Thursday, March 28, 2013

Prospect Countdown: #4 John Lamb

4. John Lamb Left Handed Pitcher

Age: 22
Position: LHP
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 200
B/T: L/L
Acquired: Drafted in the 5th Round of the 2008 Amateur Draft
From: La Palma, CA

Paden Bennett (13):  John Lamb has been one of my favorite prospects for awhile now.  When he had to have Tommy John Surgery to repair his UCL I was crushed.  Lamb was moving through the system quick, and he seemed to have the personality to be that top of the rotation starter with his tattoo sleeves and his natural swagger.  I still think Lamb can become a starter in a major league rotation for sure, although I don't know if he can be an ace anymore.  I need to see the velocity get back up into the 93-96 range or at least 90-94.  If he can get his velocity back up to those range of speeds he has the stuff to become a top of the rotation starter.

Joe Cox (4)John Lamb has been a prospect for a long time, and certainly does not deserve to be the fourth ranked prospect unless he can successfully come back from the Tommy John Surgery that sidelined him for much of 2011 and 2012.   A big reason his Royal Revival 2013 prospect ranking is so positive is because of me, as I still believe in the 22 year old lefty coming in to this season.

Lamb was added to the 40 man roster in November so the Royals could prevent losing him in the Rule 5 draft, and the hope is that he will regain some of his stuff that did not show up in his short stint last season.  His fastball was quite a bit slower being mostly in the high 80’s and low 90’s, but that is to be expected for a player coming back from TJS.  In 2013 it is expected that Lamb will begin the season in AA and Royals fans will be rooting for the once sure thing prospect.  If we see Lamb find his fastball in 2013, he should be ready to fight for a rotation spot in 2014.

Damion Mandalas (7): Entering 2010, Jarrod Parker was ranked by Baseball America as the #36 prospect in all of baseball. As a 20 year old in the season before he split time between High-A and Double-A and posted an ERA of 3.14 over 97 innings. Parker then missed all of 2010 due to Tommy John surgery on the UCL of his right elbow. The following offseason, Parker actually was bumped up the Baseball America rankings and came in at #33.

Entering 2011, John Lamb was ranked by Baseball America as the #18 prospect in all of baseball. As a 19 year old in the season before, he split time Low-A, High-A, and Double-A and posted an ERA of 2.38 of 147.2 innings. After 8 starts, Lamb then missed the remainder of 2011 due to Tommy John surgery on the UCL of his left elbow. The following offseason, Lamb disappeared entirely from Baseball America's top 100 prospect list.

I've found Lamb's drop in prospect status to be quite incredible. Of course, due to the timing of his Tommy John surgery and because of a setback in the rehab process over the last two seasons, the former fifth round pick has thrown just 64 innings. I can see why Lamb would have fallen off the list by now, but given the quickness in which his disappearing act occurred, I have to think many are underrated Lamb.

The big concern for Lamb right now is his velocity. If the velo can get back to 93-96, the upside is still there for him to one day perch at the top of a rotation. If the velocity only returns to 88-92, he could likely still carve out a career as a strong midrotation starter. However, if the velocity drops all the way to the 83-87 range, the hope of Lamb in future Royals rotations takes a huge hit.

In his last Spring Training start Lamb was said to have been working consistently at 90-91, the highest since 2010. Lamb should open the season in Northwest Arkansas. I'll do my best to give out some reports on how the velocity is returning. Lamb was added to the 40-man roster the summer, so if the stuff is back he should rise quick.

Dan Ware (7):  Along with Joe, I still have hope for John Lamb on making a strong comeback from TJ that sidelined him for most of the past 2 seasons.  John has been one of my favorite prospects since he was drafted in 2008.  Back in 2010, it was a bittersweet season for Lamb, as he dominated in Wilmington as a 19 year old, going 6-3 with 1.45 era.  Once he got the call to go to Arkansas, he experienced the jump to Double-A pretty roughly.  He put the 2010 campaign behind him and had a good comeback going into 2011 with a 3.09 era in just 35 IP before going under the knife.

As of right now, Lamb has no pressing issues.  Back to full health, yet velocity still hasn't returned to where it once was around (91-95), which was obviously expected, but isn't a concern to the Royals (Link).  Last Wednesday, the 20th, I read a tweet saying Lamb was sitting around 86-88, topping out at 89 mph, while his looping curve was around 66-68 mph.  Mechanics looked fine, just didn't have arm speed right now.  I think Lamb still has the ability to make the rotation next year, even if he doesn't get his full velocity back.  He'll definitely receive a warm welcome for his first start back with the Naturals.  

Total Points: 93

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