Andrew Lambo hit 32 homers in the upper levels of the minors last year. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Pirates Prospects 2013 Minor League Player of the Year

Andrew Lambo blasted 32 home runs to become the Pirates Prospects 2013 Minor League Player of the Year. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Andrew Lambo blasted 32 home runs to become the Pirates Prospects 2013 Minor League Player of the Year. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

In previous years there has been a debate over the top performing hitting prospect in the system. In 2011 it was Starling Marte vs Robbie Grossman. In 2012 it was Gregory Polanco vs Alen Hanson. This year there was no debate. Andrew Lambo was clearly the top performer this year among hitting prospects in the Pirates system, and is the Pirates Prospects Minor League Player of the Year.

Lambo combined for a .282/.347/.574 line in 444 at-bats this year between Double-A and Triple-A, hitting 32 home runs on the season. He led the Pirates’ minor league system in homers (32), RBIs (99), slugging percentage (.574), OPS (.922), and total bases (255). The counting stats are the most impressive part, since Lambo spent time at the end of the season in Pittsburgh, playing in only three minor league games after August 11th.

He started out back in Altoona, which is a level where he has spent a lot of time in previous years. This year marked the sixth season where Lambo has spent part of the year in Double-A. The results this time were much different. Lambo had a .291/.351/.559 line in 220 at-bats, with 14 homers. His previous high in home runs at the Double-A level was 11 in 492 at-bats in 2009. Prior to this season he had a 35.75 AB/HR ratio at the Double-A level. This year he had a 15.71 AB/HR ratio. The difference is 20 home runs over a 550 at-bat season.

There was some concern that Lambo’s numbers were a result of so much time at the level, and that he might struggle in a new level. Instead, he only got better by moving to Triple-A. In his time with Indianapolis, Lambo hit for a .272/.344/.589 line in 224 at-bats, with 18 homers. Even though he only played half a season, Lambo led Indianapolis in home runs, with the next closest hitter having five fewer home runs. Even more impressive, Lambo was tied for the tenth most home runs in the International League. The players tied with him or ahead of him had anywhere from 100-300 more at-bats at the level.

Lambo finished tied for 5th this year in all of minor league baseball with his 32 home runs. The amount of homers was also the most any Pirates minor leaguer has hit since Brad Eldred hit 38 in 2004 between High-A and Double-A. Jon Benick hit 32 that year in Low-A. Lambo was the first Pirates minor leaguer to hit 20 or more home runs since Brandon Moss hit 22 in 2010. Stetson Allie also hit more than 20 homers this year. Other notable home run totals that Lambo passed were Pedro Alvarez’s 27 in 2009 (High-A/AA) and Steve Pearce’s 31 in 2007 (High-A, Double-A, Triple-A).

The performance this year was enough to get Lambo a shot in the majors. However, due to strong performance by Jose Tabata in August, and the trade for Marlon Byrd at the end of the month, Lambo has been limited to just 25 plate appearances, with a .638 OPS in that time. He could get more of a shot next year at the age of 25. Alex Presley was recently traded, and Travis Snider is arbitration eligible this off-season and is a non-tender candidate due to his performance this year. That would make Lambo one of the top options if the Pirates don’t seek outside help.

Previous Pirates Prospects Minor League Players of the Year

2012 – Gregory Polanco

2011 – Starling Marte

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

Command of his own Kingham

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  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

    Soooooooo…does Lambo get a shot at either RF or 1b next year? (Hopefully first base).

    Foo

  • http://users.rcn.com/wtmiller/pirateprofiles.htm WTM

    He should get something, like a free lunch at Jose’s Real Cuban.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

      Yeah, but then everyone would want to win Player of the Year if I started giving out free lunches at Jose’s.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD

    A real good story and I am very happy for Andrew Lambo – really turned his career around a full 180 this year, after many had given up on him. I hope the Pirates give him a real chance to be the starting RF or 1B next year. He deserves a real chance and I hope he gets it. If he turns out to be the real thing as far as a power hitter, can you imagine what that would do to our lineup next year??

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