The Royals sent three lefties to minor league camp on Tuesday, optioning John Lamb to Double A Northwest Arkansas and Chris Dwyer and Justin Marks to Triple A Omaha. It’s the first use of an option year for all three, as they were added to the 40 man roster this winter.
As spring training continues, starting pitchers take their turns in the rotation and start-by-start add innings. As a result, some of the players that aren’t expected to break camp in the big leagues don’t have opportunity to get into games. In minor league camp they’ll get their regular work and stretch out to be ready to start the year in their regular roles.
Lamb had made it into two games, throwing an inning apiece. He gave up five hits and a walk, but only one run. It’s been noted that his velocity is down from his pre-surgery results. The Royals say they’re keeping him from pushing it, but he’s also approaching two years since his June 2011 Tommy John procedure. All arms are different, of course, but generally, players are getting back to full strength within 12-15 months. Lamb had some speed bumps when he was about to start throwing from a mound last year, but it’s going to be a focal point until his velocity returns to pre-surgery levels (or closer to it) or he shows he’s able to be successful in the new range. Before surgery, he was hitting 91-92 mph on his fastball. This spring, he’s been in a range of 85-89 mph. Maybe all he needs is more innings to get into rhythm, as J.J. Cooper had wondered earlier.
Dwyer walked three and gave up three runs (two earned) in 1.2 innings in one spring start and hasn’t done himself any favors. He’s struggled above A ball as a minor leaguer, running into back issues, a thyroid problem and bad command. His future is probably in the bullpen.
Marks parlayed a strong Arizona Fall League season into his 40 man spot. Otherwise, he may not have been protected when the Rule 5 draft came around. In three spring games, he’s completed four innings, walking three and striking out two, but only given up one run. The Royals see him as having enough promise to be protected, but he’s behind the other pitching prospects at the moment. He made one start in Triple A last year fare well at all (1.2 IP, seven hits, nine runs allowed), but his Double A numbers were fine.
Another note: the Royals released minor league infielder Luis Piterson, according to Bob Dutton. Piterson had 1022 plate appearances in the organization, finishing last season in High A Wilmington. He has a career .279/.331/.360 line. He’ll turn 23 in June.