After taking a fairly roundabout way into the Padres’ organization that included a year-long suspension for some mis-managed documentation, Lamet made up for lost time in 2016 when he started at High A and finished the year in Triple-A. Lamet has always had power stuff, but the 70-grade heater he brought out last week versus Tacoma was something special. He was locating it to all quadrants with late tail down in the zone, and with significant late hop in the zone up above the belt. He is primarily a fastball/slider guy, but the slider is a 65-grade offering that is a true out-pitch, and it will miss bats in the big leagues. The changeup is coming along, but right now is still quite firm and lacks any real depth. However, given how the arm works, it is not a stretch to think that he can get it to average, which when paired with the rest of his arsenal should be more than enough for him to turn over big league lineups.
The main knock on Lamet at this moment is that while the command has taken a step forward, the plate can still jump around on him at times and when he does miss, it tends to be out over the plate. Obviously, he has significant margin for error, pitching in the mid-to-upper 90’s with a swing-and-miss breaking ball, but at the major league level, those issues will be quickly exploited. He has done a nice job keeping the ball on the ground so far this year (1.67 GO:AO mark through four starts, up from 0.88 mark in 2016) and his strikeouts are up (12.6 SO/9 versus approximately 11 SO/9 last year) after punching out 22 over his last 12 ⅓ innings. Lamet’s actions are very smooth and the easy arm speed he generates translates to double-plus life in the zone, and it’s reminiscent of Danny Salazar (RHP, Indians) at around the same age. The Padres aren’t in a rush to get Lamet to the show, but if he can show progress with a third pitch and continue to improve his command, it would not be a shocker to see him debut at some point in the next eight weeks.