Tigers Prospect Profile #39: Chris Lambert

Lambert was acquired by the Tigers for Maroth

The pitcher to complete the Mike Maroth trade, Lambert was a former first round pick trying to get back on track after a down couple of seasons. Can the Tigers help Lambert turn around and make him a potential big league contributor? FREE PREMIUM CONTENT PREVIEW

Chris Lambert
Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Height: 6-1
Weight: 205
Born: 3/8/1983
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Background
Lambert was a first round selection of the St. Louis Cardinals following his 2004 collegiate season at Boston College; and joins the Tigers to complete the Mike Maroth trade. Prior to joining the BC baseball team, Lambert was a standout hockey player in New Hampshire, and started his play in the Big East as a very raw and inexperienced baseball player. As a freshman for the Eagles, Lambert notched a 9-3 record with a 2.76 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning. He was the first pitcher in league history to be named both the Pitcher of the Year and Rookie of the Year in the same season, while also becoming only the second freshman to garner Pitcher of the Year honors (Charles Nagy was the first). In addition to those lofty honors, Lambert was named to multiple All-American teams, and the All-Northeast Region 1st Team.

Chris following up his inaugural success by posting an 8-2 record in his second tour through the Big East, and garnered ABCA All-American Third Team, ABCA Northeast Region First Team, ECAC All-Star, and NCBWA District I Player of the Year. Lambert followed up his excellent sophomore season by playing for the Chatham A's in the Cape Cod League and finishing the summer with a 2.12 ERA and taking home the League's John Claffey New England Top Prospect Award. His success dipped slightly as a junior, posting only a 6-4 record and 3.04 ERA for an Eagles team that went 32-27. Despite his slight statistical downturn, Lambert was named the Big East's Co-Pitcher of the Year. He left the Eagles as the school's career leader in strikeouts and ERA.

The first round draft choice showed amazing promise for most of his first two seasons, notching a 2.58 ERA in nine starts for Peoria during his debut in the Midwest League, and a 7-1 mark with a 2.63 ERA for Palm Beach to start the 2005 season. His promotion to AA did not go smoothly, as he was knocked around to the tune of a 6.35 ERA in 18 starts for Springfield. Also during his 2005 season, he represented the St. Louis Cardinals in the annual Futures Game at All-Star weekend. A return to Springfield in 2006 garnered slightly better results, as he went 10-9 with a 5.30/1.57 line in 23 starts.

The Cardinals opted to have Lambert return to Springfield for one more try in 2007, and the results were promising with a 3.42 ERA in only five starts before he was promoted to AAA-Memphis. Working in a relief role for most of his time with Memphis, Lambert struggled to a 7.49 ERA before the trade to Detroit. His lone regular season start for the ‘Hens was spectacular, spinning six shutout innings with ten punch outs.

Scouting Report
Lambert's once explosive fastball has disappeared since joining the pro ranks. Once praised for a 92-94 mph heater with outstanding late life, his velocity had dipped to the 87-89 range at the close of last season. Through diligent work with pitching coach Dyar Miller, his velocity had crept back into the 89-91 range throughout much of his time at AAA. He struggles to locate his fastball throughout the zone, and even has frequent bouts with his ability to throw strikes in general.

His curveball and change-up are both positive pitches; working a tight overhand curve that is a solid above-average pitch. His change-up has worked as a plus pitch in the past but his command of the pitch wavered last season. When he is working with good feel of his off-speed pitches, Lambert can be a devastating pitcher.

Chris is a good athlete with a solid understanding of his defensive responsibilities on the mound. He fields his position well and moves well throughout the middle of the diamond. The largest detractor in Lambert's game is his confidence and demeanor on the mound. He has trouble maintaining a belief in his ability and will often look defeated on the mound when things are not going his way.

Despite not particularly liking the nuances of the bullpen while at Memphis, Lambert's likely future role at the Major League level is as a reliever. He has the raw stuff to become a very good bullpen option, but he must maintain a certain swagger when he steps on the mound, no matter how things are going around him.

Performance

Level

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

AVG

AA

Springfld

0-2

3.42

5

5

0

17

8

26.1

.245

AAA

Memphis

1-4

7.49

28

4

0

50

29

57.2

.319

AAA

Toledo

0-0

0.00

1

1

0

10

2

6.0

.053


Health Record
Chris has fatigued in each of his professional campaigns, and there are some questions about his ability to remain strong deep into a season. A move to the bullpen could help him remain stronger and more likely to help his team down the stretch.

The Future
Lambert will be a long shot to make Detroit from spring training, but he will have an opportunity to make a strong impression on Jim Leyland and Chuck Hernandez while in big league camp. With the questions surrounding several roles in the Detroit bullpen, Chris could get an opportunity to fill a spot at some point this season.

To start the season, Lambert looks like a lock for the Toledo rotation, where he'll work to gain command over his entire arsenal with regularity; hopefully allowing him to make that final step towards being big league ready. While he profiles better in the bullpen long term, the Tigers may continue to give him opportunities to succeed in a starting role, which should provide him necessary innings to gain polish.

Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.

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