Lancaster, California —— Things didn’t go according to plan for Colorado Rockies pitching prospect Peter Lambert in Game One of the California League‘s Championship Series on Tuesday night. Typically a pinpoint righty with feel for his entire arsenal and the ability to attack the corners, the Lancaster JetHawks ace found too much of the plate far too often facing the Modesto Nuts (Seattle Mariners), and was chased before the end of the fifth inning. His final line last night: seven earned runs on eight hits and two walks, with two strikeouts and two home runs allowed, in 4.2 innings pitched. Lambert threw 87 pitches, 50 of which were for strikes.
The righty sat 89-92 mph with this fastball, topping out at 93 mph, though he had slightly less working velocity on Tuesday night than he did a week ago when I saw him last; in the fourth and fifth innings last night, Peter Lambert was working 89-90 mph, compared to maintaining a 92 mph fastball through his full start one week ago. A small difference, but a big one, especially considering his stuff caught too much of the plate against an aggressive Modesto lineup in Lancaster. Lambert coupled the fastball with a 78-82 mph curveball and an 84-86 mph changeup on Tuesday night — both pretty typical velocity bands based on all my viewings throughout the year.
As he always does, Lambert threw a ton of strikes and was unrelenting in attacking Modesto’s hitters on Tuesday night, but the Colorado Rockies prospect got burned by being far too hittable in the outing, leaving too many pitches belt high and/or out over the plate. He competed like crazy though, and was visibly mad to have been taken out before getting through the fifth inning. Days like this happen; Lambert just didn’t have the pinpoint command he needed against a very aggressive Modesto club. The two teams have a built-in off day on Thursday in the middle of their best-of-five series, so it’s possible Peter Lambert could come back to pitch once more if the series goes to its final fifth game on Sunday afternoon. If not, and if this was the last 2017 start for the Colorado Rockies prospect, Lambert wraps a very, very good year on a down note. Such is baseball.
I spoke to Seattle Mariners outfield prospect Eric Filia before the game on Tuesday (we’ll have a full feature on him up in the coming days), and I made it a point to ask about Peter Lambert specifically, wondering what an opponent—especially one that has faced Lambert now three times this year—had to say about the very highly-regarded prospect.
Here’s Eric Filia on Peter Lambert:
“He’s 20 years old and he’s already proven that he’s a top-tier guy,” Filia said pre-game on Tuesday. “The most impressive thing about him is that even if he does have a bad outing, he comes back out and it’s like nothing affects him. That’s a sign of maturity, especially in this park. I have to give a lot of credit to how mature he is. And he’s thrown the rock very well against us. He’s a true competitor, and it’s great to see that, it’s fun to face guys like that. As a team, we have to compete against him. He’s a competitor, and that’s hard at his age being in the Cal League, in a hitter’s league, but he has shown that he can hang with anybody. And that’s why he’s a top-notch guy. I give a lot of credit to him.”
Filia very visibly had a lot of respect for Lambert — a telling thing coming from a hitter as good as the Mariners farmhand.
We have a full game video of Peter Lambert from Tuesday night, too; here’s every single pitch the Colorado Rockies prospect threw against Modesto at The Hangar — and you can see how he switches from a fastball-heavy first time through the order, to pitching off his changeup the second time, and then working off his curveball the third time through the lineup:
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In addition to our Peter Lambert video and report, we’ve got a handful of other notes on Colorado Rockies prospects from Tuesday night out in Lancaster. Enjoy!
Brendan Rodgers, SS
The Lancaster JetHawks took infield three-and-a-half hours before the game, but Brendan Rodgers did not participate, opting to stay down the right field line playing catch with fellow prospect Brian Mundell. (More on Mundell in a moment.) Rodgers spent a good deal of time with trainers in the outfield looking at and stretching out his throwing shoulder after playing catch, for what it’s worth, and he appeared to be having some issues with it while under the watch of the training staff. Rodgers was the designated hitter on Tuesday night, opting not to play the field, and whatever is happening with his shoulder may have played a role in that decision. Regardless, Rodgers is obviously well enough to play catch pre-game and hit in game action, so it’s not likely too serious an issue—especially with just a few days left in the season—but it bears watching this week. My hunch is he’ll DH the rest of the series.
Also, during the game, Rodgers was hit by a pitch on the hand — that’s the second time that’s happened in the last two games at Lancaster across this week and last week’s playoff rounds. A heavy pull hitter who dives out over the plate for coverage, Rodgers may see a few more high-and-tight HBPs in the coming years because pitchers are going to keep busting him in until he proves he can sit back and turn on that pitch rather than reaching to hook balls on the outer half. Luckily, Rodgers wasn’t injured in either HBP and played the rest of the game with no issue.
Brian Mundell, 1B
Brian Mundell is back with the JetHawks, though not on the active roster. I don’t have confirmation of this, but my guess is the Colorado Rockies brought him back to enjoy the playoff run with this group of guys who he came up with the last three years. Rodgers told me pre-game that when he was promoted to Double-A two months ago, the Rockies’ front office immediately asked him if he’d like to come back to Lancaster for this playoff run; it appears the plan to bring Rodgers back to the JetHawks for September was a long time in coming, a nice way to let him finish what he started alongside the core group he played with the last several summers. If I had to guess, the same is going on with Mundell, and even though he’s not active he can still enjoy the teammates he’s gotten to know so well over the last few seasons before he was promoted mid-season with Rodgers this summer.
Brad Schreiber, RHP
A big, burly righty, Brad Schreiber sat 92-93 mph with his fastball out of the bullpen on Tuesday night, also flashing a changeup and an 80-82 mph curveball that he throws very hard with some good downward life. And while Schreiber is a big guy, the relatively new Colorado Rockies farmhand showed remarkable footwork on defense, at one point out-racing speedy Luis Liberato to the first base bag on a tricky 4-1 groundout.
Max Schuh, LHP
A former quarterback at UCLA, Max Schuh sat 88-91 mph with his fastball (topping out at 92 mph) in both of his outings I’ve seen recently (Tuesday night, and in last week’s playoff round against Rancho Cucamonga). He pairs it with a changeup and a 77-81 mph slider. The slider is really good, with hard and late downward movement that is deadly against lefties and provides Schuh a legitimate bat-misser if he can only stay in a lefty-on-lefty matchup role. He’ll be 26 in March, and he put up some pretty unimpressive numbers across the entire 2017 season, but Schuh has some projectability as a lefty specialist if he can only get far enough to start specializing in that role and stay away from right-handed hitters as much as possible.
Trey Killian, RHP
Tuesday night was my first time seeing Colorado Rockies RHP Trey Killian, who came on for two innings of relief (no runs, no walks, one hit, three strikeouts). The righty flashes an 87-91 mph fastball, pairs it with a changeup and a slider, and has some deception in a drop-and-drive delivery that explodes late to the plate. He’s exclusively started in his career to date, but Killian may find his stuff plays up some in shorter bullpen stints, especially with the development of lefty starter Ty Culbreth this summer.
Carlos Polanco, RHP
People have long forgotten about Carlos Polanco as a prospect due to some serious command problems over the last twelve months, but the righty was last night’s feel-good story in Lancaster. In a ten pitch outing, Polanco threw eight strikes, recorded two strikeouts, and sat 91-96 mph with his fastball while pairing it with an 83-86 mph slider and an 85-86 mph changeup. It’s but one outing across a season of some tough times on the mound for Polanco, but the Colorado Rockies prospect has always had impressive arm strength; days like this remind you of what could be if he lines it all up.
Here’s our Carlos Polanco video from Tuesday night’s game, showing every pitch he threw in that scoreless inning of work: