Coming as a pleasant surprise to the Padres, right-handed reliever Dinelson Lamet impressed in the minors, earning him pitching prospect of the year.
One area in which the San Diego Padres struggled in 2016 was in their bullpen. They clearly lacked middle inning relievers, as well as a formidable closer after trading away Craig Kimbrel and Drew Pomeranz.
Thankfully, the minor league system provides hope in this area. Late last week, relief pitcher Dinelson Lamet was named San Diego’s pitching prospect of the year, opening many eyes to the abilities and potential of this young fiery pitcher. Ranked only 18th on San Diego’s top thirty prospects rankings, Lamet may not be well known. But the 24-year-old’s rapid rise through the lower levels of the Padres’ minor league system is nothing to ignore.
Lamet pitched for three different clubs in 2016, indicative of his quick rise to the higher levels of the minor leagues. In total, with the Lake Elsinore Storm of High-A, San Antonio Missions of Double-A, and El Paso Chihuahuas of Triple-A, Lamet struck out 158 while walking just 61, and earning only three runs per nine innings.
What is most promising though about Lamet may not even be his natural pitching abilities, but the need of the void he can fill effectively. San Diego has struggled closing out games for some time now, and with a young electric pitcher with simple but dominant stuff, the pitching staff can reverse this trend.
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The native of the Dominican Republic already has a mid-90s fastball with a devastating off-speed alternative. His ability to change speeds is what makes him most effective, a sign of a mature pitcher at a young age.
Being awarded the Padres’ pitching prospect of the year, Lamet has a lot of work ahead of him. He isn’t well known, even among San Diego fans. This however makes this recognition even more telling as to how much the young pitcher can grow and develop into a future major league weapon. While it may not happen right away, Lamet serves as yet another positive within this young core which fans hope develops into a special teams in the near future.
Lamet is still a season away, and quite possibly multiple seasons away, but he is worth monitoring now. He brings value to the organization by providing them with a valuable weapon that not all teams have. The greatest aspect of all of this though is that Lamet has not yet fully developed his fastball or secondary pitch. When he does, as scouts predict he will, the Padres have a chance to have a dominant reliever burst on to the scene and contribute to an exciting youth movement.