by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Diamondbacks are a team in the process of rebuilding, something that was apparent given the players they sent packing leading up to the Trade Deadline. Yesterday came news of the next piece to the puzzle, as the team recalled third baseman Jake Lamb from Triple-A.
He hadn’t spent much time at Triple-A (.500, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R, 2 SB in five games), so we obviously don’t want to draw any conclusions off of those numbers. He raked during his time at Double-A, slashing .318/.399/.551 with 55 total extra base hits (35 doubles, 5 triples and 14 home runs). They are obviously highly impressive numbers, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t come with concerns.
For one thing, it’s easy to imagine the average struggling initially in the Majors. A minor league career .322 hitter, he benefited from a .387 BABIP and could struggle with strikeouts. While both marks have been consistent, let’s just look at his time at Double-A to draw from.
He posted a 22.6% strikeout rate this season, a mark that had been consistent all season long:
- April – 24.2%
- May – 20.0%
- June – 23.6%
- July – 23.0%
Considering that he’s virtually making the jump from Double-A directly to the Majors, seeing the number inflate a bit would not come as a surprise. Could the number even push 30%?
He did own a 21.1% line drive rate, well above the league average of 16.7%. That still doesn’t justify his .389 BABIP. It’s hard to imagine him maintaining that type of mark at the highest level, which is further going to hurt his average upside.
It’s not to say that we should expect him to hit .220, but something in the .250-.265 may be a more realistic expectation (and even that could ultimately prove to be on the higher side).
He has shown good power upside, with a minor league career HR/OFB of 16.7% as well as the ability to hit a slew of doubles. In 1,078 minor league PA he owns 82 doubles, 10 triples and 37 HR. Eventually the power should fully develop, but at 23-years old it’s simply not fully there yet.
That’s not to say that he can’t produce as there definitely is something there, we just need to temper our expectations. Here are a few preseason scouting reports:
John Sickels of Minor League Ball – “Limited to 64 games in High-A by injury, but hit .303/.424/.558. Yes it was the Cal League but he’s always hit well, controls the strike zone, and is a good defender. Overlooked prospect who needs more attention. Another hunch.”
Baseball America – “Lamb’s raw power began to emerge in 2013, and he offers a patient approach from the left side with the ability to go deep into counts, meaning he could hit for both solid average and power.”
There is an awful lot to like and the ability is there, long-term. There is going to be a learning curve though and, as a left-handed hitter it’s possible the Diamondbacks shelter him against southpaws early on. He has the potential to prove to be mixed league viable by the end of the year and is worth monitoring in all formats (and stashing in deeper formats).
Sources – MILB.com, Minor League Central, Minor League Ball, Baseball America
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