The Dodgers, as usual, have no shortage of fascinating prospects making their way through their Minor League system. Year after year we see dynamic young stars breaking into the big league club and establish their value without much hesitation. Now that the Minor League season has finally returned after a full season hiatus we’ll once again be able to scout Dodgers stars of the future and discover the next big thing before they hit the Majors. Deep in the Dodgers system, down in Low A ball, is an intriguing pitching prospect with an already fascinating road to the Dodgers by the name of Cameron Gibbens. This unorthodox arrival compared to his surprisingly mature level of development makes him a standout prospect within a star-studded system.
Cameron Gibbens found his way to the Dodgers as an undrafted free agent out of Melbourne, Australia at the age of 24 last season. At that point, he had just 14.1 innings of professional work under his belt with 4.2 IP in 2019 and 9.2 IP in 2020, yet that was all Gibbens needed to catch the eye of the Dodgers. Gibbens 9.2 innings of work in 2020 was as standout as any 9 innings of work can get, all in all, he struck out 17 across a total of 10 games all to the tune of a 1.86 ERA. A big piece of his success is his power fastball that can ride up to 97mph. Gibbens will pound the zone consistently while offering solid alternate looks with his offspeed which sits in the low 80’s. Gibbens instinctually understands how to keep hitters uncomfortable and it shows all throughout his game, his ability to mix it up alongside his naturally deceptive delivery can apply an atmosphere of consistent pressure on hitters.
Cameron Gibbens (RHP) #45
Signed as an undrafted free agent out of Australia (2020)
Career 14.1IP (22Ks) with Melbourne Aces
D2080: Can you tell me what the process was like being scouted by the Dodgers over in Australia?
Gibbens: In Australia, it’s a bit different, everyone knows everyone so if you’re good at baseball over there people know who you are. It’s a very close-knit community and in my first year of travel ball in Australia I was a bit of a development guy, I was kind of around the clubhouse but didn’t do much playing. The second year I got a bit better, I was a little more developed and threw more strikes. I worked a couple of outings and the head coach at the time, John Deeble, was also a scout for the Dodgers. It was a pretty good relationship there, we were friends. He watched me develop through that second season and ended up putting a good word in for me with the Dodgers. From there it escalated into an offer and I decided to take it up. It changed my life.
D2080: It’s interesting to see that you came over from Australia, that’s not really a place you see a lot of undrafted free agents come out. What are the biggest differences you’ve noticed in playing baseball back home in Australia compared to here?
Gibbens: One of the biggest things is the fan base, in Australia, it’s not as popular of a sport compared to AFL (Australian Football League), cricket, and soccer which pick up the majority of sports fans. There still is a fair amount of fans for the professional league, you see a lot of fans visit on something like a Friday night on their way home from work. The fans here seem to be a lot more engaged and they really love it, it’s great to see and to get all that feedback as a player. Other than that the game is the same, the adrenaline is there when you have the fans engaged in what you’re doing.
MiLB Debut (5/4/21)
2 IP 4 Ks 0 BBs 0 Hits
Credited for the Hold
Standing at 6’8/198lbs, Gibbens offers an intimidating physical presence to back up his power pitching. Within his deceptive delivery is elements of the former three-time Top 5 Cy Young finalist Jered Weaver. His natural ability to hide the ball throughout his delivery creates a palpable pressure for hitters, especially when he’s pumping the ball in the upper 90s. That’s the main difference between Gibbens and his MLB comp in Jered Weaver, Gibbens doesn’t need to live off of location, and while he absolutely can locate his pitches he is able to rear back and really challenge hitters if need be. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gibbens put himself in a position for an MLB promotion sooner rather than later.
All in all, Gibbens is pretty advanced considering the short amount of time he’s been playing at a highly competitive level. It says a lot that the Dodgers are willing to invest a roster spot in Gibbens considering the amount of talent they have developing at all levels across their organization, especially considering his almost “self-made” development path. It says a lot that a guy can go from pitching literally a couple of decent innings with a foreign ball club to developing into an MLB hopeful in less than 15 innings of work. Personally, I think the thing that endears the Dodgers to Gibbens the most is how well developed he is in such a short amount of time, to some it might come across that he is behind schedule given his Low A debut at the age of 25, but the fact is he is perfectly on track for his age considering the strides he’s made in a career that has less than 15 innings logged in the official books.
Former Melbourne Aces Teammates with former MLB star Delmon Young (2019-2020)
D2080: How are you feeling after your 4K 2IP debut with the Quakes?
Gibbens: It’s an amazing feeling, all the preparation from Spring Training led to this point. I felt really great coming out of Spring with my last outing. I just do what I have to do and control what I can control. I was put in a bit of a tough situation with none out and runners on first and second but I knew I needed to get in the zone and get a groundball. It worked out perfectly and that made things easier from there. I’m feeling great. It helps having run support, especially later in the game when you’re trying to get a win.
D2080: It’s good to see you’re finding some success on the mound. It seems like you’re a big strikeout guy, last season [2020 with the Melbourne Aces] you had 17 Ks in 9.2 innings [1.86 ERA]. What are you doing on the mound to keep you striking out guys so consistently?
Gibbens: It’s harder to hit in the top of the zone, it’s hard-hitting a higher fastball that’s got a bit of ride. That helps me a lot. My height is a bit deceiving when it comes to hitters seeing the ball. I definitely do sometimes generate the flyball but living in the top of the zone helps with the swings and misses.
D2080: What are your most immediate goals right now with your development for this season?
Gibbens: Personally I would like to develop my offspeed a little bit more. I kinda live off my fastball at the moment so I’d like to work on developing the secondary. Once I get that worked out I can feel much more comfortable at higher levels. Well, see where I go this season, whether they move me up or down or keep me here [Low A Rancho Cucamonga]. The goal now is to keep pitching the way I pitched last night and it will all work out for the best
This kid is already beating the odds and putting himself in a position to succeed at the highest level of his industry despite being so far and away from the usual entry points. Most young athletes have a hard time getting to the Minors even with years of high school and college work scouting attention under their belt and this kid has done it as an undrafted free agent all the way out of Australia at the age of 25 with just 14.1 IP. That’s a talent that speaks to me as loudly as any of his physical skillsets. Perseverance against the odds is one of the most important skills any MLB hopeful can have in their back pocket and not only does Gibbens have that, but he also has a real good fastball too.
Although the road to the show might seem a long way from Low A Ball the truth is that everything is relative to the player in mind. Gibbens’s current developmental pace looks to move him through the Dodgers system at a decent pace. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gibbens gets MLB looks by season’s end, it just all depends on how well Gibbens develops his secondary pitches to back up his fastball. His game is already so well matured for someone with so little professional experience. He’s competing with guys who have been around the Minors for multiple seasons, there are hitters who have had hundreds of ABs in the Minors and Gibbens is putting them to work with only 14.1 innings to his name prior to 2021.
If his offspeed comes together even half as quickly as his FB has he will be well in line for MLB looks within the year. Who knows, at this rate Gibbens might be Double-A ready after 15 innings of Low-A work. Anything is possible for athletes like Cameron Gibbens.
MLB ETA: 2021