DENVER -- Infielder Ryan McMahon, who finished the season in the Majors, and Class A Advanced right-handed pitcher Peter Lambert have been named the Rockies' Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year, respectively, by MLBPipeline.com.
McMahon, currently ranked the No. 3 prospect in the system, and Lambert, No. 5, were second-round picks out of California high schools -- McMahon in 2013 out of Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, Lambert from San Dimas High. They earned the honor not only through stellar statistical seasons, but also through off-the-field intangibles that should serve them well on the climb.
Each team's Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLBPipeline.com staff. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors, appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list and played the entire year in the organization.
The Rockies purposely put McMahon, 22, through the grinder in 2016. He played 133 games for a Double-A Hartford club and batted .242 with a .325 on-base percentage and .399 slugging percentage for a club that didn't have a home field, then played 21 Arizona Fall League games (.247/.348/.338). The experience showed him that he needed to hone his hitting approach and become more physical.
This year, he responded with an eye-popping Minor League year. In a combined 119 games at Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque, he slashed .355/.403/.583 with 20 home runs, 39 doubles and 20 triples. The year included a .374 mark at Albuquerque, with 23 doubles, two triples, 14 home runs and 56 RBIs.
Beyond McMahon's bat speed -- his signature trait -- Albuquerque manager Glenallen Hill saw him stay with his preparation. For example, after McMahon joined the big club, he received just 24 regular-season plate appearances in 17 games. Yet he has been demanding of himself in hitting sessions and is studying the more-experienced players.
"This year he was very consistent in his preparation, controlling the things that he can control in terms of what makes him good," Hill said. "It's tough. Not a lot of kids can do it. What helps is we talk about confidence all the time. Players have to feel confident, but at the same time, they have to be able to deal with being good self-evaluators in terms of addressing the things that are going to lend to them being successful at a higher level. They have to stay with the process."
A third baseman out of high school, McMahon has become a multi-position player -- 56 starts at first base, 35 at second and 25 at third this year -- so he can be an option wherever needed.
Lambert, 20, pitched at Lancaster in the California League -- a hitter-oriented circuit -- and finished 9-8 with a 4.17 ERA, which was good for third in the league. His 131 strikeouts ranked fifth, his 142 1/3 innings were fourt, and his 1.24 walks and hits per innings pitched (WHIP) were third.
Committed to UCLA before being drafted and signed, Lambert displays a solid fastball (91-93 mph, with an occasional 96) and changeup -- pitches he had entering pro ball -- and he is making fast progress with a curveball out of his high three-quarter arm motion.
Mark Wiley, the Rockies' director of pitching operations, said Lambert's studious nature is quickening his progress.
"He has a lot of attributes that we really like with a young guy already," Wiley said. "He's got a good head. He sees things other people don't see. He's a sponge. He listens when you're talking to other people so he can hear it. We like Peter a lot."