For a quick summary of each minor leagues leader boards, Rotoworld’s (Circling the Bases Blog) Matthew Pouliot complied the AAA OPS leaders, AAA ERA leaders, and Eastern League OPS and ERA leaders(AA). Not all of the names you’ll recognize, some you will because I wrote about them (Carlos Santana), others you will because they are quad-A players (Chris Shelton, John Bowker), and many notable players are not on the lists because they didn’t amass enough innings or at-bats to qualify (Tommy Hanson, Madison Bumgarner). Also, over at FanGraphs’ Mark Hulet wrote about our favorite Cuban Dayan Viciedo, who I mentioned over three months ago. Hopefully you enjoys these links, otherwise I just feel like a tool for throwing them at you.
Two Dodger pitchers in two weeks? Yes, I am sorry, but they have some intriguing prospects. Martin was a high school standout as a third baseman and only in his senior year did he start to pitch. He was considered a second round third baseman for the 2008 draft as a high schooler. However, for his senior year at high school, he was needed to pitch and during a game in which he pitched against some tough opponents in Georgia (Eric Hosmer, if I recall correctly) and dominated them. He went on to win the Baseball America High School Player of the Year award in 2008 and was also voted Georgia State’s Player of the Year as well. As a high school pitcher he was 11-1, had a .99 ERA with 141 strikeouts in 79 innings (disclaimer – this doesn’t include the state championship game). He didn’t pitch in the minors in 2008 because he tore his meniscus in his right knee in a post-draft workout. The Dodgers decided they wanted him pitching and not hitting. Why you may ask? Due to the fact that he has three above average pitches. His fastball runs anywhere from 91 to 96 mph, usually sitting between 92 and 94 mph; a (“plus”) tight curve that he throws from 79 to 82 mph; and a splitter. I would say that those are pretty good reasons. 2009 was his only professional year pitching and here is how he did:
2009 (A) 10.8 K/9 | 5.5 BB/9 | 100 IP | .36 HR/9 | 3.87 ERA | 1.46 WHIP | 19/27 GS/G
Other than his blinding amount of walks, those numbers aren’t too shabby. However, it is important to note that he is still a very raw pitcher (much like is). He doesn’t have the years of pitching to back up his enormous amounts of talent. He had 13 wild pitches and hit 10 batters, and walked way too many hitters to be highly effective. The strikeout rate is fabulous, he kept the ball in the park and his FIP is 3.45 while he left 67 percent of runners on base. Beyond the walk rate, the rest of his peripherals are very promising. If he can even remove a third of those walks, he could be on the radar of many fantasy players by late 2010 and definitely in 2011. He is still very young, but don’t forget this name.
Andrew Lambo | OF | Los Angeles Dodgers | DOB: 8/11/88 (21) | 6-3 | 190 lbs | Bats/Throws: Left | LAD #1 prospect according to Baseball America (2009)
Cube Ratings: Power (87) | Speed (16) | Contact (31) | Patience (51)
Yet another Dodger, but at least one with a bit more flair. Yes, flair and controversy. Many sites and other non-Baseball America sources don’t rank Lambo quite so high. Baseball Intellect ranked him the Dodgers fourth best prospect calling him, “average at best,” and question his declining patience among other notable aspects of his game. However, you look at him, and he still has tons of talent. Coming out of high school, his maturity was questioned because he had to transfer to a school 35 miles from his house due to truancy and reefer (it’s a gateway drug!). Today, most say that he has out grown his childhood and is much more mature.
Lambo, other than having an amazing last name, possesses tremendous amounts of raw power (not Ryan Howard power) and bat speed. Matter of fact, that is truly his most promising talent. Baseball America says that he runs well below average and is an average fielder at best with a quick first step to make up for his sluggish speed. He did earn a Midwest (A-level) League All-Star appearance in 2008 and in 2007 he earned the Dodgers’ Guy Willmen Award as the best first year player. Baseball America also said that if he did well at AA, he’d be up a the end of the 2010 season. Here are his numbers before I say anything more:
2007 (R) .343/.440/.482 | 181 AB | 15/5/.174 (2B/HR/ISO) | 15.6 K% | 14.4 BB% | .399 BABIP
2008 (totals) .295/.351/.482 | 508 AB | 35/18 (2B/HR) | .353 BABIP
08 (A) .288/.346/.462 | 475 AB | 33/15/.174 (2B/HR/ISO) | 23.3 K% | 8 BB% | .349 BABIP
08 (AA) .389/.421/.407 | 36 AB | 2/3/.361 (2B/HR/ISO) | 25 K% | 5.3 BB% | .458 BABIP
2009 (AA) .256/.311/.407 | 492 AB | 39/11/.150 (2B/HR/ISO) | 19.3 K% | 7.3 BB% | .298 BABIP
Career Vs LHP .317/.372/.523 | 388 AB
Career Vs RHP .270/.333/.422 | 793 AB
I don’t expect to see him up near the end of next season. A few things of significance to note. The first being the high BABIP until this year; secondly the trend of walks; and lastly, the gap power and ISO trend. Lambo’s ISO at Rookie and A ball are identical and his ISO at AA is pretty close too. However, since Rookie ball, he has seen his walk rate cut in half, his strikeouts increase slightly and, finally, a season in which his BABIP isn’t inflating his overall numbers. It will be interesting to see what next year brings and if he can claim that the 2009 is his outlier. On a couple of positive notes, he is hitting a lot of doubles and may see those turn into home runs. He also doesn’t strikeout like Mark Reynolds.
At only 21, the homer power isn’t quite there, his patience has deteriorated, and many of his early minor league numbers are highly inflated due to his BABIP. Not to be negative on his upside, but James Loney was suppose to turn his doubles into home runs too and he never did. Other than Ethier and Kemp, I cannot recall their last top power hitting prospect to actually do what they were drafted for. With that said, Lambo could be the next Loney or Ethier. He could continue to hit doubles with marginal power (Loney) or eventually hit like Ethier. Keep in mind that Ethier didn’t get his ISO up and over over .200 until last year at age 26 (and hit 20 HR) and this year he has hit 31 HR. I would expect to see Lambo start at AA again next year as he struggled quite a bit, and a mid-season promotion to AAA with a September call up.