If you were to do a search right now on a couple of the largest online baseball card stores, COMC.com and sportlots.com, for “Adam Cimber” you’d find nothing. He’s been included in applicable minor league team sets throughout his career, but the 27-year-old righty has never had a baseball card produced by Topps or Panini, despite their robust minor league offerings. Compare that to a guy like Scott Heard who never played above Class-A Advanced yet has 3 pages of results on COMC, most of which are from Major League Baseball card sets. What I’m getting at is Adam Cimber has been way under the radar for years. Even I ranked him all the way down at #47 on my 2018 Padres Top 50 Prospects knowing those numbers and having seem him pitch. It’s hard to understand why. Throughout his 5 season minor league career he’s only posted a season ERA above 3.00 twice (3.05 and 3.77) and he reached Triple-A in just his third minor league season.
Cimber was a non-roster invitee coming into Spring Training and had an outside shot to make the team. “Outside shot” seemed generous due to the fact that his brilliant 2017 numbers didn’t lead the Padres to take a look at him in September. But his spring performance couldn’t be denied. Adam pitched 9 innings over 10 appearances, striking out nine, walking one, and allowing zero runs and it was just reported by San Diego beat writers, Kevin Acee and AJ Cassavell, that Cimber made the opening day roster and will be starting the season in the big leagues with the Padres. Prior to the announcement I asked Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors his thoughts on Cimber’s chances to make the team, given how he looked in Spring Training, but weighed with the fact that he doesn’t have prospect hype. Todd’s reply shed a lot of light on the thought process of a front office and appears prescient today. “
Cimber’s spring ten-game stretch with zero runs allowed is longer than any stretch he had last season, though he did have two eight game stretches where he allowed no runs while throwing more innings than he did in his Spring Training streak. One was over the course of 11.2 innings in Triple-A and the other was 10.1 innings in Double-A.
Cimber brings with him a funky sidearm delivery that is especially difficult for right-handed hitters, but effective against lefties as well. In a 2016 interview, he told Marcus Pond of RO Baseball that he developed his sidearm delivery when we was 14-years-old as a way to “do something different” that would increase his chances to make his high school baseball team. The delivery carried him through college and enabled him to be drafted in the 9th round in 2013. After that Adam rose relatively quickly to Triple-A, but in terms of upward trajectory he stalled. 2015-2017 were all spent bouncing back between El Paso and San Antonio. Despite his trajectory stalling, his effectiveness never faltered. For fans lucky enough to watch him regularly in El Paso last season it was evident that he would be a viable option at the big league level.
As far as fantasy goes, if you need a reliever who is capable of averaging nearly a strikeout an inning and a walk every nine innings then Cimber could be your man. Those numbers are likely a little optimistic given the grind of facing major league hitting day in and day out and given the fact that we don’t know how the Padres will use him. The fact that those numbers are possible says a lot about Cimber’s fantasy ceiling.
Article featured image of Adam Cimber – courtesy mlb.com