The Texas Rangers landed one of college baseball's top pure athletes when they selected Clemson's Will Lamb in the second round of the 2011 MLB Draft.
A two-way standout for the Tigers, Lamb worked as a centerfielder, a first baseman, and a left-handed pitcher.
In 59 games as a position-player this season, Lamb played errorless ball in the field while batting .348/.389/.471 with 13 stolen bases in 17 attempts. He was the Tigers' second-leading hitter. He also made 10 appearances (four starts) on the mound, going 1-1 with a 5.11 earned-run average. The 20-year-old logged 24.2 innings, giving up 24 hits, walking 11, and striking out 29.
Because Lamb is an excellent athlete with a 6-foot-6, 175-pound frame, above-average speed, and a strong arm, some professional teams showed interest in him as an outfield prospect. But the Rangers liked the projectable frame and arm strength, which has translated to a 90-95 mph fastball on the bump.
While Lamb has never worked as a full-time pitcher, he displays fluid mechanics and throws his above-average fastball on a downhill plane. He also mixes in an upper-70s breaking ball with good tilt to go along with the occasional changeup.
The Rangers were able to sign Lamb for a reported slot-level $430,200 bonus on Wednesday afternoon. He has already reported to Spokane, where he'll join the short-season Northwest League squad just in time for opening day.
As Lamb explains in the following interview, he expects to work solely as a pitcher, and he expects to work as a starter.
Lone Star Dugout caught up with Lamb after he officially became a Ranger on Wednesday.
Jason Cole: What were your thoughts on getting drafted by the Rangers?
Will Lamb: It was a cool experience. I mean, getting selected that high is pretty cool.
Cole: Coming into the draft, did you have any expectations as far as where you'd get picked?
Lamb: No, I thought I was good enough to be drafted where I was. I was fortunate enough to be drafted where I was. It didn't really bother me where I was drafted or not.
Cole: Your area scout at Clemson was Chris Kemp. Had you noticed him watching you often during the season?
Lamb: Yeah, he had seen me just about every time we played. He was on me from start to finish, which is awesome. It speaks volumes for the Rangers––if they want a guy, they're going to pursue him.
Cole: As you come into pro ball, how much do you already know about the Rangers' organization?
Lamb: I know they're doing well right now. They produce good prospects and everything, so I'll take it from there.
Cole: Obviously you're a guy that also had a lot of success in college as a hitter. Did you have any teams talking to you about being a position player at the next level?
Lamb: Yeah, a couple teams, but I'm with the Rangers, so it doesn't matter now.
Cole: What are your thoughts on pitching versus hitting? Is there one that you've preferred during your career?
Lamb: Not really. I think I excel at both, so it doesn't really matter to me.
Cole: Is there any chance that the Rangers let you swing the bat at all this summer?
Lamb: I don't think so. I think it's just going to be getting in the routine of pitching. I haven't been on a pitching routine ever, so they're going to do that with me.
Cole: Tell me about you on the mound. What's in your repertoire and what kind of pitcher do you view yourself as?
Lamb: I view myself as a starter. I have three pitches––fastball, slider, changeup. I just go out there and compete. That's what I've been doing since day one.
Cole: What kind of role are you expecting to work in with Spokane this summer?
Lamb: Probably starting.
Cole: In your first summer of pro ball, what are you looking forward to improving on as you work with your pitching coach out there?
Lamb: Just getting into a routine. I've never had a routine before, so it's going to be interesting to see what goes on with that and just getting into it.
Cole: Aside from all the draft stuff and signing, what has been the most fulfilling moment of your career to date?
Lamb: Going to the World Series. That was pretty cool.
Cole: I'm assuming that was the first time you'd played in front of that many fans and on national television.
Lamb: Yeah, yeah. That was the first time ever.
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Q&A with Rangers 2nd round pick Will Lamb
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