Sean Gamble knows pretty much about the lifestyle of major league baseball. After all, his dad, Oscar Gamble, had a nice major league career, part of which was spent in Philadelphia. Maybe it was that knowledge or just the fact that there were more choices for Sean Gamble, but whatever it was, the Phillies are fortunate that the younger Gamble put off pursuing his career for a spot on the Auburn baseball team. "It was different back when I was coming up," says Oscar Gamble, a power-hitter from the left side who caught the eyes of big league scouts out of Ramer High School, located only a few minutes from Montgomery. "I didn't have the options that Sean had with a choice of a strong SEC for college baseball or signing a pro contract." Rather than signing with the Toronto Blue Jays, who drafted Gamble in the 11th round of the 2002 Draft, Gamble went to Auburn, giving the Phillies a shot at him two years later.
For Gamble, baseball is a passion that he shares with his dad, who operates a sports agent business based out of Montgomery. Auburn Coach Steve Renfroe is thankful that Gamble decided to play for Auburn rather than signing with the Blue Jays. "We were fortunate because Sean was a kid who liked Auburn," Renfroe recalls. "He's a great kid, a bright kid who knows baseball. He has a lot of fun playing the game and has a fearless attitude. He has a lot of confidence and wants to be at the plate. You feel good because he believes in himself. It carries over to the other guys."
Gamble's first professional season was a success and the Phillies believe there is much more ahead for Sean Gamble.
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Acquired: Drafted out of Auburn University in the 6th round of the 2004 Draft.
Batting and Power: Gamble has never shown too much power. In fact, he gets himself into trouble when he tries to hit the longball. His strikeout rate is high and he'll need to cut down on his swing a little more. He has the potential to be a doubles machine.
Baserunning and Speed: Gamble has some speed, but doesn't get good, quick jumps on the basepaths. He can steal bases, but hasn't truly learned how to do it and his success rate isn't good. He is aggressive and has enough speed to take an extra base on balls that aren't hit right at somebody.
Defense: It doesn't figure that Gamble will dazzle anybody with his defense. He's adequate and will occasionally make somewhat spectacular plays because of his speed. His arm is average and he doesn't have enough power behind his throws to make good throws from deep center field. In college, Gamble played mostly in center field, but doesn't figure to stick there. His arm and the fact that the Phillies have faster, better center field prospects will likely get Gamble moved to left field.
Projection: The elder Gamble was a .265 hitter over 17 major league seasons. Any player would be fortunate to stick around that long and it's no guarantee that Sean Gamble will put up the numbers that his father did. Because he has had good teaching on game techniques from the time he was a young kid, Gamble is very much a student of the game. He is advanced beyond his years and could move along pretty quickly.
ETA: Figure on Gamble starting the season at Lakewood and consider that he may need just one season at each level. That pace would have him getting a major league audition perhaps as early as late in the 2008 season and fighting for a permanent spot the next spring. He has played in summer leagues and had a good first professional season with a wood bat, so he won't have the early adjustments that a lot of players his age experience.
Comparison: Some scouts believe that Gamble will be a step above players like Eric Valent and that he could become a Jason Michaels type player. He doesn't have quite the power potential that either of those players have, but he does have enough talent that he could fight his way into being an everyday outfielder at the major league level.