Prospect proving them wrong
Chamberlain uses Futures Game as showcase of talents
SAN FRANCISCO -- Joba Chamberlain grinned through much of his first All-Star Futures Game experience, squinting through his first looks at California sunshine while explaining how honored he felt to be here.
But Chamberlain, a 21-year-old right-hander in the Yankees' system, still carries a pretty large chip on his 6-foot-3, 230-pound frame. His presence at San Francisco's AT&T Park was just further validation, he said, for all those who doubted him.
"Everything happens for a reason, and I truly believe that," Chamberlain said. "There were a lot of people that said I couldn't do it. Keep saying I can't do it, because that's exactly what I'm going to do -- prove you wrong, day in and day out.
"I'm going to work hard. I'm not going to be outworked. I may not be the best guy out there and I may not have the best arm, but I'm going to do everything I can to get to the big leagues and show all the people who said I couldn't do it that I can do it."
A supplemental first-round pick of the Yankees in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, Chamberlain fell in the process due to a bout with right triceps tendinitis at the University of Nebraska. He said the experience has only made him stronger, teaching him the value of listening to his body while fueling his ongoing progress.
Just last year, Chamberlain recalled sitting in his living room in Lincoln, Neb., watching Royals prospect and former University of Nebraska teammate Alex Gordon take part in the Futures Game at Pittsburgh's PNC Park. A year later, Gordon is a mainstay in Kansas City's lineup and Chamberlain was able to create his own experience, allowing a run-scoring single to the Dodgers' Chin-Lung Hu in the third inning of Sunday's contest.
It was a rare blemish in a campaign that has been most impressive; Chamberlain was selected for his first All-Star experience after going 4-0 in seven starts at Class A Tampa and 3-1 with a 2.60 ERA in five starts for Double-A Trenton.
"It was very well-publicized about the things that he can do," said Tony Franklin, Chamberlain's manager at Trenton and a coach for the U.S. Team on Sunday. "Everybody talks about his fastball and he certainly displayed the ability to throw a good fastball consistently. He's done quite well commanding his pitches in the strike zone and getting ahead of hitters. He's done a good job for us."
Chamberlain -- the second-highest Native American ever selected in the Draft, behind Red Sox infield prospect Jacoby Ellsbury -- said that he has been trying to balance some of his recent honors and hype.
"You've got to start back and put it in perspective to what got you there," Chamberlain said. "It's been fun, but it's one of those things where you're on a good roll. Let's keep it going and add a couple more chapters."
The emergence has prompted general manager Brian Cashman to insist that, though his Major League roster might receive reinforcements at some point before the July 31 trade deadline, the Yankees' chips to trade do not include pitchers like Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy or Phil Hughes.
Chamberlain said that Cashman's comments, which he has made on multiple occasions as the Yankees face the prospect of their first playoff miss since 1993, have filtered back to the young right-hander.
"You've got to be honored by that, because he obviously has a lot of faith in you to be successful and contribute to the Major League team," Chamberlain said. "It's one of those things where you also have to realize that this is a business, too. He's doing everything that he can do to win. To be considered to be around to contribute to winning in the future is an unbelievable accomplishment. It's an honor."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.