Alec Gamboa’s long road in baseball included missing the grade at Fresno State and having Tommy John surgery, among the factors that made him consider giving up the sport.
Instead, he can add a major milestone: He was drafted Tuesday by his favorite team, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The former Madera High School and Fresno City College pitcher went in the ninth round (281st overall).
“While I was going through rehab, it was the worst thing ever,” he said. “Mentally I was a whole different person. When you can’t throw a baseball when I’m going through rehab and my arm doesn’t feel as strong as it does, it kind of takes a toll on you. There were times I thought I would never pitch again and I was thinking about calling it quits.
“I have great family, friends and everybody pushing behind me and truly they helped me get here. I can’t thank them enough. I was so close to calling it. I’m glad I didn’t because this wouldn’t have happened. It changed me so much and it definitely humbled me.”
Gamboa was recruited to Fresno State but lost his scholarship because of poor academic performance and wound up in 2017 at Fresno City, pitching in two games before learning he needed Tommy John surgery on his left arm.
It took him nearly two seasons to make it back on the diamond, striking out three in relief of a 10-1 victory over Folsom Lake on Feb. 6 of this season.
Gamboa finished with an 8-1 record with a 1.97 ERA to earn Central Valley Conference Pitcher of the Year honors.
In his last game with the Rams, he pitched an eight-hitter with nine strikeouts in a 6-2 victory over Ohlone in the Super Regionals.
Fresno City coach Ron Scott said he is excited to see Gamboa get rewarded. “All his hard work paid off. He’s one of the top pitchers I’ve ever been around, and he was a leader on our team.”
Said Rams pitching coach ErIc Solberg: “Super happy for him. The Dodgers did their homework on him and they got a good one. I feel very close to Alec and I hope I’ve helped him get to this point of his baseball career.”
Gamboa, 22, is slated to earn slot money of $151,100, according to MLB.com. He worked out in front of scouts recently at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Dodger Stadium.
Gamboa said he’ll report to the Dodgers and will head to Arizona for minicamp in a week.
“I’ve been a Dodgers fan my entire life,” Gamboa said. “How crazy is that? As soon as I got drafted, cars were pulling up to my house and Dodgers jerseys everywhere. It’s crazy right now. It feels like a dream.”