Sunday, September 16, 2012

Prospect ranking lists coming this weekend

This weekend you'll start seeing prospect rankings for all the Rockies minor league teams.

Soon, the prospects of the year, hitter and pitcher will be named as well.

Please check back this weekend.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Home offense and Rockies' Q & A on pitching prospects

Chris Nelson building resume in 2012
Back-home cooking is good to the Rockies as they outscore the Giants 6-5.

The offense was back and while the team surrendered some runs it got a sufficiently-strong start from Alex White and enough juice from the lineup to go to bed a winner.

Chris Nelson, the Rockies' no. 1 pick in 2004, has seemed to have nine lives, as in his play hardly warranted the club's faith in him but he has finally started to show his development wasn't stunted or dead. While he has struggled with defense this season there is at least some bat production now.

Nelson now has a career-high 265 at-bats and he's doing something with them, with 26 extra-base hits (15 doubles, 3 triples and 8 homers) and 43 RBI. That "punch" has been missing until 2012.

The Rockies have waited a long time on him.

Last night, playing third base for Colorado, he tripled home a run.

Rookie Josh Rutledge remains productive, doubling in a run. He now has 26 extra-base hits in only 184 at-bats. His slugging percentage is a take-notice .560.

Tyler Colvin added another double in his best pro season and White had quite the night, homering and allowing only one run in four acceptable innings. He allowed six hits and a homer to whom else - Buster Posey - who really likes Colorado pitching (a career .365 hitter).

Rockies' Pitching Prospects Q & A with Ben Badler, Baseball America

In Tyler Anderson (no. 1 pick in 2011) and Eddie Butler (selected no. 47 overall in 2012) the Rockies have have two starting pitchers performing at a high level this season. Rockies' Analyst Magazine spoke to Ben Badler of Baseball America to get greater depth of insight on these two prospects.

Tyler Anderson
The 22-year old Anderson, a lefthander from the University of Oregon has posted a 2.47 ERA in 20 starts, while Butler posted a 7-1 mark with a 2.13 ERA, giving up but one homer.

RAM: Anderson and Butler have both excelled in 2012. What is your initial impression of these two in their debut seasons. 

Badler: They’ve both pitched well. I wouldn’t call them similar pitchers, but they both throw strikes and keep the ball on the ground with heavy fastballs. If you have a lively fastball and you fill up the strike zone, you’re usually going to have success at the lower levels of the minors, and that’s exactly what Anderson and Butler have done.

RAM: Both have finished strong with Anderson going 6-1 with a 1.61 ERA in his last 10 starts and Butler going 6-1 with a 1.69 ERA in his last 10 starts. Neither one of these two are considered having elite "stuff" yet are showing the ability to pitch, get batters out and minimize traffic from scoring. How are they getting it done? 

Badler: The fastball has been key for both of them. With Anderson, you’ve got a guy who can sink and run the ball at 87-93 mph and he spots it very well for a pitcher in Low-A.

Eddie Butler
Butler will show you more velocity, but again, he’s another guy who is throwing strikes with the pitch. When you’re sitting 92-94 mph with heavy life and getting it up to 97, as long as you’re throwing strikes, that’s usually enough to be effective against Pioneer League hitters.

RAM: Both are in the low levels of the minors. Neither overwhelms batters with strikeouts. How do you see Anderson and Butler holding up as they move up the minor league food chain, as in levels of play?

Badler: Neither guy misses a lot of bats. That’s going to create problems when they get to higher levels, especially starting at Double-A. They throw strikes and they can sink their fastballs, but neither guy has a true out pitch. Anderson’s changeup is an effective pitch against hitters at the lower levels, but he really doesn’t have the arsenal to rack up many strikeouts, even against South Atlantic League hitters. Butler might be able to bring along the slider, but he too is going to have to rely more on sink and groundballs rather than missing bats, which is a tough profile.

RAM: Have a professional or gut feeling on not only how to profile these two Ben but also on which pitcher might be the better prospect in scouts or your estimation?

Badler: There are some scouts who see Anderson having No. 3 starter upside, but there are plenty of others who think the ceiling is more of a back-end starter. I think there’s a chance he’s a back-end starter, but there’s just not a lot of margin for error with him, so a lot of things will have to go right for him to hit that top-end projection. He has a better chance to stick as a starter than Butler, but overall, I’d still take Butler.

I’m not convinced Butler has a deep enough repertoire to start, but if you put him in the bullpen, the fastball is going to sit consistently in the mid-90s, and there’s a chance the slider plays up a tick if he can throw it more power and continue to refine the pitch.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Offensive failings continue to cost Colorado

The Rockies are a poor pitching team but they are losing games on the road because they are not hitting outside of Coors' Field.

Two 1-0 losses at Atlanta and two 3-2 losses at Philadelphia shows the Rockies are failing offensively.

When your pitchers are keeping you in the game against Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels you have to capitalize and find ways to scrape together enough runs to steal games.

The Rockies just aren't doing it.

Prospects' Preview

Coming this week will be an interview about two of the hotter pitching prospects in the Rockies' organization. Look for it.

Also coming soon will be season-ending prospect lists and rankings.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Rockies blanked again despite effective pitching

Tim Hudson befuddles Rockies except for one
Even when the poor-pitching Rockies throw the ball well they lose, at least in Atlanta where Colorado drops the final two games of the series by identical 1-0 scores.

Jhoulys Chacin didn't show his best self Thursday as he was peppered for seven hits and walked three in 3 1/3 innings, surrendering one unearned run but that mess and that run cost him and his team the game after Tim Hudson seven shutout innings for the Braves and three relievers finished off the Rockies.

Charlie Blackmon
On a night when the lineup could not dent Hudson or his pals for a run, former Georgia Tech player Charlie Blackmon went 4-for-4 for Colorado.

Rockies' Prospects Spotlight

Josh Outman
Josh Outman threw seven shutout innings for Double-A Tulsa in the Texas League playoffs.

Outman recorded an ERA of 9.00 in 31 innings with the Rockies earlier this season but his ERA in his last three starts is an eye-popping 0.79.

One night after Nolan Arenado homered, another solid Driller hitting prospect Corey Dickerson homered.

One game after High-A pitcher Christian Bergman went seven innings, allowing three runs in the California League playoffs for Modesto, starter Josh Mueller could not get out of the second inning, giving up four runs in 1 1/3 frames.

Outfielder Rafael Ortega, however, was hot again, homering for the second time in the series, finishing 3-for-3 and bumping his series' average to .714.

Star prospect David Dahl
At Grand Junction, outfielder Carl Thomore, who has struggled since drafted in 2011, had three hits Wednesday. On Thursday, outfielder David Dahl, who has dominated since being drafted in June, hit two homers and finished with three hits.

On the season, Dahl, in 67 games is hitting .379 with 22 doubles, 10 triples, nine homers and 57 RBI.

Question - is Dahl the best first-year prospect the organization has ever had? Weigh in if you so choose.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Rockies get pitching in Atlanta to beat Braves

Four Rockies' pitchers combined to knock out the Braves Tuesday, beating Atlanta at their own game.

Drew Pomeranz, Carlos Torres, Rex Brothers and Matt Belisle allowed nine hits but somehow still shut out the Braves on the road. Those pitchers only walked one and struck out 10.

Catcher Wilin Rosario looked impressive in throwing out two runners.

Needless to say, defensively, the Rockies had it working.

First baseman Jordan Pacheco homered and drove in two runs and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez homered and doubled.

Prospects' Note

Once the playoffs are completed in the minors, I will be putting together postseason prospect reports of many kinds and rankings as well. Please check back continually for those.

Interview Preview

Working on securing an interview for a Rockies' pitching prospect comparison I think you'll like. Look for that story later this week.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Medlen overpowers Rockies and Arenado hot

Tyler Chatwood was awful. So awful. Awfulness to an exponential degree. But it didn't matter much.

Kris Medlen blows through Rockies' lineup
Chatwood walked five in three innings, gave up six runs, five earned, in a terrible effort but he would have had to be nearly perfect to help his team anyway.

Braves' starter Kris Medlen was overpowering as he confused and embarrassed Rockies' batters by striking out 12, walking none and giving up just one unearned run in a complete-game domination.

Once Chatwood was yanked the Rockies threw five innings of scoreless baseball, striking out seven, walking none and giving up just two hits.

The Rockies traditionally struggle with the Braves. Depending on how you look at it, they either have three more opportunities to beat Atlanta at home or three more dreaded trips to the diamond.

Today it's Drew Pomeranz against Tommy Hanson, two talented pitchers taking the mound. Neither is yet pitching up to their capability.

Rockies' Prospects Spotlight

Triple-A outfielder Matt McBride doubled twice and now has 42 of them on the season. His season batting average - .344. He's played at a high level all season and even saw the field with the Rockies.

Nolan Arenado
Third baseman Nolan Arenado doubled twice for Double-A Tulsa and has 36 now for the Drillers. He finished with three more hits as he continues his strong rush to the end of the season.

Just how hot is the Rockies' top hitting prospect? He smoked Texas League pitching in August, hitting .358. In September he's elevated that effectiveness, hitting .429.

Arenado will be remembered more for how he finished than his overall year, which was not quite as productive (12 homers, 56 RBI) as expected.

Grand Junction pitcher Jayson Aquino, a 19-year old Dominican, allowed three runs, two earned over 6 2/3 innings. His ERA rose to a still-impressive 1.87. He walked one, struck out six. He knows how to pitch, having excelled in the Dominican Summer League and making the early transition to the United States very well.

Grand Junction outfielder Max White was a second-round draft pick in June out of a Florida high school. As good as first-rounder and fellow prep outfielder David Dahl (.373 average) has been, White has been that bad, hitting under .200 and looking entirely lost at the plate. On Monday, however, he tripled twice, went 3-for-3 and drove in four runs.

White bumped his average to .201 with his stellar day.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Rockies hot bats save bad pitching

The Rockies allowed 20 hits Saturday and still won.

Maybe it was because Rockies' pitchers walked only one and they and their fielders stranded 19 Padres on the basepaths.

Didn't hurt either that the Rockies plated 11 runners. 

While it's a fun day at the park and a nice movie ending it's not a script for consistent winning.

Dexter Fowler, Chris Nelson and Tyler Colvin continued their career-best seasons and Jordan Pacheco is still hitting too. 

Fowler has justified the faith that Dan O'Dowd has in him, Nelson likely saved his job in Denver and Colvin has seized the opportunity granted and will come to spring training expected to start in 2013. Pacheco is not the ideal bat for the positions he plays but what a valuable reserve (who plays a lot) he can become.

Fowler finished with three hits and two RBI, Nelson (3 RBI) and Colvin homered (2 RBI) and Pacheco drove in two runs. 

The Rockies sit Wilin Rosario and his 23 homers and guess what? Ramon Hernandez homers. 

That's "living right" Jim Tracy.

Jeff Francis and Adam Ottavino were plain stinking bad, giving up eight runs over 6 1/3 innings, but the Rockies held on for the victory by allowing only one more run after the terrible twosome departed.

The Rockies have now won 17 of their last 26 games.

Monday Rockies' Notes 

Colorado starts a seven-game road trip Monday that will take them to Atlanta and Philadelphia.

The Rockies have rarely played well against the Braves over the years and Atlanta is still competing for a playoff spot.

The Rockies, however, have confidence and youth that doesn't know about the past. 

Should be an interesting series.

Rockies' Prospects Spotlight

Huston Street was sent to San Diego to clear salary off the books. In return, the Rockies also received prospect Nick Schmidt. The big lefty delivered Sunday, allowing one unearned run over seven innings.

He's capable of that kind of performance, has pitched strongly at times but the other truth is his ERA at Triple-A is 5.68. Robust.

I don't "buy" him as a starter at the big-league level outside of spot starts. However, as a bullpen arm, I believe he still has value. Shorten him up and refine his pitches and he could make it and stick at the highest level of competition.

Brandon Hynick threw seven shutout innings at Double-A Tulsa to lower his ERA to a shiny 2.11 in 12 starts.

So what's the problem?  Why is he still in the Texas League?

In five games, four of them starts at Triple-A earlier in the season his ERA was 7.29.

My point? Be careful how much you value the 27-year-old Hynick at this point.

Ryan Warner, a Colorado prep drafted by the Rockies in June, threw four scoreless, walk-less innings for Grand Junction, striking out five.

His season ERA is 7.00, a big number, but Sunday night showed there is talent there too for the tall, lanky Coloradoan.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Ace effort by Chacin and Rockies notes

Jhoulys Chacin looking like an ace
Jhoulys Chacin is healthy and maybe better than ever.

Chacin held San Diego to three runs over seven innings to pitch Colorado to a 9-1 home victory. The righthander has now had three starts since returning from injury and has an ERA of 1.50 in them.

He looks like the ace this team desperately wants and needs.

His control, which has been an issue, is much improved, with only 4 walks in his last 18 innings.

Still only 24-years old, Chacin can have a bright future if healthy and able to control his pitches. There's no doubting his talent.

Rockies' Notes

Dexter Fowler
Dexter Fowler had but one hit Saturday and struck out twice on the night but he smacked a grand slam, his 13th homer of the season. Fowler is hitting far fewer doubles this season but his home run power and RBI production is better and his batting average are easily the best it's ever been, as in 40 points higher (.306) than his career average (.266).

Rookie Josh Rutledge had three more hits and bumped his average to .353. He's either playing fantasy camp baseball or he's a star-in-the-making. I have my beliefs. You decide yours.

Tyler Colvin doubled and homered and continues his career year too. He now has 20 doubles, 16 homers, nine triples and 61 RBI while hitting .294. He's done this in 327 at-bats so his efficiency has been as strong as his effectiveness, yes?

Sunday Notes

Can Francis break trend vs. Padres?
Jeff Francis takes the hill for Colorado on Sunday. His season ERA is 5.44, his Coors' ERA this year is 6.17 and his career ERA against the Padres is 5.52 in 133 2/3 innings. Spells doom. Or does it?

Francis just threw five shutout frames at home against the Dodgers in his last outing.

Opposing Francis will be rookie Casey Kelley, who makes his second start. He threw six shutout innings against the Braves in his MLB debut.

Rockies' Prospects Spotlight

Second baseman Charlie Culberson, who came to the Rockies in the Marco Scutaro trade with the Giants, had four hits Saturday for Triple-A Colorado Springs.

The 24-year old Culberson is hitting but .295 at altitude and not showing much power (nine doubles, 2 homers) or plate discipline (1 walk/18 strikeouts).
Nolan Arenado

Outfielder Corey Dickerson struck out three times but homered (#13 at Tulsa, #22 on the season) at Double-A and third baseman Nolan Arenado singled three times. Arenado is red-hot now, hitting .358 in August.

Joe Gardner threw seven shutout innings and didn't walk a batter for the Drillers. Talk about hot, he has a 1.67 ERA over his last 43 innings.

Jared Clark now has 24 homers and 95 RBI at High-A Modesto but has a .239 batting average and is old for his league. That said, he has been productive.

High-A pitcher Tyler "Box of Chocolates" Matzek, threw six shutout innings, walking two for Modesto.

Follow this, if you can - before the All-Star break, Matzek (first-round pick, 2009) had an ERA of 3.24 in 14 starts. Since then, his ERA has been 6.15.

His ERA in August is 5.82 and yet in two of his last three starts (13 combined innings) he's thrown shutout ball.

He remains a high risk-high reward, volatile stock.