Today we wrapped up the first month of the 2014 season in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system by announcing the Player of the Month and the Pitcher of the Month. I originally planned to have First Pitch focus on early season promotion candidates at each level. However, after going through each level, I couldn’t find any “must promote” players in Altoona or West Virginia. That’s not to say that no one is doing well there. It’s just saying that no one from those two teams should be moving up a level right now.
My pick for Bradenton would have been Pat Ludwig, who has been excellent in the rotation in High-A since late last season, and who now doesn’t have a rotation spot with Tyler Glasnow back in the mix.
I decided to scrap the entire system focus, and focus specifically on one player who should be promoted right away.
No. Not Gregory Polanco. I don’t believe he should be brought up before the Super Two deadline.
I’m talking about Polanco’s teammate, who is almost playing as well as Polanco. I’m talking about Andrew Lambo.
Lambo isn’t in the same situation as Polanco. He doesn’t profile as an impact player and a future star a few years down the line. Super Two won’t matter for him, because it’s unlikely that the Pirates will still have him for his biggest arbitration years. Their future outfield involves Polanco in right field, and he could have a future at first base, but right now that spot is held by Ike Davis for a few years. Even if he does reach Super Two status, he won’t cost as much as Polanco, who projects to be an impact player by the time he reaches arbitration.
Currently, Lambo has a .354/.436/.585 line in 82 at-bats. He has broken out of his homerless drought by hitting home runs in back to back games the last two games. He currently has a seven game hitting streak, and in his last ten games he has seven doubles and two homers, with a 1.245 OPS. If it wasn’t for a bad performance during Spring Training, Lambo would currently be in the majors at first base. That’s not to say that he would have been this successful.
A few weeks ago, Ryan Palencer wrote about the adjustments Lambo had been working on since being sent down. Those adjustments seem to be working. The Pirates sent Lambo down so that he could get back on track. Since then, they have added a first baseman, which has moved him back to his usual position as a corner outfielder. Lambo is back on track with his hitting, and one need for the Pirates is in right field. It would make all the sense in the world to call Lambo up now for some immediate help. Travis Snider and Jose Tabata have had a lot of opportunities. You could give them another month before Polanco arrives, but what are you accomplishing? At least if you start Lambo for a month, you finally get a glimpse of what he can do in the majors.
I’d write more about why Lambo should be up, but instead I’ll just stick with the numbers in Triple-A, the adjustments he has made, and the fact that he doesn’t carry the same Super Two implications as Polanco. Beyond that, you should check out Charlie Wilmoth’s article at Bucs Dugout, making the argument for Lambo in the short-term while the team waits for Polanco.
Links and Notes
**2014 Pirates Draft Prospects: Sean Newcomb, Casey Gillaspie, Spencer Adams, Braxton Davidson. We’ll be running this feature every Thursday, leading up to the draft. The goal is to focus on four players each week who could be in the Pirates’ range.