Tagged: Minor Leagues

Rockies 5, Pirates 3

Well, I caught the highlights on ESPNews after returning home from Colorado Springs. Todd Helton hits game-winner in extras! Jack Wilson makes outlandish shovel-scoop relay play! That was all they showed. It was a good night for highlights, however, as the Cardinals beat the Cubs on an 11th-inning squeeze play and the Rangers-Athletics game ended up being decided by a footrace. Glancing at the Colorado box score real quickly to make sure I don’t overlook anything, I see that Helton and Matt Holliday were the stars with multhit games and a homer apiece. The 6-7-8 spots were ice cold with only one Luis Gonzalez single in 13 AB’s. Jamey Wright had one of his not uncommon good road starts. Brian Fuentes blew a save but also struck out three guys and vultured the win.

My evening in Colorado Springs was fun. Mike Esposito pitched for the SkySox. He could be a minor league legend one day, but I doubt he’s ever going to amount to much in the majors. He has no stuff to speak of. In contrast Tacoma’s Clint Nageotte, a prospect whom I’ve been hearing about for seemingly forever, still can’t throw his marvel of a slider for strikes. Colorado Springs’ bullpen made it more exciting than it needed to be thanks to Bobby Seay. You know about him. What is it about me and baseball games at altitude that when I go out to the ballpark, a 2-1 pitchers’ duel always ends up breaking out?

Omar Quintanilla and Jeff Salazar didn’t do much that I saw. J.J. Davis made some solid contact. Tacoma’s Jamal Strong made a couple of fine plays in center, which is in keeping with what I was led to believe about him by my prospect books. Ryan Speier looked good, better than Seay anyway. I have the sinking feeling that the two best hitters at AAA for the Rockies are Spilborghs and Shealy, both well and truly blocked.

Jeff Pickler on the other hand is the kind of player you only see in the minors, a slap-hitting second baseman with an odd tendency to double-clutch on routine ground balls and a strangely nonchalant lefthanded batting stance. He holds the bat loosely against his chest until after the pitcher begins his delivery. It looks, for all the world, like Barry Bonds. Except Pickler is a skinny white guy who is generously listed at 5’10". The fans seem to love him though.

2005 Draft

Well, the draft is underway as we speak. So far the Rockies have taken Long Beach State shortstop Troy Tulowitzki #7, Winthrop outfielder Daniel Carte #52, and a brace of extremely young righthanders (Chaz Roe #32,  Zachary Simons #55, and Kyle Hancock #87). Luke Hochevar’s contract demands proved too rich for Colorado’s blood and the pitcher went to the Dodgers at #40.

The draft is fun to watch, it moves much faster than the NBA or NFL drafts even if you have never heard of any of the guys getting picked. This is probably a product of baseball not allowing trades of draft picks. As far as the Rockies go, I would certainly like to see them add some pitching talent that is closer to the big leagues in the later rounds. At some point their development system has to link up with the positives they’re running out there now.

You can read some more about the top picks in the draft at MLB.com…Purple Row knows way more about this stuff than I…the Post correctly predicted Tulowitzki as first pick…Baseball America has capsule descriptions of the top 200 prospects.

In-Game Prospect Update

Today is "Interactive Tuesday" on Fox Sports Rocky Mountain, which means when they get around to it the announcers answer e-mail questions from we lowly viewers. Apparently they’re not getting around to my question about why we would have Clint sacrifice, ever, but they did in the top of the third rattle off a number of prospect names upon receiving an obligatory "But will the Rockies ever be any good?" query. As my gift to you, here’s the deal so far on these future purple pinstriped people-eaters:

  • Ian Stewart is probably the Rockies’ most notorious prospect, a 2003 first-round pick ranked #1 in the system by Baseball America. He’s a third baseman who hits lots and lots of homers. Stewart got a late start this year due to a strained hamstring; he has yet to catch fire for high-A Modesto.
  • Scott Dohmann we already saw briefly here in Denver. He did not acquit himself well by allowing 14 runs in 6 2/3 with the big club. He’s returned to Colorado Springs to try and recover from his whiplash. Very early returns are good as he has yet to allow a run in two appearances.
  • Choo Freeman has also been seen wearing a Rockies uniform on occasion. This marks his third year in AAA, which is a very poor sign indeed. He is hitting a crisp .333/.405/.533 with 4 homers and 3 stolen bases for the SkySox, but it looks like the dreaded quadruple-A label has already been stamped upon his forehead. Sullivan, Hawpe, and Holliday have long passed him by anyway.
  • Chris Nelson is a bit of a mystery. A shortstop John Sickels calls the "complete package" and BA ranks second in the organization only to Stewart, Nelson is hitting only .100/.091/.200 in 6 games at low-A Asheville. Despite spending some time scouring the web for evidence of injury, I couldn’t find any — just a similarly confused entry on Purple Row. Something has to be up, the guy raked to the tune of .347/.432/.510 last year in Casper.
  • News is better for Nelson’s Tourists teammate, Samuel Deduno. The righty starter has a 1.27 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 28 1/3 so far. Those numbers speak for themselves. To ask anyway for a second opinion, I turn to Sickels: "A year from now, he may be regarded as one of the best pitching prospects in the game, if he can sharpen his command a little. Too bad he pitches for the Rockies."
  • Jeff Baker saw some time earlier in the year with the parent club while Garrett Atkins was on the disabled list. He’s a third baseman by trade but may need to find a new occupation if Atkins continues to hit. He didn’t do much for Colorado (.211/.302/.395 in 12 games) and will likely see some time at second and in the outfield for Colorado Springs.
  • Finally, Jeff Salazar is a lefthanded-hitting centerfielder. His numbers at AA Tulsa aren’t much of much: .263/.343/.379. Someone also needs to tell Salazar he’s not a base stealer, as he’s been caught four times versus only three safe attempts this season. The Rockies have a lot of outfield prospects to look at; Salazar needs to hit more if he’s going to stand out in the crowd.

Well, I have to say, that was probably more fun than directing my full attention towards the game, which is showing every indication now of finishing with Trevor Hoffman’s 399th save. Prove me wrong, Colorado! Prove me wrong!