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Fantasy Baseball Sleeper: Andrew Lambo

Last week we took a look at Wilmer Flores, a post-hype prospect who hit his potential in the minors long after the organizations that decide the Top 100 prospects stopped paying attention. This week, the Pirates will call up Andrew Lambo, a former Top 50 prospect in the same situation as Flores. Lambo is a long forgotten prospect who jogged everyone’s memory this year in the minors by crushing 31 home runs in 117 games.

Clint Hurdle
Clint Hurdle

Aug 1, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle (13) writes on his line-up card against the St. Louis Cardinals during the ninth inning at PNC Park. The St. Louis Cardinals won 13-0. Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Last week we took a look at Wilmer Flores, a post-hype prospect who hit his potential in the minors long after the organizations that decide the Top 100 prospects stopped paying attention. This week, the Pirates will call up Andrew Lambo, a former Top 50 prospect in the same situation as Flores. Lambo is a long forgotten prospect who jogged everyone’s memory this year in the minors by crushing 31 home runs in 117 games.

Lambo was originally drafted out of high school in the fourth-round of the 2007 draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers. In his first stint in the Gulf Coast rookie league at 18-years-old, Lambo put up a .343/.440/.519 line with five homers, 15 doubles, 32 RBI, and 38 R in 54 games.

The following season, Lambo made a real splash in Single-A. Over 131 games, Lambo built on his rookie league campaign with a .295/.351/.482 line with 18 HR, 91 RBI, 56 XBH, and 65 R. Baseball America took note and ranked him as the 49th top prospect in the league coming into 2009. Of course, if you don’t develop the following year, the top prospect people stop caring and that’s exactly what happened.

Lambo played his first full season in Double-A in 2009 and had a hard time adjusting. Despite putting up 51 XBH, Lambo saw his line slip to .256/.311/.407 with 11 HR, 61 RBI, and 70 R over 130 games. It wasn’t a terrible season but he was dropped from the Top 100 rankings and would never return.

He remained in Double-A the following season, putting up a .271/.325/.420 line with four home runs, 25 RBI, 11 2B, and 26 R over 47 games. Halfway through the season, the Dodgers traded Lambo and James McDonald to the Pirates in exchange for Octavio Dotel. How low had Lambo’s stock fallen? He was a throw-in in a trade for a reliever with a 4.28 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. Lambo continued to disappoint upon moving to the Pirates’ Double-A affiliate in Altoona, batting .272 with just two home runs and 10 RBI over 26 games.

In 2011, he began his third season in Double-A and put up a decent .274/.345/.437 line but just eight home runs, 41 RBI, 17 2B, and 35 R over 69 games. The Bucs decided that was enough to promote him to Triple-A and Lambo struggled once again. Over 60 games, Lambo put up a miserable .184/.257/.292 line with three homers, 17 RBI, 11 2B, and 19 R.

He missed most of the 2012 season with an injury and played just 35 games. I think that was the season it finally came together for him but no one noticed since he only had 125 at-bats. He put up a very good .312/.401/.504 line with five home runs, 22 RBI, and 23 R. Since the injury negated any promise he showed, he’d have to wait until this season to finally show that he is the natural power hitter the Dodgers thought he was back in 2009.

This year, he began yet another year at Double-A. This time, he wasn’t going to stay. In 58 games, Lambo put up a .291/.351/.559 line with 14 HR, 46 RBI, 27 XBH, 66 R, and six steals. He was promoted to Triple-A where he continued to pulverize the ball. In 59 games, Lambo put up a .278/.350/.593 line with 17 HR, 51 RBI, 32 XBH, and 31 R.

Like many before him, Lambo is the victim of prospect scouts’ miniscule memory span. Once you show any struggles when you are promoted, you are dismissed with the rest of the bargain bin pile. The thing with kids drafted out of high school is that many of them take much longer to develop. The powers that be would have preferred him to develop year-to-year but not everyone has the same trajectory to the Bigs.

At 25, his 31 home runs this season took many by surprise and he still has his detractors. Is he perfect? Certainly not. He’s not bad against lefties but hits righties much better. This may lower his value this year since the Bucs might choose to platoon him but he really isn’t a bad hitter versus lefties like so many power hitting left-handed batters.

He doesn’t walk much but his strikeout numbers are passable so, again, he’s not Carlos Pena. I think he has a ton of potential and his 31 homers and consistent ability to hit doubles should make for a good fit in the Pirates lineup. The real question is whether he can make an immediate impact. Rookies can be hit or miss but one has to hope that hot 31 HR, 97 RBI bat can stay aflame through the rest of the season.

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