Saturday, May 05, 2012

Player Interview: Mitchell Lambson, LHP, Houston Astros (MiLB)

Lambson in a bullpen session (Houston Astros
Spring Training, 3-4-2012)
MAY 4th, 2012-I recently had the opportunity to speak with a young man who is as enthusiastic about the game of baseball as any player I've ever known (and definitely more so that some). That player is former ASU standout and 2011 Houston draftee LHP Mitchell Lambson, who made his debut with the New York-Penn League's Tri-City ValleyCats, last year (stats).

Let's get right to it, shall we?

1. During your time in this year's Spring Training, what would you say has been your greatest challenge?

Spring training was a lot of fun and I learned a lot.  It was my first spring training this year so I'd say the biggest challenge was being in a new place and figuring out what spring training is about.  I had plenty of help from my Tri-City teammates as well as help from new teammates I met at spring training to get the hang of things, and I had a great time meeting all the staff and players.

2. When you were drafted by Houston in the 19th round of last year's draft, what was the first thought that went through your mind? Did you have a notion as to where you might be drafted?

Lambson in pitcher's fielding practice (Houston Astros
Spring Training, 3-4-2012)
I immediately felt honored and pretty excited when I got drafted last spring.  It was my dream since I first started playing t-ball when I was 4 years old and to be a professional baseball player.  Getting drafted was a special moment for myself, my family, and all of my coaches, friends, and teammates who helped me to get drafted.

3. You've garnered quite a few honors in your time in amateur baseball. Is there one in particular of which you are the proudest, and why? 

I would say playing in the College World Series was the biggest honor in my amateur baseball career.  For one, it was such an awesome team achievement to reach the CWS.  I feel blessed and very grateful I got to be on two teams that made it to Omaha, as well as another team that was one win away.  Playing in the CWS was also a dream of mine since I first watched games at Rosenblatt on ESPN.  One of the main reasons I wanted to go to Arizona State was because I knew I would have a great shot at making it to the CWS.

4. You were able to play on the same Arizona State team with your brother, Mark, who had a strong showing in 10 games (23 2/3 IP) in 2011. How do you feel you compare with him, both ability-wise and in terms of personality?

Houston wasn't digging the long hair look.
Lambson reacted accordingly.
(Houston Astros Spring Training, 3-7-2012)
Playing with my brother Mark at ASU was awesome and something we will both be able to look back on and cherish forever.  My brother and I are very competitive and we have been pushing each other to be better as long as I can remember.  I try and set the bar as high as I can to push him and more times than not he beats me, (although I'll never admit that to him).  I think we are similar in our ability and we both have similar pitching styles.  The only difference really is I'm a lefty and he's a righty.

5. While in Spring Training this year, what would you say has been your favorite part of your time in practice? 

I haven't been a hitter since back in my high school days, so when they let the pitchers bunt or take a few swings in the cage during spring training practice I really enjoyed the chance to swing the bat again.  Hitting is much harder than I remembered though.  I really enjoyed all aspects of practicing during spring training and I enjoy the opportunity to get out on the ball field and play everyday.

6. While pitching for Tri-City in 2011, what was the hardest part or the most difficult adjustment you had to make in your first year in pro ball?

The biggest adjustment for me when I got to Tri-City was learning to play everyday.  The pro ball schedule is a grind and it took me some adjustments to keep my body and arm in shape to play everyday.  I love playing the game though so while playing everyday was a tough adjustment at times, it was also a fun process.

7. What would you say has been your most memorable moment in pro ball, thus far?

There have been a lot of fun moments so far in pro ball and I've met a lot of great friends and teammates, as well as getting the chance to learn from some of the best baseball coaches around.  I would say just having the opportunity to pursue my dream of playing professional baseball is the best part though, I wouldn't trade it.

8. Among the players you've met thus far, who has made the greatest impression on you, both in the Astros organization and on opposing teams?

I've learned from a lot of different players, getting to play pro baseball has given me the opportunity to play with some of the best players in the game.  I try and take something from everyone I play with to adapt to my own game so that I can try and get a little bit better everyday.

9. Have you set any specific goals for yourself going into the 2012 season?

Going into the 2012 season I want to establish myself in the Astros organization as a potential MLB prospect.  My way of achieving this is more about fine tuning my own game and getting better everyday than anything else.  I can't control where I play necessarily, but I can work hard to be a better pitcher everyday and I believe that if I do that then I will continue to move up through the minor league ranks and eventually make it to the big league club.  It is a process though and I know it isn't going to happen overnight, so committing myself to get better each and everyday is my goal.

10. How do you deal with the long bus rides on road trips? 

 I enjoy listening to music and watching movies on long road trips to help pass the time.  But I would say that getting to hang out with my teammates and getting to know them better is one of the best parts about long trips in the minors.

11. Do you do anything special to prep for a game? So many baseball players are superstitious; would you consider yourself part of that group?

I don't do anything too crazy before games, I just like to get into a good routine that prepares my body and mind to pitch in the game.  I would say my biggest superstition is to not step on the chalk, one of the golden rules of baseball.  

12. Can you give us a quick rundown of your pitches? Are there specific situations in which you might drastically change the way you pitch to a batter?

I throw a four-seam fastball, change-up, curveball, and slider.  I don't change the way I pitch to any hitter, I just try and stick to my strengths of locating pitches and changing speeds to get hitters out.  I try to have the ability to throw any pitch at any time in the count in order to keep the hitters off balance and guessing.

13. If you weren't a professional baseball player, what would you most like to be? 

My passion is baseball and I love the game, so if I wasn't a professional I would most likely find a job that keeps me around baseball and connected to the game.  I would love being a pitching coach later on in life if I got the opportunity.  

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