Lambert learning from 2nd big league camp
Rockies' top pitching prospect gaining experience from working with club
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Peter Lambert was still available to the Rockies in the second round of the 2015 Draft because scouts considered his fastball velocity a bit shy of ideal. Yet by the end of last season, he had already advanced to Triple-A.
Lambert, who ranks No. 3 on MLB Pipeline's list of Rockies prospects and turns 22 on April 18, enters his second Major League camp and is part of a wave of homegrown pitchers behind the expected rotation.
When Lambert graduated from San Dimas (Calif.) High School, and signed a $1.495 million bonus, he weighed around 180 pounds and threw his fastball at 88-92 mph. At that time, he developed an advanced changeup and solid curveball. This year, he entered camp around 205 pounds, his fastball has improved to the 92-95 range and he has added a slider, though his change remains his best pitch.
”Coming into pro ball, I wasn’t an overpowering guy,” said Lambert. “For me to have success, I was going to have to be able to pitch -- locate and have good command. That was going to be my path to success.”
He quickened the pace last year when he went 8-2 with a 2.23 ERA in 15 starts at Double-A Hartford before being promoted to Albuquerque on June 30. He went 2-5 with a 5.04 ERA in 11 starts at Albuquerque, then took those lessons into the offseason.
Barring injury, the Rockies have four spots set (Kyle Freeland, German Marquez, Jon Gray and Tyler Anderson), with several experienced candidates for the other spot (Chad Bettis, Antonio Senzatela and Jeff Hoffman). Manager Bud Black is devoting some of his focus this spring to pitchers behind that group, such as Lambert and right-handers Ryan Castellani and Jesus Tinoco (although Tinoco could help the bullpen). Black finds Lambert is advanced for his age.
“The thing that impresses me about Peter is his feel to pitch for a young pitcher,” Black said. “He’s not a thrower like you see with a lot of younger players with good arms. He truly has a plan. He knows himself. He knows his stuff. That’s really, really great for a guy his age.
”The conversations with him, I really like. He’s got a really good head on his shoulders. I like the poise. I’ve seen it in Spring Training games, even in workouts, how he converses with all of us.”
The Rockies saw the some of Lambert’s best attributes surface in Triple-A, even with the poor numbers.
”Moving to Triple-A, one thing you’ve seen is Peter makes adjustments as he goes,” said Darryl Scott, a Rockies Minor League pitching co-coordinator. “The hitter would show what he needs to work on. He and I talked about the jump to Triple-A and I expect him to continue to grow from there.”
The personality of the 2019 Rockies is slightly different without the relaxed, fun-loving spirit of Carlos Gonzalez, who is unsigned, and the outgoing zaniness of Gerardo Parra, a non-roster invitee with the Giants.
Black said the personalities of position players Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon and Trevor Story, pitchers such as Freeland or Marquez, plus veterans Daniel Murphy, Ian Desmond and Chris Iannetta can set just as positive an atmosphere.
”As a spring goes, as a season starts, every team captures its own identity,” Black said. “And players change. That’s a natural occurrence across all 30 teams. With us, I’m going to sense that you’re going to see some guys that have been here a couple years take on a little more in that regard.
”It’s different personalities. But you can never ask a guy to be different, be something that they’re not.”