Adam Cimber knew he was destined for the bullpen.
That revelation occurred during the beginning of his college career at the University of Washington. He started a few games as a freshman, but being a side-armed pitcher, the coaching staff thought the right-hander would be more effective as a reliever. It was different than what he had grown accustomed to in high school, but Cimber accepted the responsibility and went all-out.
That destiny has led the pitcher from Portland, Ore. on an impressive run through the minor leagues.
Much of the success has come during his time with the Missions. Cimber had an impressive stint a year ago, compiling a 4-2 record with a 3.05 ERA in 56 innings. This season, he has taken his game a step farther. While earning a spot on the South squad in the Texas League All-Star game, Cimber owns a 3-2 record with a 2.12 ERA and a K:BB ratio of 24:12 over 46.2 innings.
Cimber is enjoying life as a reliever. After all, his overall demeanor makes it clear he is a bullpen kind of guy. He loves coming into a game at a moment's notice and pitching consecutive days instead of waiting between starts.
He also gets a huge adrenaline rush when entering the game in pressure situations.
"I love being out there," Cimber said. "It's quick, high intensity. When you hear that phone ring everybody in the bullpen's heart skips a beat. You have to be ready to come out there and put out a fire."
Being the Missions' setter, Cimber has a special way of preparing himself for his role. He has effective pitches to get the job done. Plus, he keeps close tabs on opposing hitters' strengths and weaknesses. However, going to the mound in the right frame of mind gets plenty of attention as well.
He's picked up pointers from Missions' pitching coach Jimmy Jones and other instructors in the Padres' organization. In addition, he's studied former major league relievers like Kent Tekulve of the Pittsburgh Pirates to find out their approach.
Through all the studying, Cimber has developed a routine that works for him.
"Obviously, I'm not going seven innings anymore like I did when I was a starter," Cimber said. "The workload is heavier. You have to be on it every single day. I try to keep out of the game as much as I can the first five innings.
"I read about Kent Tekulve on how he would sit in the clubhouse the first seven innings. He knew his role was to close the game and he didn't want to be mentally exhausted watching the first seven innings and going in to pitch.
"I am little more relaxed the first five innings. Then, I go into the clubhouse and start stretching out and getting my pre-game routine going. I get a cup of coffee. I'll rub some Icy Hot on my arm. I'll sit down, take a breather and watch the game on TV, before I do my stretching. Then, I'll go out there and try to get batters out."
The mental preparation goes beyond studying former pitchers and thinking about the job at hand.
Cimber has also read several books on the subject, including Heads Up Baseball, which was a helpful source during his younger years.
"Heads Up Baseball probably changed my life from a baseball standpoint," Cimber said. "You also learn from the process, too. The main thing is it's one pitch at a time. You throw one pitch it's over. It doesn't matter if it goes over the fence or you struck a guy out. You have to make another pitch. Being able to separate one pitch, one game, one outing and giving 100 percent on the next pitch is what matters."
Whatever Cimber is doing appears to be working.
"He is one of those guys who may be under the radar," Jones said. "But every game he does well and puts up numbers. He doesn't get a whole lot of strikeouts, but he is the kind of guy who can come in the seventh inning and get a double play or a pop up. His velocity has gone up, which makes his stuff better as far as spin. He comes in and does his job. And he does it every day."
The mental approach also helped Cimber overcome a few challenges during his quest to reach the pros. He started his career at Washington and shined on the diamond and in the classroom where he graduated in three years with a degree in history. His junior season wasn't as bright, causing him to transfer to the University of San Francisco.
While working on a Masters' degree in sports management, something magical occurred. Cimber relocated his pitching touch and turned in a solid senior campaign, which led to him being selected by the San Diego Padres in the ninth round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.
"My junior year in college I struggled and was thinking I was going to be done after that year," Cimber said. "But I transferred to San Francisco and fell in love with baseball again. I found my stride again."
Since then, Cimber's love for pitching has grown even more. And being a side-armed pitcher makes him unique. However, he learned as a 14-year-old that style was the best route to go. Through that development has come an effective slider, changeup and fastball with wicked movement.
"I was short, scrawny and didn't throw hard," Cimber said. "My dad said I had to do something different if I wanted to keep playing baseball in high school. Side-arm was a natural throw for me. I felt better doing that. I had success with it in high school and kept working to get better.
"The first year I did it, I was only throwing that way 50 percent of the time and some of the guys on the team were saying 'stop goofing around.' But it's worked for me. It's got me this far and I am going to stick with it."
The time with the Missions has been to his liking, especially when learning he had been selected for the TL All-Star game. However, he's found something extra that makes the Double-A experience stand out.
"Making the All-Star team was really special," Cimber said. "That is something I have been striving for every year in pro ball. It was cool representing San Antonio."
"The main thing is the relationships I have made. I have cool teammates and coaches. It's satisfying to be successful on the field, but it wouldn't be worth it if you weren't able to show up for work and hang out with your friends."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.