The Coors Effect

June 3, 2010 4:36 PM

Minors update: June

We're a third of the way through the major league season, but with the shorter minor league seasons, we're a little more than that through the minor league seasons (at least, from A-ball on up; the short season and rookie leagues won't start until later this month.)  So how are the Rockies' farmhands doing this season?

Colorado Springs Sky Sox: 24-28, 3rd place, PCL Pacific North; 3 GB

The Sky Sox offense ranks third in the PCL in runs scored, though that has as much to do with their home park as with any offensive talent they have.  They're fourth in the league in OPS, but just seventh in home runs.  First baseman Brad Eldred is crushing the ball, hitting .289 with 13 homers and 12 doubles.  But Eldred, who turns 30 in July, has never seen his production carry forward to the majors in the past; he morphs into a .220ish hitter with some power, and he's limited to first base, so don't expect to see him in the bigs unless Helton gets hurt.  Catcher Michael McKenry (.313/.392/.452) is having a solid year with the bat and is a viable option if either Olivo or Iannetta gets hurt.  Outfielders Matt Miller (.296/.374/.409) and Cole Garner (.299/.382/.537) are doing well, but again, they're not really going to supplant anyone any time soon.  The Sky Sox seem to mostly have a bunch of AAAA types on offense, and Security Service Field (and the PCL in general) is inflating some of the numbers.  The one true offensive prospect, shortstop Chris Nelson, is struggling.  A .734 OPS at Colorado Springs is not good.

The pitchers, with a 5.50 ERA (15th in the PCL), are not good.  The home park has something to do with this, but so, too, do callups (Jhoulys Chacin, Esmil Rogers) and injuries (Samuel Deduno.)  Chaz Roe (2-7, 7.32) has been bad, though his control is good; luck separates him from Alan Johnson (4-2, 2.98), who has similar peripherals.  Outside of Matt Reynolds (0-2, 2.03), the bullpen has not been good.  Esmil Rogers and Greg Smith can help the Rockies this season, and Chaz Roe might be a decent prospect for the future (though he's not showing it.)  Reynolds could be a pretty good reliever if the Rockies give him a shot.

Tulsa Drillers: 21-28, 3rd place, Texas League North; 9 GB

The offense, dead last in the Texas League in runs, has been awful.  Catcher Wilin Rosario (.273/.326/.515) is actually having a solid year with the bat, but the other prospects here have not: Hector Gomez is hurt, while Kiel Roling is struggling mightily (.220/.263/.320.)  Scott Beerer was a nice story heading into the season, but his performance (.250/.273/.280) has not been good.  This just isn't a good offense, though it might get better with Charlie Blackmon returning from the DL.

The pitching -- tied for fifth in ERA -- has been better than the offense (not that that's saying much), but it isn't great.  Top prospect Christian Friedrich's strikeout rate is down a bit, though it's still at a batter an inning -- the real problems are that his walk rate is up considerably, and his groundball rate is down.  That's leading to some fairly ugly numbers (0-3, 4.76.)  Keith Weiser (3-3, 2.84) and Bruce Billings (4-3, 2.95) are doing well, but their peripherals aren't good, although both are getting grounders (suggesting the Drillers' infield defense might be pretty good.)  Still, this team isn't going to be good if they're not scoring runs.

Modesto Nuts: 28-23, 2nd place, Cal League North; 4 GB

Finally, a Rockies affiliate that's doing pretty well.  The Nuts are sixth in runs scored, though that's in part a reflection on Modesto not being quite as good an offensive environment as some of the other parks in the league, and they're third in OPS.  Catcher Jordan Pacheco and infielders Jimmy Cesario and Thomas Field are all over .900 OPS, though all three are questionable prospects -- they're all a bit old for this league, and Cesario and Field weren't that good last year at Asheville.  First baseman Ben Paulsen is hitting for average but not a lot of power (.319/.353/.430).  David Christensen (.208/.333/.292) is nearing the end of the line as a prospect; he just hasn't figured out how to stop hacking away (43 K's in 106 AB.)  Still, though, there's not a lot to complain about with Modesto's offense.

Modesto's pitchers are tied for the league lead in K/9, and fourth in ERA -- both good marks.  Ethan Hollingsworth (5-3, 2.57) has been excellent.  Juan Nicasio (3-3, 4.85) hasn't been great, but his strong peripherals suggest he's been getting unlucky.

Asheville Tourists: 23-29, 5th place, SAL South; 9 GB

Asheville's hitters are tied for being the oldest in the league, and they have the best home park for hitters in the league, so the fact that they're just fifth in runs is a little sad (though they're second in OPS.)  Eliezer Mesa (.342/.403/.513) is having a strong year with the bat, and Nolan Arenado (.380/.414/.560) is off to a hot start since getting called up from extended spring training.  Jared Clark (.277/.388/.488) has good power, but strikes out a ton.

On the mound, there's Tyler Matzek and a bunch of iffy prospects.  Wes Musick (5-3, 4.82) could be the best of the bunch, though Juan Gonzalez (2-1, 3.14) has potential.  Chris Balcom-Miller (0-1, 2.55) debuted late due to an injury, but he's a solid prospect.  Chad Rose (3-2, 2.51) is an interesting relief prospect.

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