Get to know your O's: Steve Lombardozzi

Duane Burleson

Learn a little bit about the newest addition to Baltimore.

The Camden Chat community has spoken. Last week in an article about Ryan Webb I asked you all to vote on who you would like to learn about this week. With 46% of the vote, the landslide victor was the local boy who made good....

Bio

Name: Stephen Paul Lombardozzi Jr. Number: 12
Born: September 20, 1988 (25 years old) in Fulton, MD
Height: 6'0" Weight: 200 lbs
Bats: Switch Throws: Right
Drafted: 19th round, 2008 by the Washington Nationals
School: Atholton High School (Columbia, MD)
St. Petersburg College (St. Petersburg, FL)
Became an Oriole: Traded by the Detroit Tigers to Baltimore in exchange for infielder Alex Gonzalez
Walk up music: "Barefoot Blue Jean Night" by Jake Owen (same as Matt Wieters)

History

Lombardozzi's father, Steve Sr., is a former Major League Baseball player himself. He played parts of six seasons from 1985 to 1990 with the Minnesota Twins and the Houston Astros, winning the World Series in '87 with Minnesota. The older Lombardozzi now coaches baseball at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Olney, MD.

Steve Jr. broke into the league as a September call-up for the Nationals in 2011. Following that season, Lombardozzi garnered praise for his work in the minors. He was ranked as the Nationals #10 prospect by Baseball America, Washington's best defensive infielder in the minors, and as the best defensive second baseman in the Eastern League.

Notice that there are no accolades for Lombo's bat. A look at his numbers throughout the minors reveals that he has a good, gritty approach at the plate. He tended to have a solid average coming through Washington's system, never hitting less than .283 in a season. However, there was little power to accompany the average. The Maryland native topped out with eight home runs between AA and AAA in his 2011 season.

In 2012, Lombardozzi became a regular on the big league club. In the MLB, the utilityman has failed to find the stroke he had in minor league ball. That first season saw him hit .273 but with an on-base percentage of only .317 with only 16 doubles and three home runs. 2013 was a step backward where Lombardozzi hit just .259 and got on base at a paltry clip of .278.

Following the 2013 season, the Atholton grad was traded to the Detroit Tigers along with minor league pitchersRobbie Ray and Ian Krol in exchange for starting pitcher Doug Fister.

As we know, his stay in Detroit was brief. Lombardozzi did not even finish spring training with the Tigers. He was sent packing to Baltimore. In return, Detroit received veteran journeyman Alex Gonzalez.

Scouting Report

Let's start off with what's good. The switch-hitter does not swing and miss a lot. The average strikeout rate of an MLB player is 18.5%. Lombardozzi has a career strikeout rate of only 11.3%. That's great, in fact. In addition to that he can also use the glove a little bit. As mentioned above, Lombardozzi was a standout at second base in the minors. According to FanGraphs, since becoming a major leaguer he has been slightly above average at second and third base.

Now, the bad....and it can get pretty bad. Though he doesn't strikeout, Lombardozzi doesn't walk either. His career rate is only 3.6%. The league average is 8.5%. That leads to a measly .298 career on-base percentage. On top of that he doesn't have much pop to speak of. Over his career of 720 at-bats there have only been five home runs. His isolated power (ISO) stat speaks volumes. This is the stat many use to determine a players raw power; average is right around .145. The new Oriole carries a career ISO of .076. On the scale, that is referred to as "awful".

There have been a few times that Lombardozzi has played shortstop and the outfield. He has struggled greatly in those spots. His ultimate zone rating (UZR) in the outfield over 422.1 innings is -4.5, at short in 18 innings; -88.9. Both are cringe-worthy numbers considering the average is zero.

What's ahead

Bringing Lombardozzi in was quite a brilliant move by Dan Duquette. Ok, maybe "brilliant" isn't the right word, especially since I just listed off all of his deficiencies. But look at it this way: he flipped a player that was likely going to be cut for a man that cannot become a free agent until 2018 and still has minor league options remaining. The team now has a utilityman, for the forseeable future, in-house, if needed, and got him for basically nothing. But it should tell you something that Detroit was willing to part with him for the much older Gonzalez.

He's being forced into a starting job right now, but he has not shown what it takes to be a long term starter in the bigs. He is capable of playing anywhere on the infield and can do a halfway serviceable job. The problem is at the plate. He has little power and doesn't get on base nearly enough. This season will likely see the local product get plenty of playing time, but unless something clicks, this will be a long campaign in the American League for the 25 year old.

The Orioles need Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy to come back from their injuries as soon as possible. Though some fans may not want to admit it, Ryan Flaherty is a better option than Lombardozzi.

Please let me know down in the comments who you want to "get to know" next week. Do you prefer to continue on with newer O's? Would you prefer to check out some of the fan favorites?

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