Organizations have to strike a balance when it comes to the handling of their prospects in a season that is focused on building for the future. So if a young starting pitcher like Peter Lambert is taking some lumps at the big league level, does it help or hurt his development?
Luke Zahlmann argues here in no uncertain terms that the Rockies have blown it with their handling of Lambert this season. In tracing the course of Lambert’s season and where some of his statistics have ended up, Zahlmann argues that the Rockies should have demoted him earlier in the summer rather than watching him struggle in the big leagues. Since they didn’t go that route, Zahlmann thinks the Rockies should stay away from using Lambert for the rest of the season.
Maybe it will be true that the Rockies did permanent damage to Lambert’s development this season. However, I don’t think that’s any more likely than a scenario where Lambert benefits from this season and is ready to manage the emotions of the big leagues and ready to adjust to big league hitters thanks to this “baptism by fire.”
I’m not persuaded that the case of Eddie Butler, cited here, means anything for Lambert, and I still think he’s had enough moments where it looks like he has the goods. Hopefully Lambert can build some momentum the rest of this season and be ready for the grind in the Rockies rotation next season.
Speaking of the development of young pitchers, what is one of the key early indicators for success? The ability to miss bats. If a pitcher flashes that ability it makes everyone feel better about his long-term prospects.
So where does that leave Senzatela who, if you couldn’t tell from that headline, isn’t missing any bats right now? As Nick Groke notes in this piece, Senzatela is literally dead last in the major leagues in swinging strike rate at 6.6 percent. For his part, Senzatela blames part of his struggles on “getting unlucky.” I’m inclined to think that when you’re 108th out of 108 pitchers in a category, it’s not just about luck.
Bud Black believes that big league hitters have adjusted to Senzatela. If that’s the case, we need to see Senzatela adjust back in a hurry. Black believes Senzatela needs to “learn to spin a pitch,” which could mean secondary stuff or it could mean more action on his fastball.
The Rockies could sure use Senzatela as a back-of-the-rotation or depth option, a spot where he seemed like something of a luxury entering this season. Groke mentions the possibility of moving Senzatela to the bullpen where high velocity can play up more. That doesn’t feel like the answer to me for a guy who is so hittable, even if he can throw it hard.
I think he’ll need to show he can navigate life as a starter or long-reliever who pitches to a lot of contact and calls Coors Field home. As we all know, that’s a tough life for a pitcher.
In this rundown, Eric Longenhagen provides some insight on Jeff Hoffman and Josh Fuentes. He says that this probably won’t be enough time for the Rockies to “learn anything concrete” about Hoffman, but I would say that in longer big league looks they haven’t learned much either.
Hoffman continues to be an enigma, and I say we should hope for any positive signs and run with them with hopes he can turn things around in the future. Longenhagen believes Fuentes profiles as a solid role player. It would be great to see him handle that role, as it is something the Rockies are often lacking.
This is an interesting look at how catchers have to prioritize safety these days. Tony Wolters is quoted and discusses how his concerns about safety go beyond baseball to his livelihood. Matthew Gutierrez also provides some information on current efforts to gather data in this area, which will hopefully allow catchers to have good information moving forward.
On the farm
Once again it was only the Grand Junction Rockies in action in the minor league system. Bladimir Restituyo (PuRP no. 27) had two hits and an RBI, and Brenton Doyle (PuRP no. 30) had three hits and a walk in the losing effort.