CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte Knights wrapped up their six-game set on against the Nashville Sounds, Milwaukee’s triple-A affiliate, with a Sunday afternoon game at Truist Field in Charlotte. Coming into the game having lost the first three games of the series before winning the next two, Charlotte manager Wes Helms tabbed righthander Jimmy Lambert for his sixth start of the season.
Jimmy Lambert came into the 2021 season ranked 13th among all prospects in the White Sox organization according to Baseball America, and 20th at MLB.com. Lambert, Chicago’s fifth-round pick in the 2016 draft, has climbed quickly through the ranks of the White Sox organization, advancing a rung on the ladder with each passing season since 2016.
Lambert underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery in 2019, then, after a swift recovery, broke 2020’s Summer Camp as a member of the White Sox bullpen. Lambert appeared in two games, pitching two innings and giving up two hits against two strikeouts. He was sidelined soon after his debut with a forearm strain, and was shelved in July for the remainder of the season.
As the 2021 season progresses, Lambert will be someone to keep your eye on in the White Sox organization. The White Sox have been taking it easy with the 26-year-old so far through his starts in Charlotte, letting up on his leash slowly but surely with each start — as any team would with a pitcher coming back from Tommy John surgery and follow-up forearm tightness. Lambert’s workload has increased with each start, logging 1 1⁄3 innings, 1 2⁄3 , 2 2⁄3 , and lately back-to-back, three-inning starts.
His low innings pitched have seen him surrender quite a few earned runs (10 in 11 2⁄3 innings, good for a 7.71 ERA), but even that area of his line score has improved with each outing. Runs and earned runs have gone down, strikeouts have gone up, and with every start it seems like Lambert’s confidence in his stuff has only increased.
Lambert has made one appearance for the White Sox in 2021, receiving the call to be the 27th man for a doubleheader and starting against the Detroit Tigers for the second game of a June 1 split.
Sunday’s outing in Charlotte was Lambert’s longest of the season so far, as he exited after 4 2⁄3 innings with 91 pitches thrown. He walked three batters and struck out six, allowing one earned run on a throw to first base that popped out of the glove of Gavin Sheets.
While the pitch count was high when matched against his innings, Lambert’s command of the strike zone was evident. He seemed to have pinpoint control of the fastball and his secondary pitches were equally impressive.
The game ended up being called in the top of the seventh inning due to rain, but Lambert’s performance was still a shining spot in the box score.
And one shining spot in the White Sox system over recent years has been the influx of pitching prospects. While the big club has its rotation locked in for the time being, with guys like Lambert, Jonathan Stiever, and Mike Wright as solid options in Charlotte, and many others making their way through the other levels of the system, the rotation will have plenty of players vying for a spot in the not-too-near future.
As Lambert continues to build on the reputation he’s made for himself in the minors, he should be poised to be a regular contributor at the major league level within the next couple of years.