Sunday Rockpile: Young hitters once again proving valuable to Rockies

June 2, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario (20) hits an RBI double during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field. The Dodgers won 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE

While much has been made by Purple Row and elsewhere of the Rockies seeming inability to develop long term MLB competitive pitchers, it gets lost sometimes that for a while the development of position players within the system had been going about as poorly. The Rockies had gone through two complete seasons since Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler emerged in 2009 without seeing another of their young position players mature into an MLB level starter. Gonzalez's development was largely the product of other systems, but as well as failing to develop their own young players, the Rockies organization failed to identify emerging external players like Cargo who would have benefited the team in trades over that time.

2012 appears on its way to breaking that stretch, at least as far as the internal development of players is concerned, as Wilin Rosario has been using an unconventional path to break through as a legitimate starting MLB catcher. Rosario clearly lacks pitch selectivity and the ability to make consistent contact, but his prodigious power and premium defensive position have allowed him to be a league average catcher nonetheless. For a Rockies rookie, that's progress.

In a similar vein, the case of Jordan Pacheco could be an interesting one to follow. The faith the team had in Pacheco's swing has proven somewhat justified (he could benefit from drawing more walks) as his minor league numbers indicated a considerably weaker MLB hitter given his age and the parks he had played at. That said, his deficiencies on defense are enough to make him merely replacement level so far, not the "standout" that the Denver Post headlines for a Patrick Saunders article.

As long as he develops more patience at the plate, using a player like Pacheco in a defensive innings limited bench role could be very beneficial to a team, and in that role Pacheco could provide enough value at the plate over the course of a season to add a couple of wins. Using him as a full time starting third baseman, on the other hand, takes away from that value, and would therefore be less efficient so long as the Rockies have another defensive competent 3B with any kind of an okay bat...


G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2012 - Chris Nelson 26 77 5 17 5 0 1 8 11 19 1 1 .221 .318 .325

...which would be where the rub's at, as currently the Rockies don't really have the defensive competent 3B to push Pacheco to his most valuable use.

While we're on the subject of defense, I will reiterate that I don't really trust FanGraphs' UZR for Rockies outfielders, the measure that has Carlos Gonzalez (who has swagger) as far worse a defender than Michael Cuddyer, and says that Cargo is the sixth worst defender in baseball, in fact, but I will say that I feel sometimes Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler might be initially positioning themselves more to make the best throws back to the infield rather than to make the most plays. I think they tend to start a couple steps too deep.

Bob Apodaca sees the Rockies young pitchers as either a flowering tree or a kettle of corn depending on which popping metaphor he's using. Better than balloons, I suppose. I tend to agree with him, but I'm not really sure why the process of pitcher development isn't perceived as more gradual, which I'm guessing it really is.

As the aforelinked piece also mentions, Rex Brothers is back on the 25 man roster, while Carlos Torres has been sent back down to AAA. This would rule out Torres as a possibility to replace Juan Nicasio later in the week should his knee injury require him to miss a start.

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