Christian Friedrich got a nifty $1,350,000 signing bonus for inking a deal with the Rockies yesterday. I'm sure he'll have a lot of cousins come out of the woodwork now.
Colorado Springs: W 3-2
Mark Redman pitched very very well for seven innings, allowing just seven hits, zero walks and striking out nine. Redman has been having troubles with hanging mistake pitches this season, but only two of the hits went for extra bases last night, which is a very good sign. Troy Tulowitzki singled, walked and stole a base in three AB's, Jayson Nix hit his eleventh homerun and also singled. Nix also somewhat remarkably had his first error in 41 minor league games this season off a wild throw while playing third for the first time.
Tulsa: W 4-3
Alan Johnson had his fourth consecutive quality start, pitching 6 2/3 innings and allowing three runs. Here are some of the important numbers split by month for Johnson:
That second K/PA row is easily the biggest indicator of a turnaround or breakthrough this month, and while last night was probably his least effective start of June, with just three K's and four extra base hits allowed, there wasn't a clear sign of a backslide. I'm looking particularly at the 15/10 GB/FB (60%) ratio of balls put into play as evidence he's still operating at a higher performance level than he was at the start of the season. Matt Miller drove in three of the Drillers four runs with a double and single. This is just an educated guess, but I'm willing to bet that Miller leads the system in multiple hit games this year, passing Darin Holcomb in this last month. Seven out of Miller's last ten games have seen him get two or more hits.
Modesto: W 3-0
Yesterday I touched a little on the difficulties of ranking right-handed starting pitching in the system, as the polish of pitchers like Johnson doesn't necessarily figure to translate into success at the MLB level. With our left handers, there are similar issues, but with fewer choices the decisions are made much easier. Christian Friedrich instantly rises to at least #2 on our LHP list, and possibly #1 depending on how permanent one feels Franklin Morales' current struggles are. It's a tough call after that, as you have Keith Weiser, who pitched a complete game shutout for the Nuts last night, and Xavier Cedeno of the Drillers who each have their strong points as well as their weaknesses. Given last night's Tri-City game, Kenny Durst seems like he needs consideration as well. Left handed starters had been a serious system weakness heading into the season, but has gotten a bit stronger this season, even with Morales' dropping off that cliff.
Weiser seems like a likely candidate to need some adjustment time in AA next season, similarly to Brandon Hynick and Alan Johnson did this season, and ultimately he's going to have to paint the black consistently to be successful at the MLB level.
Tri-City: L 0-1
The Dust-Devils couldn't put together a decent rally in support of Durst, who pitched five and two-thirds innings and struck out nine. The offense was certainly frustrating, starting with the top of the first when Scott Robinson doubled and Charlie Blackmon singled to put runners on first and third with none out before three consecutive strikeouts killed the threat. The only other time the Dust Devils managed to get a runner into scoring position was the sixth, when Jordan Pacheco walked and Josh Banda singled for a first and second situation with one out. Pacheco then got picked off of second, and then a couple of pitches later, Banda was picked off first.
Casper: L 6-11
Part of why this post is so late today has been because I've been trying to figure out who exactly Nick Valdez is. He went three for four yesterday with a homerun, and besides the three hits by James Sims added was pretty much the lone highlight for the Ghosts. Valdez, 22 from Pima Arizona, played a little in the Atlantic League last season after being released by the Diamondbacks on year ago yesterday. You can see a picture of him at this blog. He never actually played a game with the D-backs organization, however, so his debut yesterday in affiliated minor league baseball went smashingly.