One benefit to the Arizona Diamondbacks being so horrendous in 2014 is that young prospects get an early look at the major leagues. Most of the time elite prospects do not get called up in August on contending teams because they are contending for a reason and managers do not want to rock the boat by bringing up a young 20-year-old. Of course there are exceptions to this rule like Manny Machado in 2012.
When the Diamondbacks traded third baseman Martin Prado to the Yankees on July 31st they lost an everyday player leaving a huge hole in the lineup. Manager Kirk Gibson experimented with a few players at third base including Cliff Pennington and Jordan Pacheco. But when the two players both have a career OPS+ around 80 and aren’t good enough to play everyday in the major leagues.
In case there were any doubt, Jake Lamb "is going to be our third baseman," Gibson said."He has a great bat, and we are in need of offense."
— Jack Magruder (@JackMagruder) August 8, 2014
Realizing that they desperately need offense, the Diamondbacks called up minor league slugger Jake Lamb. Gibson has said that Lamb will be the new everyday third baseman for the remainder of 2014. If Lamb produces the way he has in his minor league career, he will be a fan favorite in Arizona very soon.
Trading Prado was one of the most underrated moves of the trade deadline for a few reasons. One is the Diamondbacks unloaded Prado’s enormous salary on the New York Yankees. Another reason is it opened the door for Lamb to bring his massive bat to the major league level.
Lamb was a sixth round pick just two years ago out of the University of Washington. He has crushed the ball at every minor league level since he was drafted. He spent the 2012 season in Missoula and had 92 hits in just 67 games. He posted an unbelievable slash line of .329/.390/.539.
I was going to go through the rest of his minor league career and list his power numbers at every level but that would be tedious. In his minor league career, his career OPS is .959 and he has never had a slugging percentage under .539. Lamb doesn’t have a lot of home run power but is a doubles machine. It is widely believed that doubles power eventually turns to home run power and if this is true Diamondback fans should be elated.
Another thing Lamb brings to the Diamondbacks is excitement. With franchise player Paul Goldschmidt on the shelf and potential stars A.J. Pollock, Chris Owings, and Patrick Corbin out with injuries there is no real reason to watch the Diamondbacks. Lamb gives the fans something to be excited about. Fans want to see a player who is going to crush the ball and could be a mainstay in the lineup for years.
Lamb made his major league debut on August 7th and recorded his first major league hit against Jeremy Guthrie and the crowd roared. The Diamondback’s Instagram account posted a picture the day of the game indicating that Lamb would make his major league debut and fans commented saying they were excited to come to Chase Field and see him play. He has only played in a few major league games and has already made the Diamondbacks more exciting for fans.
An AL West scout said, “It seems like every time I saw him, he was putting a ball into the gap…you’re looking at a third baseman who could give you 50-60 extra base hits a year and I think most teams would take that.” It will be interesting to see if he can dominate major league pitching the way he did minor league pitching. But if his minor league numbers are any indication, Lamb will be fun to watch for years to come.