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PIO notes: Steady Lamb leads Osprey
Washington native putting up strong numbers in pro debut
08/23/2012 1:21 PM ET
Jake Lamb leads Pioneer League third basemen with a .959 fielding percentage.
Jake Lamb leads Pioneer League third basemen with a .959 fielding percentage. (Missoula Osprey)
Jake Lamb was born in Seattle and grew up in the shadow of the University of Washington. Unequivocally, he was a Husky through and through.

"We lived five minutes from campus," Lamb said. "I always had the purple and gold on."

Lamb parlayed his love for the Huskies -- and baseball -- into a productive three-year career at UW, where he posted a .326 batting average and was a three-time honorable mention All-Pac-12 selection and a 2010 freshman All-American. A solid line-drive hitter, the third baseman led the team in doubles, RBIs and on-base percentage this past season.

It led to Lamb being selected in the sixth round of the 2012 Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was assigned to Missoula in the Rookie-level Pioneer League, where he's continued to build on his burgeoning talent.

"I feel like I've performed reasonably well as far as hitting and defense," Lamb said. "The biggest change from college is the mental and physical grind. I heard people say that coming in, but it's something you have to experience for yourself.

"It's pretty tough to come out and play every day and still have the same focus. It's hard on the body, especially playing a full college season and then coming right to Missoula. But I wouldn't have it any other way."

Lamb has been nothing if not consistent this season. In 55 games through Aug. 21, Lamb held a .311 batting average with six home runs, 45 RBIs and 37 runs scored. His 18 doubles were second-most in the league and his 28 extra-base hits ranked fifth.

Defensively, Lamb has been one of the best in the league. His .959 fielding percentage (seven errors in 171 total chances) led all third basemen.

"As far as offense, I've always been good at using the whole field," Lamb explained. "I've been working a lot with our hitting coach [J.R. House] because in college I was so used to working the opposite field. Then I got to Missoula and they wanted me to pull the ball more. So I've been working on using the whole field, using gaps ... all that stuff.

"I've been working a bunch on my defense. The range has gone down a little bit [due to a minor leg injury], but my arm is my best attribute. I try to be a leader out there on the field."

Lamb played 162 career games at Washington. Aside from hitting .326, Lamb had 197 hits, 10 homers, 88 RBIs, 85 runs and 39 doubles. Not a bad stat line for the exact duration of a full Major League season.

But Lamb acknowledges that if he is to advance to play for the Osprey's parent club in Arizona one day, he'll have to improve in various facets of the game.

"I think I can do a lot better than that," he said. "In college I wasn't as mentally strong as I am now. I could start off a game 0-for-2 and I'd think, 'This game's over. I can't have a good game today.' That was kind of my mentality. Now it's completely changed. Staying positive has really helped me."

Missoula is currently in a tight race with Billings for the Pioneer League's North Division title. Missoula sat three games back of Billings for the division lead with 15 games remaining in the regular season. The winner will earn a postseason berth.

Missoula and Billings play six more times, including what figures to be a crucial two-game set at the end of the year.

"We just have to focus on one game at a time because these teams aren't just going to give it to us," Lamb said. "Everybody's trying to win baseball games. We're not worrying about the standings as far as what Billings is doing because we're going to get our shot at them."

In brief

Stretching it out: There have been some lengthy hitting streaks in the Pioneer League this season, but Grand Junction outfielder David Dahl topped them all. Dahl put together a 27-game streak that was snapped last week, falling just five games shy of the league record set by Billings' Chris Valaika in 2006.

Playing long ball: With 15 homers, Grand Junction slugger Julian Yan is poised to win the league's home run crown. Yan has hit 11 homers in his last 21 games to surge to the league lead. Orem's Wade Hinkle and Billings' Robert Maddox rank second with 11 each.

Come one, come all: The league is again seeing great attendance numbers. Entering Aug. 22 a total of 571,002 fans had visited Pioneer League ballparks. Six of the league's eight teams -- Ogden, Billings, Grand Junction, Idaho Falls, Missoula and Orem -- were averaging better than 2,300 fans per game.

Greg Rachac is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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