked out for me really well. I’ve got really good extension on my fastball because I’m tall so it’s a bit harder to see out of the hand for hitters.
D2080: It’s great to see you come so far in such a short amount of time. Where do you see yourself trending in terms of development by the end of the season?
Gibbens: That’s a good question. I don’t know what the future holds. I always had a goal coming into pro-ball to eventually make it to at least a Double-A standard but it will be what it will be. I’m just keeping my head down and focusing on what I’m doing now and things will pay off if I keep going the way I am.
Cameron Gibbens is definitely far ahead of just being good enough for Double-A. As it stands Gibbens could probably skip a level or two, maybe even get a call straight to the Majors without putting him in over his head. Of course, it’s a long journey to the Majors and you don’t want to rush anything, but when you perform as phenomenally as Gibbens has the road gets a lot shorter and the longer he keeps this up the shorter that road will get. Before you know he’ll be at the end of that road facing with his name in the big lights at Dodgers Stadium. I have no doubt in my mind that the Dodgers brass knows exactly what they’re doing with Gibbens, they know exactly what kind of gem they have on their hands and it seems sooner than later the Thunder from Down Under will be bringing the electricity to Los Angeles.