Boston Red Sox prospect Grant Gambrell talks road to Opening Day start

Things haven't been easy for Gambrell over the last few seasons, but a strong 2023 propelled him back into the spotlight.
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Grant Gambrell began 2023 as sort of an afterthought in the Boston Red Sox system. He was a 25-year-old in High-A who hadn't pitched in a game since August 1, 2021.

After five surgeries to remove a benign tumor from his heel, Gambrell's career was in question. Even worse, his start to the 2023 season was less than favorable. But after a poor April, he started to turn things around.

Two strong outings at the start of May led to a promotion to Double-A. From there, Gambrell found his footing. What followed was four months of consistent dominance from the right-handed pitcher. He rarely went fewer than five innings and even tossed eight innings in a particularly impressive start in July.

That all led to a promotion to Triple-A late in the season. In two appearances, Gambrell allowed just two runs over 10 2/3 innings. Just one year after starting the season in High-A with a questionable-at-best future, Gambrell was the Opening Day starter for the Triple-A Worcester Red Sox.

In his season debut, Gambrell was a bit wild but effective nonetheless. The 26-year-old walked two batters and hit another over four innings of work. However, he also racked up seven strikeouts and didn't allow a run.

Boston Red Sox prospect Grant Gambrell talks about his road to Triple-A Opening Day

Q: How did it feel out there?

"I felt good. I was honored to make the Opening Day start, for sure."

Q: You had five surgeries in 2022. At some point, you were questioning what was going on in your career. Does that give you a unique perspective as you work through the minors?

"Yeah, that's kind of all on my mind now. Just making sure that I'm able to thank the people who were there for me during that tough time. I kind of use it as motivation. I kind of lost two years, and now it's up to me to make up for those years. Just blessed that I'm here now, able to play now."

Q: You started 2023 in High-A, 25 years old, with questions surrounding your career. Fast forward one year later, and you're the Opening Day starter in Triple-A. What did that mean for you?

"It meant the world. Last year, I definitely didn't want to start where I did start. Being able to end up where I ended up was really big for my career and really big for my piece of mind. Now that I was able to start Opening Day I'm just really thankful for that, that the coaches have that much faith in me. Looking behind me and seeing all these big leaguers makes my job pretty easy. Hey, that was fun."

Q: You broke through last year, especially after your promotion to Double-A when things seemed to click for you. Was there anything in particular that you attribute to that? Or was it just a case of finally being healthy?

"I think it's a little bit of a mix. Being healthy is a huge part. I was able to put my ankle out of my mind and just focus on being a pitcher, which was the first time in a long time that I was able to do that [laughs]. Being healthy is a big part of it. Then embracing who I was as a pitcher. I had to reinvent myself a little bit. I think it speaks for itself that it's been going pretty well, so just trying to stick with it."

Q: Has anyone in the organization played a role in your development?

"Going through my rehab, Chris Sale, because he was going through a rough time, too. Being able to work out with him every day and pick his brain was big for me and my career. Honestly, our pitching coach Dan DeLucia, was our rehab pitching coach during that time. He took me under his wing and said we're going to get through this together, and we ended up doing it so big thanks to them."

Q: You find yourself one step away from the Majors. Is that something that's in the back of your mind, or are you trying to ice that out?

"I can't control that at all. So I'm just taking it game by game, and if my number gets called to go up there, then it does, and I'll be extremely grateful and excited. But right now, I have to take it one day at a time."

Q: Something you want Red Sox fans to know about you?

"I love fashion and clothing. It's a little bit different in regards to that. I take pride in my appearance and going out on the mound and feeling a little bit swaggy, for sure."


Gambrell had a Gucci sling backpack over his shoulder during the interview — his eye for fashion is real.

Gambrell was one the best and most consistent pitchers in the Red Sox organization in 2023. And when he laughed after saying that it was the first time in a long time that he could put the ankle out of his mind and just focus on pitching, his relief was palpable. Without his previous medical issues taking up part of his mind space, "Gambrell the pitcher" gets to take center stage.

We're confident Red Sox Nation will love him someday.

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