ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Austin Gomber, 23, is already thinking about the future battery he and St. Louis Cardinals’ catching prospect, Carson Kelly, would make.

Last year, the left-handed pitcher was the youngest player invited to Cardinals Spring Training, and is currently St. Louis’ No. 18 prospect. And he was given the start in St. Louis’ first game of Spring Training against Florida Atlantic University – Gomber’s alma-mater.

Gomber, a fourth-round draft pick by St. Louis in 2014, says his first Spring experience last season was more of a feeling out process, this year he came in more prepared.

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“(Last year) I was fighting that battle of you know, should I be here, should I not be here?” Gomber says. “And now I feel like I belong here, and now I feel like I can be a future part of this team. And now it’s just going out there and proving to these guys that I’m ready.”

He started making his case about four months ago at his last start for the Glendale Desert Dogs of the Arizona Fall League. He threw shutout ball, allowing only two hits through six innings. The team of future stars from multiple major league organizations included three other top-20 Cardinals prospects: No. 3, outfielder Harrison Bader; No. 11, catcher Kelly; and No. 15 third baseman Paul DeJong.

Last Fall was the first time he was able to throw to the 22-year-old Kelly, who appeared in 14 major league games with St. Louis last season.

“He’s as good as the hype is,” Gomber says. “He was coming fresh off spending September with (Yadier Molina), studying the best catcher in baseball.”

Gomber may still be a step behind Kelly, after spending a majority of his season at A Palm Beach in 2016. But will get his first chance to make a statement in St. Louis’ first game of Spring Training on Saturday against the Miami Marlins.

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