Sometimes the obvious isn’t evident, but one thing that’s certain is switch-hitting phenom JC Gamble is a unique baseball player and one of the most talented athletes at his age in the country.
Gamble’s talents at shortstop and second base were on full display against some of the best high school baseball players and future MLB draft picks, during the MLB Breakthrough Series, held this past summer at Dodgertown in Vero Beach Florida
Established in 2008 by both the MLB and USA Baseball, the Breakthrough Series is a pipeline for Black players to showcase their talents to collegiate coaches and MLB scouts and help diversify the game. Gamble has been a top performer in this program since the age of 12.
According to USA Baseball, the program helps develop players on and off the field through seminars, mentorship, gameplay, scout evaluations, video coverage and the highest level of instruction. Another key thing about this series is that all costs are covered by USA Baseball. With baseball becoming more of a pay-to-play sport, this program tries to help change that narrative.
“For those young players to get that type of instruction, to have the ability to ask questions…it just gives them a leg up on the competition and that’s what we’re trying to do: give these kids the opportunity to succeed and be the best player they can be…and be the best person they can be,” said Tony Reagins, MLB’s Chief Baseball Development Officer, about the series back in 2022.
MLB Breakthrough Series
JC Gamble was one of over 50 players (2024-25 graduates) invited to showcase his elite talent and learn from former MLB players during the four-day program from June 8-11, hosting the best Black baseball talent throughout the country, as MLB continues to dedicate resources to locating and developing future MLBbros.
In addition to the future stars of tomorrow, the second-generation ball players in attendance ran deep. From Jayden Fielder, son of MLBbro legend Prince Fielder and grandson of slugger Cecil Fielder, to Adrian Beltre Jr., the son of future Hall of Fame third baseman Adrian Beltre, to Noah Sheffield, son of MLBbro Gary Sheffield. Jayden Stroman, the brother of Chicago Cubs ace Marcus has also attended the program as well as most of the African-American players drafted in the first round of the MLB Draft over the past five years.
Gamble, a 5-foot-8, 166-pound gifted baller with plus speed (6.7 60-yard dash) and quick hands (94 exit velocity according to his Best of the US Showcase numbers in August) has been doing exceptional things on the baseball field since the age of 5, a few years after his Dad introduced him to the game and started cultivating him for his journey.
It’s his versatility that immediately stands out, with his million-dollar smile being a nice added sweetener to his package.
Gamble can play any of the eight non-pitching positions on the field. He’s also a legit switch-hitter. There are many players who claim to be switch-hitters, but Gamble actually stays true to his ability to attack pitchers from both sides of the plate with equal success. Those tools combined with a mature eye makes him a player who is on base with regularity, one way or another.
Gamble, a former student at Bo Porter Baseball Academy in Rosharon, Texas and ranked as a Top 10 Future MLB Prospect at the program while there, has played all over the country and even spent a few weeks in the Dominican Republic at age 13, exploring the country’s baseball culture, while being chaperoned by Power 5 college coaches.
Porter, a former MLB manager for the Houston Astros, former front office exec and current MLB Network analyst, has worn many hats in his career and is a respected evaluator of talent. In addition to a scholarship to his academy in 2022, Porter has offered guidance to Gamble throughout his journey.
“As Director of Player Development for the MLBPA, I evaluated J.C. to be a notch above his counterparts. I could see that there was something compelling about this student-athlete something that went beyond his baseball skills. He was “coachable,” but more importantly, he was “teachable.” In fact, as I worked with J.C. that week, I became more intrigued once I discovered that he was an honor roll student as well. J. C. is a great example of a kid who listened, learned and applied lesson. J.C. and I have developed a mentor to mentee relationship, and I believe he’s one of the most amiable young men I know. I would describe him as a leader who is respectful, inclusive, open to learning, grateful for opportunities, and transparent in his lifestyle. I would fully endorse and support any college, university or organization that add a student-athlete the caliber of J.C. Gamble to their program because I know the value he will bring to that college, university or organization.”
His Dad says it was important to get JC that experience to see how his game measures against kids from other parts of the world, also as an important phase in JC’s maturation process. While some people label baseball boring, particularly in urban pockets of the country, when Gamble is on the field, “Mr. Electricity” would be a better description.
Gamble is currently ranked in the Top 10 players at his position in New York State and Top 500 in the country (and rising) according to Perfect Game.
There are other players who are ranked higher and come with more hype, but watching this kid make a diving play at shortstop or an over the shoulder catch and then throw to double up an unsuspecting runner, it’s clear if he continues to develop, he has a chance to play the sport at the highest level.
Great Baseball Mind: The Future Is Bright
A career as a front office executive position is also very attainable for Gamble once he decides to hang up his cleats, as he’s been an astute student of the game since his days in kindergarten, where he would often discuss statistics and baseball history with his Dad JR, who has covered the MLB as a reporter since 1996.
JC has a clutch gene and profound grasp of the game’s nuances that is evident.
Part of being an elite athlete and successful person in life is being able to adjust to challenging circumstances. JC has proved that. A stress reaction injury slowed his progress just as he prepared for his first Spring season at Bo Porter Academy and he was forced to return home for physical therapy, while missing his junior Spring season at school.
While at the academy, Gamble played the middle infield with precision, intelligence and a rare athleticism. His ability to track balls in the hole is probably on par with any infielder in the country, as is his quickness to the ball.
Resilience In The Face Of Challenges
Upon returning to New York City, JC found out that the school board would not respect his reclass to 2025. Gamble says their reasoning is that he’s too academically advanced with his credits and under NY rules, your clock is ticking once you enter high school, so while his age isn’t a problem, he has too many credits to be acknowledged as a junior.
So, whereas Gamble should be enjoying his junior season and preparing for senior recruitment, he was forced to jump to his senior year after missing his Spring junior season nursing his first injury, which definitely threw a wrench in things. That’s after dealing with the stress of a COVID pandemic that confined him to remote learning and a quarantine that severely limited his baseball activities as a freshman. In addition to having to take the SAT a year earlier than expected, Gamble’s recruiting process just got cut in half as well.
Groomed For Success
The 2024 graduate is just entering his senior season in high school and according to several scouts, including Brewers scout Chip Lawrence, his journey to the Big Leagues “may take a bit longer” because he doesn’t possess an imposing physical frame, as he’s still developing at 17, but his baseball IQ, natural athleticism, speed, gap-to-gap power, bat skills and defensive ability is quite a package.
Gamble has been a product of MLB’s development program since the age of 12, attending the exclusive, invite-only Hank Aaron Invitational four times, and with the help of coaches of have done it on the Major League level, he’s improved and matured every season.
JC Gamble at Hank Aaron Invitational after winning Gold Glove at age 12 in Vero Beach, Florida. (Photo: Candice Shaw)
Del Matthews, MLB Vice President of Baseball Development, has known JC since middle school and speaks glowingly of him in this passage from a recommendation letter that Matthews wrote.
“JC is an intelligent, thoughtful, principled and determined young man. I have observed him grow not only in stature, but also more importantly in character and as a leader. JC does not hesitate to express his opinion amongst his peers and will stand up for what he believes is the right thing to do.
While JC loves to participate in multiple sports, I have had the pleasure to evaluate his skills on the baseball field. He is quite the student of the game demonstrating an infectious love and passion on the field and through detailed conversations with coaches and staff. JC possess a high level of energy that is contagious and engaging to teammates. He loves to hustle and takes a great deal of pride in his approach at various positions he’s capable of playing. He’s developed the ability to switch hit and as he continues to gain strength, will no doubt make an outstanding collegiate student-athlete.”
So it’s clear that Gamble has attributes that translate to being a general on the field. What your teammates say about you is also very important when assessing a player’s potential impact.
“JC has always been one of the best players and the funniest players in the dugout,” said Gamble’s former high school and travel ball teammate Jayden Blalack, a highly-touted recruit out of Texas. “He’s always smiling regardless of the score, but most of all he’s calm, kind and always encouraging his teammates.”
Gamble clearly stood out at the 2023 Breakthrough Series, as he’s begun drawing interest from D-1 colleges and MLB scouts. He’s still uncommitted, which is actually a blessing for schools still looking to add potential starters to their recruiting class.
In addition to his baseball prowess, he’s very tough and dynamic on the football field with elite “to ball” skills having scored 11 TD and recording five interceptions in 2021 for Newfield High School in Selden, Long Island, to go with being an honor student holding a 3.7 GPA.
If you haven’t seen JC Gamble in action, make it your business to check out this rising star and find out why his name is buzzing in renown baseball circles and why his unique style of play and combination of speed, swag, defensive wizardry and bro bombing has put him on the map.
Gamble has been described as “a combination of Rickey Henderson, Jimmy Rollins and Ozzie Smith.”
With a flair for the dramatic, the most exciting thing about this rising prospect is that he’s probably only 70-75 percent of what he will be once he graduates high school and receives the constant professional training and the “hype” that other select players from the south and west and abroad are receiving daily.
Baseball can be a very cookie cutter sport with very rigid ways of approaching the game. It’s always a joy watching the even-keeled Gamble do his thing because you never know what you will get from him in terms of electric plays – and from watching him, it’s clear his future is bright and that he’s only touched the tip of the iceberg.
JC Gamble is an example of the kind of hidden gems that MLB has devoted their resources to finding via its diversity programs. He’s a poster child for everything baseball is and should be. He represents the underdogs with elite talent who have earned all of their praise and accolades by putting in work and taking no days off.
He’s still seriously slept on by many in the baseball community and is eager to show what he can do as he moves up the ladder and competes with the best of the best.
JC Gamble (L) and MLB legend Ken Griffey Jr (R) at Hank Aaron Invitational in 2021. (Photo: MLB Develops)
The college that ends up signing this kid probably has a player with All-American potential in the fold. No cap. At the very least, they have a talented and passionate “baseball player” and scholar in their program.