I had a chance to see John Lamb in person last Tuesday night, and I decided to watch the game like a scout instead of a fan, because being a Reds fan hasn’t been that much fun these last couple of months. This game turned out to be much more exciting after Lamb had been pulled (Titanic Struggle Recap), but here’s my scouting report to the nation:

Lamb gets everything he can out of his 6’4″ frame. He has a three-quarter delivery, but releases with full extension, and takes a very long stride towards the plate. This probably makes his pitches feel a little faster to a hitter than they are, because I’d guess he releases the ball a full foot closer to the hitter than say, Mike Leake. His delivery appears to be low- to mid-effort, which I think is better than having a guy go max-effort the whole game.

Lamb’s repertoire was very impressive; this is why he was a top prospect prior to his injury. His fastball was usually 92 or 93, though he added and subtracted off of it nicely, ranging from 90 to 95, something that I normally associate with more mature pitchers. He controlled his fastball to both sides of the plate, though it looked like he was more comfortable spotting it to the third-base side. He also showed the ability to throw it both low and high in the zone, though it looked like he was more comfortable down (more on that in a bit). Overall, his fastball looks like a plus pitch that kept batters off balance for the most part.

He throws his changeup primarily to RH hitters and his curveball primarily to LF hitters, as is traditional for a lefty. His changeup came in in the low- to mid-80s, giving him very good separation off of his fastball. He delivered his changeup with average to good deception, and he got some silly looking swings and misses out in front when it worked. His curve was probably the better offering though. It looked like he got 10-4 break on it most times, which would make it sort of a slurve, but he can throw it anywhere from 70 to 83, giving hitters a lot to think about. He threw the curve both as a called strike to lead off an AB, and out of the zone when he’s ahead in the count.

Lamb’s two problems were pitch selection and delivery consistency. Whether he was calling his own game or getting signs from Barnhart, Lamb clearly doesn’t have the best natural sense of how to attack hitters in different counts. The most painful example of course was the Posey homerun.  After getting ahead 0-2, Posey got back into the count at 2-2, and Lamb went with a fastball down and in. This looked like the location he was most comfortable with, but it was also Posey’s wheelhouse, and one swing later the game was tied. With the Giants best hitter at the plate, down-and-away or up-and-in were much safer locations. He also got burned doubling up on curveballs a couple of times, after making a hitter look bad with the first one.

His delivery got out of sorts a here and there, leading to a few pitches that missed by a lot. That said, none of those pitches really hurt him, and it didn’t look like he had a big flaw in his delivery that was giving him problems, just that he’s got long limbs and it’s going to take him a few years to really be able to control his motion exactly. He struck out three and didn’t walk anyone, so control wasn’t as big of a problem as some possible mental lapses that lead to hits.

I came away very excited for Lamb’s future. He’s got all of the tools that he needs to be a third starter on a good MLB team, and the issues that he has seemed more related to youth and inexperience, rather than talent. With good health, a better game plan, and a more consistent delivery, he’ll get a lot of outs for the Reds over the next five years or so.