ST. LOUIS -- Seven months after making his Major League debut and ahead of a Spring Training in which he'll compete for a rotation spot, lefty Austin Gomber joined three other members of the Cardinals' organization at Major League Baseball's Rookie Career Development Program last week.
Gomber, right-hander Giovanny Gallegos, left-hander Genesis Cabrera, and outfielder Justin Williams were among the 107 prospects to gather in Miami for an annual seminar designed to prepare future big leaguers for what's ahead. Players sit through sessions on topics such dealing with the media, how to handle situations in the clubhouse, inclusion, financial planning and drugs in baseball, while also meeting with former Major League players for more individualized discussions.
While most of the participants have yet to ascend to the Majors, Gomber, who pitched in 29 games for the Cardinals last season, entered the event with a unique perspective.
"I was fortunate to be up for a good portion of last year, so I kind of know what they're talking about or kind of know coming in what I'm looking to get out of the program," Gomber said. "So I think it's a little easier to relate to if you've had the opportunity to be out there."
Gomber will lean on the lessons learned from his first taste of the Majors as he reports to camp next month eyeing a spot on the Cardinals' Opening Day roster. One of approximately 10 candidates competing for a rotation job, Gomber will also be considered as another lefty option out of the bullpen.
He made 18 relief appearances last year in addition to his 11 starts, finishing with a 4.44 ERA and 1.51 WHIP. Gomber was one of 12 players age 24 or younger to appear for the Cardinals in 2018.
"To be able to go up there and be in the middle of a playoff race as a bunch of young guys was more than we hoped for," Gomber said.
The other players representing the Cardinals at the RCDP were acquired at the non-waiver Trade Deadline last July. The three -- Williams (No. 8), Cabrera (No. 13) and Gallegos (No. 23) -- also rank on the Cardinals' top 30 prospect list, as compiled by MLB Pipeline.
All four of the Cardinals who participated in this program a year ago -- Jack Flaherty, Jordan Hicks, Tyler O'Neill and Adolis Garcia -- went on to make their MLB debuts in 2018.
"Coming up through the system, when I was in A ball and Double-A, it was very clear to me and other players that the Cardinals are an organization that always promote the most deserving guy," Gomber said. "When you play for the Cardinals, you know if you go out there and you take care of your business and you perform, you're eventually going to get the opportunity."