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Welcome to Pittsburgh, Jake Lamb

by J.T. Toth

Photo courtesy of Arizona Sports.

The Pittsburgh Pirates agreed to a minor league contract with veteran corner infielder Jake Lamb. The 33-year-old veteran will head to big league camp and battle for a roster spot.

Jake Lamb was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 38th round of the 2009 MLB draft, but he followed through with his commitment to attend the University of Washington. He was selected again, this time in the 6th round of the 2012 MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. 

After spending 2 ½ seasons down in the minor leagues, Lamb got his first call to the Major Leagues with the Diamondbacks in 2014. His breakout seasons came in 2016-2017 with Arizona when he hit 59 homers over 2 seasons and knocked in a combined 196 runs. He was named to the 2017 NL All-Star team and things appeared to be looking up for Lamb. 

The good fortune came to an end later in the 2018 season, and he underwent season-ending shoulder surgery. 2018 was the last season he had over 200 plate appearances.

Since his shoulder surgery, Lamb has played with 8 teams and in 223 games hitting only .199 since and has not reclaimed the power that he showed in 2016-2017. On a positive note, he has had back-to-back solid AAA seasons, showing both home run and batting average ability.

Lamb can play both third base and first base and has played some corner outfield as well. He has a power stroke and a pure left-handed swing. He strikes out way too much and does not know how to shorten up his swing late in counts, leading to a lot of swings and misses. 

This is a low risk move for Ben Cherington and the Pirates. Lamb offers some depth at first base and third base and could perhaps add something as a left-handed designated hitter. The most likely scenario is that he will play at Indianapolis and be a phone call away if Ke’Bryan Hayes or Rowdy Tellez go down with an injury. 

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