It wasn’t too long ago that Andrew Lambo was mentioned among the game’s top minor leaguers. Baseball America ranked the first baseman/outfielder as the 49th best prospect prior to 2009, only a handful of spots behind Andrew McCutcheon, Austin Jackson, Elvis Andrus, and Dominic Brown just to name a few.
Lambo, 19-years-old at the time, was coming off of an impressive first full season in pro ball, hitting .295/.351/.482 split between Class A and Class AA. He showed above-average power (35 doubles, three triples, and 18 homeruns) and solid strikeout and contact rates considering his age and level of competition.
Since then, however, most of Lambo’s production has failed to meet what was once projected for him.
The Dodgers, despite his youth at the time, had him start the 2009 back in Double-A, where he struggled (.256/.311/.407). And he would return back to Chattanooga for a third season in 2010, hitting a mediocre .271/.352/.420 before being shipped to Pittsburgh as part of the coup for Octavio Dotel. He would finish the season with a combined line of .272/.334/.397.
And his 2011 was much like the two before: disappointing.
Splitting his time between the Eastern and International Leagues, Lambo batted just .236/.308/.375 but still showed an intriguing mix of doubles and homeruns (28 and 11, respectively). He would then go on to lose the majority of the 2012 season due to injury and at that point looked all but forgotten as a former top prospect.
Until this year, that is.
After dominating Double-A for half the season (.291/.351/.559), Lambo’s shown little regression once Pittsburgh pushed him back up to Triple-A, where he’s hitting a robust .268/.330/.577. His 29 homeruns is tied with Houston’s George Springer for tops in the minors. And according to Weighted Runs Created Plus, his total offensive production has been 45% better than the average.
Despite being in pro ball for parts of seven seasons, Lambo’s still only 24-years-old. And given his platoon splits over the course of his career – he’s batting .274/.345/.496 against southpaws – and his positional versatility, Lambo could become a very useful role player for the Pirates in the coming years. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him peak as a Brandon Moss-type player either – if used properly.
Photo of Andrew Lambo Courtesy of Mark Olson/MiLB.com