The Phillies gave out five six-figure bonuses during the 2014-15 international signing period, with the $900,000 deal for Gamboa, thought to be one of the best shortstops on the market at the time, the largest of the lot. Gamboa has stood out defensively throughout his career and when he made some progress with the bat during his full-season debut in '17, he moved up the rankings, coming in as high as No. 11 on the '18 preseason list. Two straight years of struggling to hit, however, has sent him back down.
Gamboa’s glove is what will get him to the big leagues, and it’s largely what got him added to the 40-man roster after the 2018 season. He has a plus arm and more than enough range to play shortstop at the big league level for a very long time, using his speed and instincts to his advantage, showing the ability to make the flashy play as well as the routine ones.
What Gamboa can be at the big league level will depend on if he can figure things out at the plate. The switch-hitter does have some raw pop that has yet to show up in games and while he’s willing to draw walks, his strikeout rate has ticked upwards to much for someone with a contact-oriented approach. He’s still just 22, so there’s time for him to add more offense so he can be more than a glove-only utility type.
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 40 | Run: 60 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45
Gamboa was thought to be one of the best shortstops in the 2014-15 international signing class, ranking No. 15 overall on MLB Pipeline's Top 30 International Prospects list at the time. The Phillies signed him for $900,000 that July and have watched him shine defensively and show glimpses with the bat, though far from consistently. Despite the offensive issues, the Phillies thought enough of his toolset to add him to the 40-man roster following the 2018 season.
Though he has yet to show it for any extended period of time, Gamboa has provided flashes of being able to do everything well while playing a premium position. His defense is definitely still his calling card, and he'll show off his plus arm and above-average range at times, looking smooth and flashy at one moment, then out of sync at other times. He has average raw power from both sides of the plate but hasn't come close to tapping into it with a contact-first approach. He does have the bat speed to eventually develop into an average hitter.
Gamboa is one of the most enigmatic prospects in the system. Based on raw ability, he might be considered a top 10 prospect. Based on production, he's not there, but the organization is willing to be patient to figure out the puzzle.