Lakeland's Gibson records first pro cycle

Detroit outfielder collects career-high five hits, drives in four

Cam Gibson raised his Florida State League average to .264 in his 27th game in the circuit. (Joshua Tjiong/MiLB.com)

By Andrew Battifarano / MiLB.com | August 8, 2017 12:11 AM ET

After accomplishing his historic milestone Monday, Cam Gibson soon realized he still had more business to attend to. 

"I was sitting in the outfield with my friend and roommate, [No. 29 Tigers prospectJake Robson," the Tigers outfield prospect said. "He was in center and he looked at me and said, 'Congrats, man, that was awesome. But you got one more, you basically can do whatever the heck you want, swing as hard as you want. You already hit for the cycle, you do what you want.'"

So after collecting his first cycle with a homer and a triple in the sixth inning, Gibson singled in the eighth to notch his career-high fifth hit as Class A Advanced Lakeland routed Bradenton, 13-3, on Monday at Joker Marchant Stadium.

The 2015 fifth-round pick drove in four runs and scored three times in the Florida State League's first cycle game of 2017.


Gameday box score


"It's a really special day, you don't really expect it going to the ballpark, it's just another day," Gibson said. "It's fun to be a part of. I've never had it happen before, so it's the first time and pretty special. But you've got to stay humble and we've got another game tomorrow, and that's what I'm thinking about as I sit in this [fast-food drive-thru] getting my postgame dinner."

The 23-year-old started his day with a single to right field in the second, but he was erased on a fielder's choice. Following Will Allen's RBI single in the fourth, Gibson worked the count full against Cam Vieaux. Looking to pull the ball just to advance the runner, he sent a double down the first-base line that scored Allen. 

2017 Minor League milestones

"I guess there was a pretty big pebble or rock over at first base," Gibson said. "The ball bounced right over him luckily." 

The Michigan State product admits he might have had a leg up on his opponent before the game started as Gibson and Vieaux were roommates during their tenure with the Spartans. 

"We kind of knew what he had, so you can kind of call it an unfair advantage, because I played with him for three years," Gibson said with a laugh. "We kind of had an idea of what kind of a pitcher he was before the game and what we needed to do. I knew to get my pitch, it was going to be while I was ahead in the count because he likes to go to his off-speed when he's ahead in the count. I said, 'If you get a fastball to hit, don't let it slip away.'"

So Gibson came up in the sixth and got ahead 2-0 against Vieaux to start the frame. Sitting on a fastball on the third pitch, the Michigan native deposited his homer over the right-field wall.

"I honestly didn't try my hardest to hit a home run," Gibson said. "I tried to just put a swing on a good pitch, but luckily, it went out. It was pretty crazy that it was off my college roommate." 

After Lakeland sent eight more batters to the plate and pushed across four more runs in the stanza, Gibson found himself back at the dish with a chance at history. On the seventh pitch from reliever Jordan Jess, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound outfielder ripped a pitch into right and legged out the triple. 

As he pulled into third, Gibson had to ask Flying Tigers manager Andrew Graham whether the moment had actually taken place.

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"I asked, 'That's a triple, right?'" Gibson said. "I've been playing baseball my whole life, and I stroll into third base and I looked at him and said, 'That's a triple, right?' For some reason I needed to do the double take and I really needed to get it jammed into my head that it was actually a triple.

"When I came up, I wasn't even trying to hit the triple. I wouldn't have even gotten up if it wasn't for the guys in front of me doing their jobs. We had timely hitting, guys getting hits with two outs, guys getting their pitches and doing something with it. ... When I hit it, it was kind of like put your head down and run to third no matter where it was hit." 

And with his last chance in the eighth, Gibson capped off his day with a single to center. Not only had he completed two milestones, but Gibson raised his Florida State League average from .221 to .264 by day's end. He admits making the jump from the Midwest League this year provided him with a set of challenges. 

"It's a big hop," Gibson said. "The Midwest League is great, you get to have all of your fans at all of your games. It's a good atmosphere, great players, great coaches. It's kind of the same thing here, but it's 98 degrees with 100 percent humidity. It's not only a physical change, but the talent rises. The pitchers are harder, there's more movement on pitches, guys are better hitters. It's a mental game too when you come to a league like this. My first week here I was hating it, I was playing very, very bad. You've got to try to bounce back and play your game." 


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While he's looking to improve further as the final part of the season rolls along, Gibson will soak in all the congratulatory messages and calls, including one from his father, former Major Leaguer Kirk Gibson. 

"I just talked to my family about it and the select people that shot me texts," Gibson said. "[My family] called me about it and they were really excited. Hopefully, I come back tomorrow and get a win." 

No. 20 Tigers prospect Jose Azocar collected a homer, a triple and three RBIs while Josh Lester added three knocks in Lakeland's 19-hit attack.

Andrew Battifarano is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @AndrewAtBatt. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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