The Cards 2004 #1 Draft Pick, Wins his 1st Game

Chris Lambert gets the call from the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round of the 2004 draft. <p> The top draft pick retired the first 16 batters he faced in his pro debut, en-route to his first win, this weekend.

When the St. Louis Cardinals lost to the Boston Red Sox in last year's World Series, a common theory held that a lack of dominant starting pitching caused the Cardinals' demise.

Perhap's that's true. The Red Sox certainly received dominant starting pitching performances from Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, and Derek Lowe in Games 2, 3, and 4 of the Series while St. Louis starters struggled against a potent Boston offense.

As I've written earlier this spring in various articles appearing here on MVN and MSNBC Sports, Fox Sports, the Sporting News, and (Ray Mileur and Brian Walton's "The Birdhouse", a great source of info on all things Cardinals related) among others, the solution to the lack of dominant starting pitching at the major league level lies in the continued development of some guys who are clearly dominant starting pitching prospects.

Yes, I'm talking about Adam Wainwright, Anthony Reyes, Blake Hawksworth, Stuart Pomeranz, and Chris Lambert again. You know who they are. If you track major league prospects at all that is. All five of them are on every "Top 100 Pitching Prospects" list that I've seen.

The Cardinals actually have six pitchers in the top 100. I didn't include Brad Thompson's name (he's the kid that had the baseball world buzzing last summer when he reeled off a streak of 57 consecutive scoreless innings) because his Greg Maddux like style might not be considered dominant by some. All Maddux has done, of course, is win 300 games in the majors.

I had the opportunity to see one of these guys (Chris Lambert) pitch on Saturday night. Lambert was pitching for the Palm Beach Cardinals in a high Class A Florida State League game against the Jupiter Hammerheads, a Florida Marlins affiliate.

And you better believe this kid is a dominant starting pitcher. In fact, prospects don't come any more dominating. Or any better for that matter.

Lambert (the Cardinals' top pick in the 2004 draft out of Boston College) was overpowering from the start and seemed to get better and better as the game progressed. Flashing a 96-98 mph fastball, Lambert just blew the Hammerheads' hitters away as he pitched six hitless and scoreless innings, striking out six. He retired the first 16 batters he faced and allowed only one baserunner (who was hit by a pitch). He left the game when he reached his pitch count and Palm Beach cruised on to an easy 5-0 win.

"I expect to win every time I pitch", Lambert said following the game, "As long as I pitch the way I'm capable of, I'm going to be successful."

Given the way he performed in Palm Beach on Saturday night, it would be hard to argue with that statement.

Words of advice to you guys that make pitching prospect lists: Make sure this kid is on your list and rank him high.

He'll make you look good.

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