Friday Pebble Report: How good is Chris Balcom-Miller?

Casper: W 3-1

Chris Balcom-Miller pitched a complete, seven inning game, allowing just two hits and a run (his season ERA actually went up because of that single run) one walk, and struck out nine. He had eleven groundouts to just one in the air. The question we've been having to deal with this Summer is that here's a guy that's running rings around the Pioneer League at 20 years old, having the most dominant season by a starter the league has seen this decade, with only Aaron Poreda's 2007 and Jonathan Figueroa's 2002 coming close (if you consider the context of what Chad Billingsley did as an 18 year old in 2003, that's also probably right there) but doing it as a sixth round draft choice and without the big time pedigree those other guys had.

What do you do with that? What has to be clear right now is that CBM is a quality prospect. He may even be an elite prospect. The Pioneer League by it's high altitude nature will expose flaws in pitchers you didn't know were there. So far with Balcom-Miller, there hasn't been any such exposure. I'm about ready to put him as high as my third best RHP prospect behind Chacin and Rogers, and I'm seriously contemplating whether he's not #2. We're not talking about a really good season like Brandon Hynick had at Casper, we're looking at something exceptional, and you've got to account for that.

I look for cautionary tales of other prospects that have done this well (under 2.00 ERA's as starters in significant innings) in the Pioneer League and not pan out at all, and the two I can come up with is 2003 Jim Paduch, a twefth round selection of the Cincinnati Reds who never had the stuff (and a look at the 11 unearned runs he racked up that season and other peripherals shows that) to go along with his command, and Figueroa, who had the stuff but lost it due to poor offseason conditioning and shoulder woes. Other than that, there's not much showing that CBM can't make the majors and there's quite a bit showing that he should have a pretty big impact there.

Nolan Arenado had two more hits, including a double, in the win.

Colorado Springs: W 6-3

Alan Johnson picked up his tenth win of the season for the Sky Sox. Dan Ortmeier helped lead the charge for the offense.

Tulsa: W 4-2

Next I'll have to write a column about what to do with Chaz Roe, a great start for him last night as well. Michael McKenry had two hits and two walks in the win for the Drillers. Cole Garner had an ofer for the first time in a long time as a starter.

Modesto: W 4-3

Solid work by Kenny Durst and the Nuts bullpen and a four run second inning capped by a two run Charlie Blackmon double were the keys to this victory.

Asheville: W 7-3

Rex Brothers still hasn't given up a run in Asheville, Thomas Field had a pair of doubles and a three hit night by Scott Robinson were among the highlights from this contest.

Tri-City: L 4-8

The only loss in the system was suffered by one of the better teams as a bullpen collapse let this game get away. Bo Bowman and Joey Wong each had two hits.

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