A recurring theme in my coverage of the Altoona Curve this season has been Andrew Lambo’s success. As Tim Williams and I have both asserted, all season Lambo has been proving that he deserves a promotion. And then tonight he contributed a two-RBI single in the 4th inning, leading to this tweet:
— John T Eshleman (@2080_John) June 8, 2013
Finally tonight, following a 3-2 loss to the Binghamton Mets, Lambo was informed that he’s moving up to AAA Indianapolis.
In 220 at bats in 2012, Lambo hit .291/.351/.559, leading the team with 14 home runs, 46 RBIs, and 35 runs scored and adding 6 stolen bases. He’s also the Eastern League leader in home runs, second in RBIs, and sixth in OPS.
“[I’m] definitely excited to take on a new challenge and helping contribute anyway I can,” said Lambo.
He adds, “Baseball is a battle, and it gets tougher and tougher as you move up.”
Lambo has certainly battled in his minor league career. At one point he was considered the best prospect in the Los Angeles Dodgers system, but after a rash of injuries, Lambo has struggled to get out of AA, spending parts of six seasons at the level, while struggling in his previous 2011 AAA stint in Indianapolis.
The 24-year-old has renewed his status as a prospect with his impressive season in 2013. Most notably, he’s showing the power it takes to be a corner outfielder, something that has taken time to develop. His highest season total of home runs is 2008 when he had 18 between A and AA in the Dodgers system.
The most obvious thing that has held Lambo back was a string of injuries in recent seasons. He’s also worked on his approach.
“Last year I was injured all year, and when I came back I did some good things power-wise for a few weeks. So I wanted to translate that into this season. You’re definitely not walking up there thinking ‘I need to hit a home run.’ I think the mentality was that before, and when you start growing and realizing what’s going on, I think you have a better approach. So I tried to simplify things this off-season,” said Lambo.
Another key for Lambo has been better plate patience and being more selective at the plate, which will be a continued focus for the left-handed hitter in Indianapolis.
“Sometimes when you get locked in, you get a little chase happy. Me and [hitting coach] Ryan Long have been working on shrinking the zone up a tad bit,” adds Lambo.
At this point, it is unclear where Lambo will fit into the Indianapolis line-up, but the organization certainly would not have promoted if he didn’t figure to get ample at bats.
Despite his long tenure in AA, Lambo is still age appropriate at 24 and his success this season has put him back on the prospect map. How he figures into the Pirates plans will ultimately depend on how well he performs in AAA, and his improved all-around hitting and power is a positive sign. Lambo is an average outfielder, and a key area of development will be his ability to hit left-handed pitching, which has been his only weakness so far in 2013. Nonetheless, he’s earned his promotion.