Junior pitcher Max
Gamboa tells us about the season so far, as well as giving us an inside look on
how the Draft process works for professional baseball. The Waves take on
Gonzaga in a three-game WCC series beginning Friday at Eddy D. Field Stadium.
Q: The season has gotten off to a little bit of a rough start. What do you think needs to happen for the team to right the ship?
A: I think that we as a team need to come together and play like we know we can. The pitchers have been throwing well, and the hitters have been hitting well, we just need to have both do well on the same day. I think that we are figuring it out and just correcting the little things. Once the timely hitting and pitching come around on the same game, we will be fine. With the start of conference play, we are definitely eager to do well and represent Pepperdine well.
Q: What are some of the positives that the team is looking at in order to keep morale up in the clubhouse?
A: Joe Caparis had a four-hit game on Sunday as a freshman, which was huge. He has really stepped in when he has been called upon. I think that as pitchers, we know that the hitters are going to pick us up, and I'm sure the hitters know that we are going to pick them up as well. You can't really single one specific group out. I think that that is the biggest morale booster. We all know that it is going to come around, and we are doing our best to have it happen as soon as possible.
Q: As a junior, how has your leadership role changed as opposed to years past?
A: I think this year has been different because I knew that it was time for me to step into that role of a leader. It has been cool to be able to lead some of the younger guys and be able to share my perspective on things with them. I have been through ups and downs here at Pepperdine, so I know what the guys are going through. And credit needs to go to the younger guys as well. They are super receptive to the upperclassmen and don't brush them off when the upperclassmen are trying to help. Leading by example is extremely powerful, and that is what I try to do. Especially with the pitchers. I know exactly where they are, and I think that my experience can help them develop as players.
Q: This being your junior year, the MLB Draft may be on your mind. How can you keep the games being played now separate from that?
A: I try not to think about it. I try to focus on what is going on here at Pepperdine. I know that the rest of the guys that are getting looked at, including myself, want to do the best that we can for our school. We know that everything will work out, and the chips will fall where they may and that will be that. Right now, I am focused on nothing else but trying to win a WCC championship and get to the post-season and make a run to Omaha.
Q: Were you a touted prospect in high school when it came to the MLB Draft?
A: Not really. I wasn't one of the big blue-chip guys out of high school. I am fortunate enough to get the opportunity to come here to Pepperdine and learn as much as I have. The coaches, Hirty, Coop, and especially Garza have taught me so much, as well as Rod and Strauss before them. I have learned and matured a lot both on and off the field here at Pepperdine. I am so thankful for the opportunity that I have been given. I just want to take every opportunity I can and make this school and this program proud.
Q: For those of us who don't know about the MLB Draft process, what is it like?
A: It is pretty similar to any other job, to be honest. There are obviously differences, because of the nature of the job itself. Scouts will come out to see you play to try and see your strengths and weaknesses. They want to find out ways to improve their teams, and for players that they can develop into what they want and need. There is definitely an open conversation between the scouts and the athletes themselves. The big thing to keep in mind when this process is going on is to keep playing. It is no different playing without scouts there. We are still trying to win ball games regardless of whether there are scouts in the crowd or not. And if they see something they like, it is an added bonus. We just want to try to win games.
Q: Going forward with WCC play, what can we expect from the Waves as they continue a run toward post-season play?
A: I think you can expect really good things. We know where we are struggling and we know what we need to work on. We are taking steps toward fixing problems every single day, so I think that really great things are on the horizon for Pepperdine baseball. There is a saying that has been said around the clubhouse, "We are one game away from catching fire." A truer thing hasn't been said. Once we get going, we are going to run with it until the end of the season.