Lexington First-Hand: August 30th, 2012

Lambson on the mound for the Legends (photo: Clinton Riddle)

Today, I'm writing about one of my favorite players in the game, anywhere: Legends LHP Mitchell Lambson. This is a kid who loves the game, and that alone is enough to make me follow a player's career. So many others don't really seem to be fans of the very game they're playing at a professional level, and that frankly confounds me. This is not the case with Lambson. Here's a little bit o' info on the up-and-coming lefty.

Mitchell Adam Lambson

Bats: Left, Throws: Left
Height: 6' 1", Weight: 198 lb.

Born: July 20, 1990 in Tualatin, Oregon, US (Age 22)

Drafted by the Houston Astros in the 19th round of the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft from Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ).

Minor League Service Time (01/2012): 0 years

Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BK WP BF WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2011 20 Tri-City NYPL A- HOU 2 6 .250 4.33 22 0 10 0 0 2 35.1 33 19 17 4 8 0 39 2 1 2 149 1.160 8.4 1.0 2.0 9.9 4.88
2012 21 2 Teams 2 Lgs A-Rk HOU 3 1 .750 2.22 22 0 10 0 0 1 44.2 33 12 11 2 9 0 53 2 0 2 179 0.940 6.6 0.4 1.8 10.7 5.89
2012 21 Greeneville APPY Rk HOU 1 0 1.000 0.00 4 0 2 0 0 1 9.2 4 0 0 0 0 0 12 0 0 0 34 0.414 3.7 0.0 0.0 11.2
2012 21 Lexington SALL A HOU 2 1 .667 2.83 18 0 8 0 0 0 35.0 29 12 11 2 9 0 41 2 0 2 145 1.086 7.5 0.5 2.3 10.5 4.56
2 Seasons 5 7 .417 3.15 44 0 20 0 0 3 80.0 66 31 28 6 17 0 92 4 1 4 328 1.038 7.4 0.7 1.9 10.4 5.41

(source: Baseball-Reference.com)

Overview: This is a young pitcher I've been following since March of this year, when I first saw him throwing a pen session in Spring Training. He loves the game and it shows; it never seems to be like 'work' to him, and that's one of the things that makes him stand out, to me. As you'll see, however, there's much more to this sleeper prospect than many people may know.

Strengths: To begin with, Lambson works with the standard set of pitches: 2-seamer, change-up, curve and slider. He pitches from the stretch, gets a long stride off the mound and releases from a point somewhere around 52 feet away from the plate, when he's fully extended. He shows strong, sound mechanics, and is very consistent in his delivery and release point, and he gets a great deal of power from his hips and leg drive. His fastball ranges 88-90, with a peak around 91. He gets a bit of tail and sink on it, when it's going well. The curve is 11-5 and comes in at 73-76, though generally sits at 74. I saw one game when every curve he threw was 74 on the money every time. The real strength here is the change-up. Though the curve is a dangerous weapon for him, the change really sets him apart. It comes in around 74-76, with a lot of tail and sink, and I've seen it as slow as 72. There have been reports of a 20 MPH separation between his FB and change, and I'm inclined to believe it. This pitch is as close to a classic, early-20th century slow-ball as I've ever seen. He throws it about 30-40 percent of the time, and at times even more. He can throw it in any count, to any batter, anytime, and he generates his fair share of grounders and weak flys from it. Basically, he reminds me a lot of major league LHP Sean Marshall, and I think his ceiling is around that same neighborhood; a guy who could be a short man in frequent appearances or give you 3+ innings when needed without losing effectiveness. Using him as a lefty specialist would be a waste of his ability.

Weaknesses: There are no glaring weaknesses that I've noticed here. He does everything very well, and he's definitely got the foundation for a solid and successful career. One thing that I've seen is that with his lack of velocity, he cannot afford to miss his spots too often. On occasion his velocity will fail to touch even 90, and while it certainly helps that his change and curve keep hitters from sitting on his fastball he has to be even finer on those days. His velocity has dipped to 86 (rarely) and I see it more as a result of the rigors of everyday ballgames and adjusting to this lifestyle. I don't see it as being a long-term issue. I do, in fact, think he will probably peak around 92, velocity-wise, which could make a significant difference for his promotion chances.

He might consider more of a slide step with runners on, as well. He seems to maintain the high leg kick even with ducks on the pond, so that's another chance for improvement.

Overall: As I stated before, Mitchell loves the game. It's surprising to me, the number of baseball players who just don't seem to care much for the game. When they're off the field, they may not even give it a second thought; many players I've spoken with seem to have this attitude about what they do. Maybe it's the pressure and the fact that they've gone from playing the game as amateurs to being paid to play that affects their perspective. That's perfectly understandable, but none of that has changed this kid's feelings about and love for the game, which is something that will work very much to his advantage in the future, in my opinion. He's very personable, very professional, and very much appreciative of the opportunity he's been given. I expect him to achieve significantly more than one might usually expect from a 19th round pick.

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