Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pitching collapses and Rockies' bonanza column

So much for improved pitching.

Drew Pomeranz threw a poor game and Will Harris served up a grand slam and the Rockies, despite scoring eight runs against the Dodgers, lose. Those are games manager Jim Tracy has to shake his head at and look for an antacid.

Pomeranz allowed five runs in four frames and the Rockies didn't score until the seventh inning. Even a seven-run eighth inning by Colorado proved insufficient to win the game.

What does Tracy say in the clubhouse? Eight runs should be enough? Enough for two games? Pomeranz is a rookie but he has to find consistency-of-performance. He has to bring that back next season. That is the expectation and the young Mississippian knows it.

Rockies' Notes

Chris Nelson in midst of career season
Third baseman Chris Nelson banged out three hits to raise his average to .279. He's having a career year.

Let's take a closer look at how he is improving as a player.

In 2012, his numbers are up in hits, extra-base hits, RBI, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging.

Since the start of the 2011 season, Nelson has played in 144 games, almost the equivalent of a full major league season. In that time, he has hit 24 doubles, 10 homers and driven in 50 runs in 408 at-bats, not bad work at all, definitely a step forward in his career and certainly enough to keep him employed.

Four other Rockies' players finished with four hits - Tyler Colvin, Josh Rutledge, Carlos Gonzalez and D.J. LeMahieu.

As stated previously here, Colvin is having his best season too.

Rutledge keeps producing and is hitting .350. I still see a version of Craig Biggio, as a ceiling, when I look at Rutledge. Yes, that's haughty praise for a rookie but like Biggio, Rutledge just is a gamer and extremely talented with the bat. Of course, Biggio is Hall-of-Fame-like quality to me and he played seemingly forever. So yes, Rutledge has a ways to go but he's a player who could have, health permitting,  a long, highly-productive career.

LeMahieu doesn't show much power but he has seized opportunity and now has his batting average up to .297. That Ian Stewart-trade, just judging in the moment, looks like a Dan O'Dowd steal. Wonder if he will receive at least some credit for it from his detractors?

Outfielder Charlie Blackmon was hot for a while at Triple-A but then cooled before being summoned by the Rockies. He's struggling now, hitting but a buck-fifty (.150).

More Rockies' Notes

In this lost season, the Rockies are defining leading candidates for starting roles in 2013. That has been a plus. Rutledge has to be the leading contender to start at second base if Troy Tulowitzki is healthy at short. Colvin should be thought of as an outfield starter to go with Dexter Fowler and Gonzalez, moving Michael Cuddyer to the infield. LeMahieu becomes a backup, a valuable one. Jordan Pacheco, also a valuable backup. Wilin Rosario now looks, with Rutledge, like a foundation piece.

Rockies' Draft Note and Flashback

Russell Wilson chose football
Russell Wilson, the Rockies' fourth-round pick in 2010, dabbled in the system for a while, gave up and played his senior season of college football at the University of Wisconsin after transferring from North Carolina State. After a strong final year as the Badgers quarterback, Wilson was selected in the third round of the NFL draft. Now, as a rookie, he will start for the Seattle Seahawks.

Interesting point - Wilson was drafted as a center fielder. The Rockies didn't get much emotional buy in from Wilson but eighth-rounder Corey Dickerson, also drafted as a center fielder has made up with it by being a superior talent. So maybe Wilson and the Seahawks and Dickerson and the Rockies will one day all benefit. 

Rockies' Prospects Spotlight

Troy Tulowitzki, still on a rehabilitation assignment, homered for Double-A Tulsa earlier this week and now has homered at Triple-A Colorado Springs. Tulo did make a throwing error in the game, though.

Former Rockies' prospect Bruce Billings, who was traded to Oakland last year in the Mark Ellis deal, gave up the home run.

Double-A third baseman Nolan Arenado singled twice and is looking more lately like the talent we expected him to be in 2012. He's hitting well over .300 in August. Look for a better 2013 performance out of him, with some power returning.

Christian Bergman
Christian Bergman, playing for High-A Modesto, has been named the California League pitcher of the year. Bergman showed up on the radar as a prospect last year with outstanding work for Tri-City and continued it this season. He's been banged around at times but his overall body of work has been solid. The question is, will his stuff play at Double-A next season? The Texas League is a better pitchers' league but Bergman also lacks top-end stuff. Will be interesting to follow that story.

Bergman allowed two runs over six innings on Wednesday to win his 16th game of the season. His ERA is 3.65.

Trevor Story
Low-A shortstop Trevor Story had a four-hit night, doubling twice, giving him 41 two-base hits on the season. He's hitting .273.

Story's teammate, Ben Alsup, threw six shutout innings and now has not allowed a run in his last three starts, covering 21 innings. His ERA is down to 3.63.

Seth Willoughby, a 2012 draftee now at Asheville, threw a scoreless inning and Russell Brewer continued his strong relief work this season (2.16 ERA) with a scoreless frame.

Jayson Aquino threw six shutout frames for Grand Junction, lowering his ERA to 1.72. He didn't walk a batter and struck out 5. Batters are only hitting .195 off him and he has a 3/1 K/BB rate. Looking promising, wouldn't you say? Aquino is also only 19-years old.

No comments: