After the Colorado Rockies drafted him in the second round back in June, southern California-born righty Peter Lambert had a limited but successful professional debut. Typical of a high-round high school selection, Lambert started just eight games for the rookie level Grand Junction Rockies, throwing 31⅓ innings with decent statistical results (3.45 ERA, 8.3 H/9, 3.2 BB/9, 7.5 K/9).
For his work in Grand Junction, Purple Row's staff and readers thought enough of him to collectively peg him as the Rockies' 21st-best prospect back in July, and then again as the 21st-best prospect last month. But, as Jeff Aberle noted at the time, there may be a few reasons Lambert rated so highly among our PuRPs that weren't directly a result of his (limited) professional performance.
Wanting some more information about the 6'2" right-handed pitcher ahead of spring training, I reached out this week to Chris Kusiolek, a scout who spent the fall and winter watching Lambert pitch in both game action and bullpen side sessions at the Rockies' spring training complex for offseason instructional league work.
The response Kusiolek gave me was phenomenal—detailed, intricate, interesting, and ultimately probably a very fair (good and bad) evaluation of Lambert. I intended on weaving it into a larger narrative-style piece, but quickly realized you'll get more value by seeing Kusiolek's meticulous evaluation as he gave it to me, below:
On Lambert’s build and physical projection: "Peter Lambert is a physical kid; his shoulders are fairly broad, and he’s slim through the midsection, with a strong core, powerful and athletic lower half, and long legs. He has some modest projection and development physically left in his frame with good athleticism. Not a high maintenance frame, meaning there isn't a significant amount of risk for his body to deteriorate; instead, he’s strong with a prototypical athletic canvas to nurture across his development path. He has incumbent strength to potentially endure rotation workload."
On Lambert’s mechanics: "He has a varied, strong drive that can alter timing, and a fairly quick arm. He has a closed landing with some stiffness and violence on the foot strike, and he’s very upright with a minimal collapse, or knee flexing, in the back half. That drives him, but causes him to be a little more vertical and not ease into his strike, and that can alter his arm slot and release point on occasion."
"Attributes such as a leg drive or further incorporation of the lower half can be revised through development and they commonly occur in a minor league environment. It just hinges on whether the issue is large enough to consider tweaking, and how responsive the player might be. He also has the tendency to hurry his kick and drive from the stretch with an inconsistent, frenzied pace. When I’ve seen him, he’s been visibly affected by base runners, which is another point to address as the kid develops."
On Lambert’s arm action: "Arm action is the absolute of evaluation for pitchers. Lambert has a strong arm, above average arm speed, and good torque. The arm action isn't exceptional, and it’s a little bit stiff and violent. There's some effort in there, which is perfectly fine if you have the strength and athleticism to repeat, although not tremendously so. He also has some mild recoil to decelerate the arm. What I mean by the arm action not being exceptional is that you ideally want a loose, clean, strong arm that—to put it simply from an aesthetic perspective—is paced and controlled. The arm is hurried a little bit, and that's an innate and intrinsic kinesthetic attribute; arm action is the crux and foundation of command projection, and not something that can be revised or altered through developmental assistance without completely jeopardizing the future of the arm in question."
"Other examples internally for Colorado might be Kyle Freeland or Jesus Tinoco; pitchers where the arms possess risk and are not necessarily conducive for rotation command projection, but their raw pitching acumen and strength supplements. Lambert's arm still has the strength and he's got the build you desire in a guy his age. To be clear, his arm action isn't terrible; it’s just not as smooth and fluid as you'd ideally envision. That being said, he has the athleticism and stuff in my mind to most certainly have potential projection as a #4 or #5 starter."
On Lambert’s stuff: "He features a two-seam around 90-92mph. It showed tailing action and life, though it was inconsistent in Scottsdale. Additionally, he proved unable to consistently get on top of balls and bear downhill. He has a good feel for a 74-76 mph curve ball; tight rotation with manipulated depth, and he commanded it in and out of the zone. However, he showed inconsistent arm speed and slot replication with varying extension on the pitch."
"That being said, he has mature feel on the curve ball for his age, with above average depth and potential. His changeup sat at 81-84mph with a slight, insignificant fade at times. There was some mild sinking action and depth to it, and he proved able to replicate arm speed at times and show feel for it, despite poor extension on the pitch."
On Lambert's recent past & short-term future: "You must take into account that this was his first pro instructs following his amateur career and professional debut; guys typically have their stuff depressed and are fatigued in that sort of environment. He's got the physical intangibles and stuff to develop within a rotation capacity though the floor is likely middle or low leverage relief. The attributes are there that you look for in an amateur arm, and he's got an opportunity to potentially develop for Colorado. It all depends on internal evaluation and spring performance, but I’d say he has a chance to start 2016 at a full-season level, and if not he can work through it in extended spring training; obviously, there are a lot of factors there that I'm not privy to regarding that."
★ ★ ★
Thanks to Chris for the detail and insight on Lambert; if you found his reports on the righty interesting and worthwhile, you're in luck — on Thursday, we'll publish his observations about Raimel Tapia, and periodically bring you more of his analysis as he continues to evaluate Rockies prospects through spring training and the summer.