Thursday Pebble Report: Tyler Matzek Strikes Out Ten, Plays With Your Heart Some More

Tyler Matzek has had a lot of ups and downs in the four years since this photo was taken. Last night was a definite up.

High-A Modesto - W 6-1, (33-25, 1st, W1)

#4 PuRP Tyler Matzek (2009, 1st round) has been a roller coaster prospect to say the least, and it is almost as if last season wasn't insane enough for the lefty. He returned in 2012 emboldened and started exceptionally well, carrying and ERA under 3.00 into June. But his June ERA was over 5.00, his July ERA was 8.00, and coming into last night, his August ERA was 11.00, pushing his season figure into the 5's. The one skill that had never abandoned him ever before (missing bats) evaporated.

Then came last night. For just the second time in 47 career starts, Matzek didn't walk a batter. (The first time was in his previous start). Yes, he's on a two-start walkless streak. For just the third time, he went seven innings without allowing a run. He also struck out ten, the second-most in his career. Just as his season started to spiral out of control, Matzek went out and produced the best start of his career. Figure that one out. If there is anything to knock Matzek on last night, it is to note that the Stockton Ports are the worst offense in the California League. No one in the lineup is hitting over .265 despite a decent home park for offense, the team batting average is dead last, and the 49-79 team is three runs away from being worst in the league. Since Miles Head is now in AA, those numbers actually paint an overly optimistic picture of the offense if anything. Still, the Rockies needed to see this sort of performance from Matzek.

#12 PuRP Rafael Ortega (2008, DR) filled up the box score as well, hitting for the first three legs of the cycle in his first three at-bats and stealing a base. He also comitted an error (just his second) but made up for it with his 18th outfield assist. Those assists all California League outfielders by six, despite missing the season's first two weeks, and matches his total in Asheville in 2011. This is the reason to be particularly excited about Ortega, who has a solid bat and speed, but can not only play center field, he does it very well. Tim Smalling (2011, 15th round) hit a two run home run.

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AA Tulsa - W 3-1, (26-32, W4, 3rd, 10.5 GB)

Brandon Hynick (2012, MiLB FA) wasn't missing bats, but the Arkansas Travelers still never reached their destination of home plate last night. Over seven innings, Hynick allowed nine hits and a walk while striking out just one. He was bailed out by two outfield assists from #14 PuRP Corey Dickerson (2010, 8th round), one of which led to a truly rare 7-5-3 double play. With one out, Hynick allowed back to back singles, with the lead runner attempting to take third base on a hit to left. Dickerson gunned him down, then #1 PuRP Nolan Arenado (2009, 2nd round) turned and fired to first to nab the runner straying off first. Dickerson hit a solo homer in the fourth to give Tulsa lead it would not relinquish, while Arenado and Ben Paulsen (2009, 3rd round) pushed across runs in the sixth on a sac fly and single, respectively.

Low-A Asheville - W 8-7, (35-24, W6, 2nd, 3.0 GB)

The Tourists fell behind 5-0 after two innings thanks to the ineffectiveness of Vianney Mayo (2007, VZ) and the infield defense behind him. The offense punched back though in a big way in Savannah, and Asheville came away with a one run win. Four Tourists had three-hit games, including #13 PuRP Will Swanner (2010, 15th round); Taylor Featherston (2011, 5th round), who had two doubles; HM PuRP Sam Mende (2011, 31st round), who was a triple shy of the cycle; and David Kandilas (2008, Australia). Every member of the Asheville lineup had a hit except Ryan Casteel (2010, 17th round), who struck out four times. Nelson Gonzalez (2007, DR) and Jefri Hernandez (2008, DR) kept the San Gnats off the scoreboard while securing the final 11 outs.

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Short-season A Tri-City - W 4-3, (11-18, W2, 4th, 7.0 GB)

The Dust Devils faced Kyle Ottoson last night, a pitcher who has been drafted five straight years from four different schools, finally signing in 2012 with the Padres. He is also one of five players to ever get drafted from my high school. Last night, Tri-City got to him with a three-run third inning that started with two bunt singles and an infield hit. All three runners scored in the inning, on a wild pitch, #16 PuRP Rosell Herrera (2009, DR) sac fly and Francisco Sosa (2007, DR) single. Ben Hughes (2011, 10th round) was a little better, allowing three runs over 5.1 IP. Herrera scored the winning run when he struck out to lead off the eighth yet reached on a wild pitch, got bunted over, stole third and scored on a single from Derek Jones (2012, 8th round). Seth Willoughby (2012, 4th round) struck out the side for his seventh save.

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Rookie Grand Junction - L 2-3, (12-11, L1, t-2nd, 1.0 GB)

Following the 13-hour bus ride from to Helena, David Dahl (2012, 1st round) has taken two games off (he is not hurt). The Rockies did not miss him Tuesday, but his absence was noticeable last night. Grand Junction's offense sputtered to two runs on five hits, with Matt Wessinger and Jason Stolz accounting for four of the five hits. Stolz tripled and scored one of Grand Junction's runs. Matt Carasiti was effective, allowing three runs (two earned) in 5.2 IP, done in by a two run shot in the third.

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DSL Rockies - W 11-4, (41-28, W4, 2nd, 1.0 GB)

Antonio Senzatela (2011, DR) allowed a run, but only one, as his DSL-leading ERA sits now at 0.72. The Orioles managed eight baserunners in his five innings. Wilson Soriano, Miguel Dilone, Jairo Garcia and Wilkyns Jimenez each had three hit games.

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AAA Colorado Springs - PPD, (69-62, L1, 2nd, 4.0 GB)

The Sky Sox game was postponed when the Sky Sox' flight from Las Vegas to Tucson was cancelled and the team failed to secure a new flight to deliver them to Arizona by gametime. It will be made up as a doubleheader tomorrow, with Game 1 of the five game set moved to today at 6:05MDT.

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