Every week when I look through my Inception cards to pick out who to research, I struggle with the decision. There are some guys that I know much better than others - like Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton - some guys I am just flat intrigued by (Jorge Soler) and others I know or care nothing about. I want to get to know all of these players and cards, so I will get to them eventually. But I know I need to start choosing some cards of guys who have not made much headway or don’t look like they will ever make.
But this week is not one of those players!
Jake Lamb is in the spotlight this week, and not just because he has an awesome first name! Rake Lamb, as some fantasy baseball podcasts are known to call him, was really fun to learn about this week!
I will have to go back and check, but I think that to this point, Jake Lamb may be the lowest drafted player I have profiled. Brett Phillips was in the same round, but he was 189th overall, while Lamb came in at 213th overall from the University of Washington. Lamb was a Freshman All-American and All-Pac 12 at UW, then followed that up by being All-Pac 12 for the next two years.
That’s the kind of pedigree that makes me wonder why I guy doesn’t get taken until the sixth round.
It was honestly kind of difficult to find a lot of in-depth scouting on Lamb from his college years or near the draft. Could this be because of the lack of national exposure the Northwest has for college baseball?I don’t know. But I left with the impression that Lamb “came out of nowhere,” which is odd for a guy who was obviously a top notch college ballplayer.
Some scouts takes on Lamb from early on and more recent comments:
- Prototypical pull hitter. But what's a bit different about Jake is his ability to pull the ball pitched on the outer half of the plate with reasonable success.
- Probably one of the shortest swings executed in the league. Shorter swings = longer time to react.
- Lamb is a legitimate plus defender at third base with excellent range, soft hands and above-average arm strength as well as the agility and athleticism to stick at the position long term.
- Has monster power and pretty decent plate patience, too. Owns a very strong arm at the hot corner and is generally a sound defender.
- Strikes out way too much, so he will need to curb his penchant for swinging and missing in order to maximize output in MLB.
My takeaway from this? He is a typical major league player in this day and age. Plays good defense, strikes out too much but has a ton of power. How many teams have that kind of profile as their default search term? I imagine he would fit right in with the Astros!
In looking at his short Minor League stint, it’s obviously that Lamb was going to get a shot at the MLB from the very first few weeks into his career. In 2012, Lamb was among the league leaders in hits, doubles, RBI, slugging pct., OPS, homers and average; he finished 8th or above in all of those categories.
In 2013 Lamb continued his rise through Rookie and Advanced A, leading to his being named the No. 9 or No. 10 prospect in all of baseball depending on who you asked at the time (Baseball America or MLB.com). In 2014 he spent time in AA then AAA before making his debut with the Diamondbacks on September 7, going 1-4 with a strikeout.
Since then, he has amassed 274 hits, 43 HRs, 11 SBs, a .255 avg, and a .326 obp. Not numbers that stand out as eye-popping or astronomical, but solid and absolutely worthy of the acclaim he has received to this point as a 26 year old.
Look of the Card:
I have been wondering lately what the thought process is like for choosing the photos for Inception cards. Obviously there has to be a reason for all of these decisions, but to me, the choice to show guys on the follow through of a swing is somewhat confusing. I am sitting here trying to imagine who looks good on the follow through, and really the good example that comes to mind is Griffey Jr. I know there are others, but so far I do not think the follow-through-on-the-swing photo is very good with Inception.
I guess it’s cool to see his name on the jersey, that part of this card is fairly unique. And the color of the DBacks old uniforms and helmets looks really good against the woodgrain background of the 2014 set.
One detail that draws my attention is how the barrel of his bat covers up the second “i” in Inception. It’s just a little bit of the card that I find fun and fascinating. Maybe someday I can have a chat with someone involved in this process and find out why stuff like that happens.
As always, I can’t help but notice the look on Lamb’s face in this swing. I really wish I could see his eyes, because then I would have a stronger indication of whether or not this ended up being a good hit or not. The look on his face could be either a grimace - that instantaneous realization that it was not a good hit - or just the result of the strain of the swing (especially considering his power potential). Either way, it’s something that makes me smile every time I look closely.
As much as I would love to be able to number similarities between myself and Jake Lamb, the only one I will focus on is the fact that we both tend to highlight the first letter of our first name with a big cursive J. Lamb, however, flourishes the bottom half of the J, whereas I flourish the top half. I’ll bet you are glad to have that little bit of trivia on hand now! I also like how the L and B of Lamb are solid bookends to his last night. Overall a strong signature in my opinion!
Jake Lamb’s Inception card has felt for a long while that it could absolutely explode in value. Because Lamb can be prone to streaks of absolutely mashing the ball, his Inception card’s value tends to fluctuate a good deal.
Currently the base card has a listing range that begins at $4.73 and goes all the way up to $19.95. Definitely not as egregious a range as some of these cards can get, but still a significant difference. There is a /25 Green Parallel available for $57.50 if anyone is interested!
And listings on COMC.com are not much different, ranging from $4.73-$15.50. All of this gives pretty solid look at what the hobby community expects from Lamb’s value.
As for sales of the card, there have been 13 sales on ebay in the last three months. Sellers have made as little as $0.99 up to $4.79 from the card. There are some outliers on COMC.com, with there being 62 sales since the release of the card, with the highest purchase being $10.72.
Quick update on eBay sales: since the original research for this card was done, one base card was sold for $7.25 with five people bidding on it. Maybe Lamb has gotten an in-season bump?