17/04/2024

Cameron Gibbens suiting up for the LA Dodgers Low-A affilaite, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Photo: Berwick City Cougars/Instagram)

Cameron Gibbens has been assigned to the LA Dodgers Low-A affiliate, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in his first season of Minor League Baseball.

The persistence from Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Cameron Gibbens since the 2020 Minor League Baseball season was called off has paid off big time. The right-handed pitcher has been assigned to the organisation’s Low-A affiliate, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, for the upcoming season.

The Quakes will this year compete in the new Low-A West league after Major League Baseball’s reshuffle ahead of the Minor League season – moving teams around and cutting roughly 40 affiliates. The Dodgers didn’t feel the full brunt of the cuts, only having their Advanced Rookie affiliation with the Ogden Raptors ended.

Even though it’s his first year in the system, everything that Gibbens has worked for has culminated in being assigned to a team he’s excited to be a part of.

“It was an amazing feeling, reaching an affiliate, getting out of rookie ball and Spring Training,” Gibbens told The Inner Sanctum.

“Just making an affiliate is the goal and I’m just really excited to find a place in the team and show my stuff.

“What I’m most looking forward to is competing and dominating at this level and hopefully, if all things turn out right, I can move up and continue to dominate at other levels and show my stuff. It’s a really exciting feeling to be in affiliate baseball regardless.”

After the first week of Low-A matchups, Gibbens featured in two of the games for the Quakes – the Opening Day fixture and the final game of the series against Inland Empire 66ers.

In the Quakes’ Opening Day 3-2 win, Gibbens entered in the seventh inning, lasting two innings on the mound and not giving up any hits or runs while striking out four of the six batters he faced.

The Quakes final game of the series was a 5-6 loss to the 66ers. There, Gibbens came onto the mound in the sixth inning and struck out five of the six batters he faced, giving up a double, though that hit didn’t lead to a run.

Cameron Gibbens pitching for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, the LA Dodgers Low-A affiliate side. (Photo: Tomo San)

To Gibbens, this announcement confirms his beliefs that he can make it as a professional baseballer in the United States, but also the fact that what he’s done in the US offseason to get to this point was great for his development.

Staying fit and healthy and continuously working out saw Gibbens stay on top of his workouts and training. Had he not done so, he would have greatly raised his risk of injury and a long stint on the sidelines.

“It’s really important to not get injured and not set yourself back for the year just because of all the work you’re doing,” he said.

“I realise now that it makes you feel so much better, doing all the running, doing all the prep work and my arm feels better than ever just from doing that stuff alone.

“That’s definitely a big factor in professional baseball to work hard every day and I’m realising it’s just going to make me ever better and it’s going to make everyone better doing this amount of work.”

Upon learning of the 2020 Minor League Baseball season’s cancellation, Gibbens came back home and again suited up for the Melbourne Aces of the Australian Baseball League for the second year in a row.

During the 2020/21 ABL season Gibbens pitched more than he had in his previous campaign, a testament to his determination to keep performing well. This included a stint on the mound during the Championship Game that saw the Aces beat the Perth Heat to become back-to-back Claxton Shield winners.

“A lot of the working out and gym that I was doing did help with the consistency,” Gibbens said.

“That was something that I always had an issue with and I just kept pitching well and that was very consistent so they kept putting me out there which was good.”

In the Championship Game, which was brought forward by two days due to Victoria entering a five-day snap lockdown over the ABL Championship weekend, Gibbens came out of the bullpen in the seventh inning.

From there, he spent 1.2 innings on the mound and despite the Aces being up 9-1 at the point where he entered the game, he still had a role to play.

“I was actually up in the [bull]pen, getting going when the game was still tight,” Gibbens said.

“It turned from a moment when I was really locked in, trying to keep it to a 1-1 game, ready to come in with potentially bases occupied.

“I was up in the [bull]pen getting warm for a while and then we had a really good hitting inning where we put on six runs, something crazy and it just kept piling on and I was like ‘Wow, I’m just going to have to sit down here and chill out for a little bit’.

“And then, things got a little bit easier, and I thought ‘Okay, it’s still a championship game, you don’t get to pitch in this very often,’ so I zoned back in and pitched like it was a 1-1 game.”

Upon returning to the US and completing a full Minor League Spring Training, Gibbens is ready to make a start for the Quakes and continue to represent the LA Dodgers organisation, its MLB side the most recent World Series champions.

He says the professional environment at the Dodgers differs to his previous experiences, in the way of what is expected of every individual and the number of resources at their fingertips.

“From what I’ve heard, just talking to other guys in the different affiliations and guys that have come from other teams to the Dodgers, [they] have said how good of an organisation it is. It really is the best in baseball,” Gibbens said.

“The amount of gear and different facilities for working out and different equipment that we have, that we have access to if you really need is above, more than I expected.”

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Seeing the logo of the LA Dodgers posted everywhere amazes Gibbens wherever he sees it, especially as his local club in Victoria, Berwick City, in the winter season, uses the same Dodgers moniker and logo.

While he followed specific players in his youth, pitchers he looked up to, more than a specific team growing up, Gibbens says it’s still a surreal feeling being in the organisation.

“It’s really cool seeing the Dodgers logo everywhere. As a kid you dream of this kinda stuff,” he said.

“I had a few different pitchers that I would follow like Tim Lincecum who played for the (San Francisco) Giants, and Randy Johnson [from the] Arizona Diamondbacks. But I’d say definitely as a team, I do have all kids-sized jerseys of the Dodgers so it’s pretty cool to say that I’ve worked my way to here now.”

Cameron Gibbens pitching for the Berwick City Cougars of the Victorian Summer Baseball League (Photo: Berwick City Cougars/Facebook)

The comradery of the players and staff within the Los Angeles Dodgers organisation has Gibbens feeling right at home, thankful for the organisation for holding the same views and ethics as himself and being welcoming and inclusive in general.

“They (the Dodgers) pride themselves in scouting and signing guys that are not only just good baseball players but they have really good attitudes towards the sport. Towards being a human being, really,” Gibbens said.

“They like to say at the Dodgers there’s two leagues. There’s the Minor League and the Major League.

“No matter what team you’re at. It doesn’t really matter where you are, some guys, even pitchers can go from Low-A [or] High-A and go straight to the Majors if they’re good enough and they have a good enough season.”

Gibbens is looking forward to beginning his Minor League Baseball career and has already found success with the Quakes through the first week of the season, pitching in relief for the side on two occasions, just giving up one hit along with nine strikeouts in total.

“It is pretty straightforward that life in the Minor Leagues is quite simple,” Gibbens said.

“It’s hard, when you get to the field and [you’re] doing all the working out and baseball activity. I could tell just from the beginning it’s a lot about the mentality and staying healthy.

“Doing all the prep work, my arm feels better than ever just from doing that stuff alone. That’s definitely a big factor in professional baseball to work hard everyday and I’m realising it’s just going to make me ever better and it’s going to make everyone better doing this amount of work.”

The Opening Day game against the 66ers had a crowd of over 2,250 people attend, which Gibbens reveals can really help the ambiance of the ballgame. He says that no matter the situation or which team you play for, even if some state laws will differ in crowd capacity allowance, having fans creates a great atmosphere.

“It is really important [to have the crowd there],” he said.

“I definitely think having more people in the stands really pumps you up, as a pitcher at least to try and really knuckle down and get that hitter out.

“If you’re in the home stand especially, they’re really behind you. Even if you’re in an away team and they’re getting into you, telling you on the sidelines that you’re crap, it still does pump you up. It makes you focus that little bit more.”

The 2021 Minor League Baseball season will consist of 120 games per team.

After having completed an away series against Inland Empire 66ers, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes are 3-2 for the season and will play their first home series at LoanMart Field in Rancho Cucamonga, California beginning Tuesday, May 11 at 6:30PM PDT.

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