2006 Ranking: 3
School: Boston College
Cardinal: Selected in the first round (19th overall) of the June, 2004
First-Year Player Draft. Received a $1,525,000 signing bonus. 2006 G W-L IP H BB K ERA WHIP
Jason Scott (23): Lambert fell 20 spots in my rankings this year. There was really nothing positive about his 2006 season. He did win 10 games but he also lost the same amount. He posted a 5.34 ERA, allowed 20 home runs, walked 63 and opponents hit .270 against him. All of this from the Cardinals first pick in the 2004 draft, who started his professional career at low Class A Peoria. He has now spent nearly two seasons at Springfield, having yet to succeed. It will be interesting to see where they send him to start the 2007 season. His future might be in the bullpen.
Leonda Markee (12): Lambert's 2006 season resulted in him dropping out of our Top 10. I appear to be a bit more lenient (or is that foolishly optimistic) in my ranking than a couple of my fellow Birdhouse ‘rankers' but even I agree that his potential has dimmed after the 2006 season. Lambert is my seventh-best pitching prospect this year. Overall, I dropped him from fourth in 2005 to 12th now. Although I ranked three 2006 draftees above Lambert, in general I am reluctant to assign too much weight to a newbie's one-year performance. So Lambert's ranking has at least as much to do with that philosophy as it does as an endorsement of him. Given his first-round draft status he will be given future opportunities to succeed. However, his best chance of acquiring Major League playing time may be out of the bullpen.
Ray Mileur (8): For some reason, I'm always getting Chris Lambert and Eric Haberer mixed up. Haberer went to college at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, our local college here and Lambert to Boston College, but I swear I keep thinking Lambert is from SIU-C.
I interviewed Lambert last season and just before we started, I kept saying to myself, Boston College, Boston College, Boston College. Five minutes into the interview I asked him what did he take away from his playing time at SIU-C? Go figure.
Anyway let's hope I'm describing Lambert here instead of Haberer.
A 10-9 record with a 5.30 ERA at Double-A Springfield this season, the 2004 first round pick is still one of the Cardinals' top prospects. He did get a single start at Triple-A Memphis lasting only four innings, giving up three runs on five hits.
Everyone knew when he was drafted that he was a very raw talent and that it was going to take some time for him to develop into a major league pitcher. Pitchers from the Northeast often struggle with the adjustments to professional baseball. So his progess to date is basically what I expected.
This season we should see some of that potential manifest itself on the mound. Look for him to likely start the season at Triple-A Memphis, though I would prefer him to experience more success at Double-A. I would like to see him showing more consistency in his control and mechanics before he moves up to Memphis.
This may not be a make or break year for Lambert, but failing to show significant improvement this season and Lambert is likely to fall to the bottom of our prospects rankings.
Brian Walton (19): Lambert had been expected to reach Memphis last season, but ultimately did not progress as fast as expected – with just one four-inning fill-in start in Triple-A in July. Whispers about whether his velocity is still mid-90's and there potentially being less movement on his fastball are yellow flags at least.
He walked too many batters again this season, 63, which equals his 63 in 2005, the most in the entire system. He also served up a whopping 20 taters. But, Lambert's strikeout rate, 115 in 124-2/3 innings, is fine so there is hope that with greater consistency he can still reach his potential.
I do wonder at times if he lacks the physical size and personal drive to become a top-line starter, and may not ultimately be better suited for the bullpen.
STAFF COMMENTS KEY: Staff Member (Individual Ranking), NR = Not Rated
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