August 19, 2008 8:45 PM
2008 Rockies minor league team by team review
Colorado Springs Sky Sox
What went right: Ian Stewart quickly re-established himself as a top tier prospect and used it as a vault to a successful run in the big leagues. Joe Koshansky and Jayson Nix haven't seen the same success at the major league level, but there's no questioning their value in Sky Sox uniforms. Steven Register returned from being picked in the Rule 5 draft by the Mets to dominate out of the bullpen and make his brief, one out MLB debut on August 4th. While roster maneuvers have sent him back to the Springs for now, Register (along with Juan Morillo) appears to still be on solid footing for an MLB relief career.
What went wrong: Sky Sox starting pitching prospects have had their ups and downs. While the high octane PCL will make a complete evaluation of the performances of prospects Franklin Morales, Jason Hirsh, Greg Reynolds and Sean Smith a little difficult, it's clear that none have excelled to a degree that shows they are ready for full time MLB action. This could be a setback for the Rockies 2009 plans if none of the four start showing additional progress or off season steps forward in their development.
Best Prospect: Stewart
Prospects to watch in 2009: Dexter Fowler seems almost a 50/50 bet at this point whether he starts 2009 with the Sky Sox or Rockies, but he may see some signigicant time at Colorado Springs anyway if he doesn't adjust well to the MLB. Of course watching for rebounds from the starting staff will be very important as well.
What went right: Dexter Fowler finally had the breakout season many have been expecting since he was signed in 2004 and will likely be considered one of the top 20 prospects in all of baseball heading into 2009. Casey Weathers showed tremendous stuff through his first full season, and with improved fastball command should be on pace to make an MLB debut next season.
What went wrong: Poor defensive work and too many homeruns allowed by the pitching staff early were enough to knock the Drillers to the bottom of the pack in the Texas League. A late recovery has left them in a little better shape, but questions around the pitching staff remain. Middle infielders Chris Nelson and Eric Young Jr. both suffered broken wrist/hand bones, delaying their development.
Best Prospect: Fowler.
Prospects to watch in 2009: Jhoulys Chacin, but also keep an eye on a handful of talented players likely to repeat at Tulsa to start the season. Chris Nelson, Chaz Roe and Brandon Hynick shouldn't be disregarded.
What went right: An offensive renaissance and the arrival of Jhoulys Chacin fueled a second half run that will likely land the Nuts a playoff spot if they can hold their current position. Michael McKenry, Daniel Mayora and Michael Paulk have recovered from a poor start to the season to re-establish their prospect credentials. The Nuts rotation showed promise even before Chacin arrived, with Keith Weiser earning a promotion to Tulsa and strong performances from Aneury Rodriguez and Esmil Rogers.
What went wrong: As with Tulsa, there have been some fielding issues that might make the pitchers' numbers look worse than they should although most reports say this too has been improved in the second half. Injuries derailed what seemed to have been shaping out to be a quality rebound season from outfielder Cole Garner, but he should be a position player to watch at Tulsa next season as well as those mentioned above.
Best Prospect: Chacin. Rodriguez or McKenry have been the best to play the full season here
Prospect to watch in 2009: Hector Gomez will likely have to start in Modesto after recovering from TJ surgery, it will be nice for Nuts fans to finally see his potential. Christian Friedrich may skip to this level to begin and at the very least should pass through Modesto at some point next season.
What went right: Jhoulys Chacin blew out of the gates and never looked back, racing to a 10-2 SAL record before being called up to Modesto. Beginning of the year rotation mates Connor Graham, Cory Riordan and Bruce Billings all had successful years and with the addition of first round pick Christian Friedrich, should give Modesto another season of solid pitching in 2009. Darin Holcomb excelled among the position players, earning praise for his contact skills and ability to hit use the whole field while hitting.
What went wrong: While Holcomb excelled at contact, he didn't have much company, as Asheville hitters have racked up a league leading 1116 K's this season. Second baseman Everth Cabrera is five strikeouts away from being the sixth Tourist to pass the 100 K mark, leading the way is 2007 second round pick Brian Rike with 148.
Best Prospect: Chacin
Prospects to watch in 2009: Friedrich might start in Asheville in 2009, or he may skip straight to Modesto, so safer picks would be Charlie Blackmon and Scott Robinson from Tri-City, and Wilin Rosario from Casper.
What went right: A terrific debut by Christian Friedrich and solid play by outfielders Scott Robinson and Charlie Blackmon, as well as infielders Thomas Field and Patrick Rose has given some reason for encouragement. Starters Jonnathan Aristil, Kenny Durst and Parker Frazier have also thrown well, as has closer Austin Chambliss.
What went wrong: Juan Nicasio has had his moments, particularly at the start of the season, but has lacked consistency and command for most of the rest of it and has struggled to a 4.41 ERA, worst among Dust Devil starters. There have been several bullpen collapses and the offense outside of the four mentioned above and catcher Johnny Bowden has been mostly silent.
Best Prospect: Friedrich
Prospects to watch in 2009: It's looking right now like Carlos Martinez and Eliezer Mesa might be Tri-City bound. Of course, this should be a destination for most of the more refined 2009 draft picks as well.
What went right: A breakout by catcher Wilin Rosario and to a lesser degree, Carlos Martinez, shows that the Rockies Latin American program still works as an active pipeline. Jeff Fischer, Dan Houston and Matt Baugh have been solid in the rotation, and the relief work of Kyle Walker, Kurt Yacko and Adam Jorgenson has given the Ghosts a shutdown option. Kiel Roling was also having a fine debut at the plate before being shut down by injury.
What went wrong: The team lags at the bottom of the Pioneer League in runs scored, as Rosario is currently the only consistent power threat in the lineup.
Best Prospect: Rosario
Prospects to watch in 2009: Both Delta Cleary and Tyler Massey will have one more year of refinement in a league that's probably a little over their head right now. Watch for breakouts from either of them.
Team USA: Dexter Fowler's latest journal entry talks about his experiences in Beijing, this was submitted before his big three hit performance this morning to help lead the team to the medal round. Casey Weathers has also played a major role for the Americans out of the bullpen, and news today was positive that Jayson Nix might be able to return to the team if it advances in the medal round.
Colorado Springs: Koshansky has hit thirty homeruns (28 in AAA, 2 in the MLB) for the third time in the last four seasons, but this would be the first professional time he'll crack the .300 batting average barrier if he can maintain or improve upon his current .302 pace.
Tulsa: Chris Nelson has turned the heat up his last ten games and is finally showing some signs that his bat hasn't completely disappeared this year. Nelson's batting .324 with five doubles over that span.
Modesto: The Nuts maintain a three game lead over Bakersfield for the final California League wild card playoff spot, four games over Visalia. Aneury Rodriguez has bounced back with two fine starts, going 13 1/3 innings, striking out 15, and giving up just 5 runs total in the two games.
Asheville: With a promotion, Friedrich will be joining the Tourists staff this week after dominating in Tri-City to help the Tourists with their stretch run and playoffs. Giants prospect Madison Bumgarner has overtaken Jhoulys Chacin in two of three SAL pitching triple crown categories since Chacin's promotion to Modesto, the one exception has been in strikeouts. That lead is currently held by the Tourists' Cory Riordan who has 147 to Bumgarner's 145. Bumgarner's Augusta team plays Asheville the final week of the season in a series that could determine the winner of that regular season battle, but the two teams seem likely to meet in the playoffs as well. Asheville has signed a four year extension with the Rockies that will keep it in the system through the 2012 season.
Tri-City: Charlie Blackmon has a seven game hit streak, batting .400 with three doubles and a triple over the last week.
Casper: The Ghosts played just three games this past week, with an entire weekend series being soaked out (I phrase it that way because apparently just a couple of the games were lost due to rain, and a couple more to wet grounds) before the team was able to resume play in last night's 7-3 loss. The situation resulted in an unusual apology from the team's General Manager, Matthew Warneke, posted on the Ghosts website.