Peter Lambert was considered the top pitching prospect in the Rockies minor-league system.
Emphasis on the past tense.
The 22-year-old Lambert made his big-league debut against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, and made it evident he was ready for the opportunity.
Lambert worked seven innings, allowing just one run in the Rockies 3-1 victory, allowing the Rockies to rebound from back-to-back losses to the Cubs, and chalk up their ninth victory in 11 games.
He even added a first-pitch base hit in his first big-league at-bat, against Cubs lefthander Jose Quintana.
"I'm a pitcher still," he said."I got a fastball and put a good swing on it."
Most of all, he pitched and pitched well. He threw 95 pitches, 63 of which were strikes, and mixed his fastball with what catcher Chris Iannetta called "a plus change, curveball that is a big breaker, and even a slider. I was impressed where he came from (with the slider) since the spring."
And what was most impressive was after giving up that one run in the sixth inning -- Kris Bryant doubled with one out, and came home on a Javier Baez single -- Lambert finished up his debut by striking out the side in the seventh.
First, he got David Bote, who drove in seven runs the night before, swinging on seven pitches. Then Albert Alomora took a called third on a 3-2 pitch. And finally, Daniel Descalso went down swinging on five pitches.
And he never broke a sweat.
“Stayed calm, stayed under control -- I mean, pitched, really pitched,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “That what we were saying on the bench. Fastball-change-breaking ball combo, behind the count changeups, high fastballs, fastballs down and away at the knees. It was great. That was cool for me.”
The end result?
In the Rockies 61st game of the season, Lambert made his debut and produced only the sixth game of the year in which a Rockies starting pitcher worked seven or more innings and allowed one or no runs.
Source: Stats, Inc.
He turned in one of those never-in-doubt efforts. He put his stamp on his arrival with nine strikeouts, the most ever for a Rockies rookie in his debut. And the seven innings equaled the third highest total in a debut
Lambert never showed any since of panic, not even in the second inning when he struck out Quintana to escape a bases-loaded jam. Even in that six-batter inning he only threw 18 pitches.
“I thought I’d go out there and feel the heart pumping at first, but I was all right from the start,” Lambert said
Twice a Rockies rookie debuted with a complete game. Jason Jennings shut out the Mets on Aug. 23, 2001 in a 10-0 win that featured Jennings hitting a home run.
And Mark Brownson shut out the Astros on July 21, 1998 in a four-hit effort, easily the highlight of his brief big-league career that consisted of 11 appearances and nine starts over three years -- the last one in Philadelphia.
In working his way through seven innings, Lambert allowed only five base runners -- the three in the second inning and two in the sixth. He became only the 10th rookie pitcher in Major League Baseball this season to work at least seven innings in a start -- including Mike Soroka of Atlanta and Yusei Kikuchi of the Mariners, who have done it twice apiece.
He was the 20th pitcher selected in the June 2015 draft, the 44th player overall. But despite being the youngest of the group, he became only the ffth pitcher of those 20 to have appeared in a big-league game, the 19th player overall.
Not to shabby, considering he just turned 22 on April 18, and his big-league debut came in only the 98th game of his professional career.