Kings of Kauffman Prospect Rankings: #4 John Lamb
Who: John M. Lamb
DOB:7/10/1990, Laguna Hills, California
Weight: 195 lb
Acquired: 2008 Draft – 5th round
~ Baseball America: #4
~ Royals Review #5
~ Kevin Goldstein: #2
~ John Sickels: #6 B+
~ Royals Prospects: #5
~ 2010 Kings of Kauffman Rankings: #8
|Rk (1 season)||Rk||3.80||14||68.2||20||71||1.121||7.5||1.0||2.6||9.3||3.55|
|A (1 season)||A||1.58||8||40.0||17||43||1.075||5.8||0.4||3.8||9.7||2.53|
|AA (1 season)||AA||5.45||7||33.0||13||26||1.515||10.1||0.5||3.5||7.1||2.00|
|A+ (1 season)||A+||1.45||13||74.2||15||90||0.991||7.1||0.1||1.8||10.8||6.00|
If “The Process” works like Dayton Moore thinks it should (and baseball doesn’t end up turning to a hard slot system), the Royals 2008 Draft may turn out to be the blueprint for turning around a floundering franchise. Their first three picks – Eric Hosmer, Mike Montgomery and Johnny Giavotella – weren’t terribly revolutionary, but it’s still two high school players and a kid from a small college. Their third round pick, Tyler Sample, hasn’t panned out as the first three before him have, but in the fourth round, the Royals took Tim Melville, a potential first round talent that had signability concerns. The Royals, full of swagger, took him anyway and gave him an above-slot bonus to sign (a tactic they’ve since used to sign Chris Dwyer, Wil Myers, Brett Eibner and Jason Adam).
The risk in all of those selections would be that the players wouldn’t want even the above-slot bonuses and would leverage their position to return to school or head to college. The Royals assumed that risk and went for it anyway and their reward is the best farm system in the game.
That same risk applies to John Lamb‘s selection, but for different reasons. Lamb was a first round talent but was recovering from a broken elbow suffered in a car accident. He was able to make a full recovery and debuted last June, displaying fine command and three potential plus pitches. He settled into a fine first professional season and came into 2010 ready to keep the momentum going.
And did he ever.
Lamb cruised through A-level ball, utterly dominating the Carolina League at Wilmington. Just after his 20th birthday, he’d earned a promotion to Double A.
He struggled a bit, yet still held his own with a manageable 2.00 K/BB ratio for the Naturals. Better yet, he seemed to adjust to the higher level by the time the playoffs rolled around he made two starts, giving up two runs in the first start against Springfield (in which he only pitched two innings) but came back in Game 3 of the Texas League Championship to give up just a solo homer in 6.1 innings, striking out seven and walking one.
Lamb’s calling card is command and a plus changeup that he uses to pound the bottom of the zone. He mixes it in well and his arm action doesn’t give it away, so combining it with a fastball that sits in the low-90s, but can hit 95 if he reaches back, makes it a dangerous offering. His curveball has been developing to have a sharper break and is on it’s way to being a fine complement to the other pitches.
Mechanically, he’s sound with an easy delivery that doesn’t seem to show an injury risk. He doesn’t have to throw hard to be successful and that should help him maintain velocity late into games. Even if it doesn’t, Baseball America notes his ability to succeed on nights when his stuff isn’t at its best is another feather in his cap. Lamb loves to compete and his demeanor is well beyond his years.
Adam Foster and ProjectProspect has a more in-depth scouting report with some fantastic animated gifs to demonstrate Lamb’s delivery and curve. It’s a must-read for a Lamb fan.
Lamb’s success in 2010 landed him on MLB.com’s Top 50 prospect list at #34 and was #18 on Baseball America’s newly released top 100.
2011 should be a big season for Lamb. He struggled in Double A last year and wants to show that he’s ready to dominate that level as he has all the others before. He’s probably last on the list of the talented left-handers as far as when he’ll break into the big leagues, but last year he wasn’t expected to make such a swift rise through the system either. If he continues to pitch well with excellent command, he may force the Royals hand to move him up sooner than anybody had expected.
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