Minor League Spotlight
I want to start this column off with a little rant, because I've realized something; getting a pitcher to be successful in Colorado is tough, but what source provides the talent for our pitchers who are failing in Coors Field? Is this really about good pitchers getting to 5,183 feet and suddenly failing, or are we stocking the rotation with subpar pitchers? There are only 4 ways to acquire a starting pitcher:
1. Sign a free agent like Mike Hampton
2. Trade for an established starter like Jeremy Guthrie
3. Sign an International player like Ubaldo Jimenez
4. Draft and develop from within, like the Rockies did with Greg Reynolds.
Examining these four strategies reveals only one in which the Rockies do well. Over the past few years the Rockies have seen Jhoulys Chacin, Juan NIcasio, Edwar Cabrera and other Latin America pitchers make appearances in the starting rotation.
What about the draft? It's cheap and allows a team cost-control over a player for several years. It's perfect for a mid-market team like the Rockies. But the Rockies fail at it. Only 5 pitchers from the 2000 draft until now have started for the organization. They are: Jason Young, Cory Vance, Jeff Francis, Greg Reynolds, Christian Friedrich. Are you kidding me? Greg Reynolds and Christian Friedrich are the only drafted starters since 2008!
I know, someone's going to tell me it's tough to draft starting pitchers. How tough is it? Let's compare the Rockies to the rest of the NL West.
I went through pitching histories in Baseball Reference to see how many starts were made by drafted pitchers and the Rockies are the worst at it. This team has been completely handcuffed by their failure to draft pitchers. On average the Giants, DBacks and Padres have a new pitcher appearing for their organization nearly every year. The Rockies have to wait almost four years before we see a new drafted pitcher. The Dodgers are nearly as bad as the Rockies, however they can afford free agent pitchers, and they successfully drafted two very good starters in Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley.
The current supply is not meeting the demand. So the Rockies are forced to acquire pitchers through different means; like trades and free agent signings. Meanwhile the front office is telling us the arms are breaking down at Coors Field, I say the arms aren't making it to Coors. The team is relying on Jamie Moyer, Kip Wells and other pitchers far past their prime to start in a rotation that should be backlogged with drafted starterz waiting to make an appearance.
The Rockies organization is in last place and part of that is because it's in last place when it comes to drafting pitchers.
PuRp of the Week
This week I wanted to highlight the hottest power hitter in the organization and right now it's Grand Junction rightfielder Julian Yan. Over the past week, Yan has knocked six homeruns, with four bunched into three consecutive games, while batting .323 with a .968 slugging percentage.
At 6'2" 185, Yan reminds me of a young Raul Mondesi with good range and an incredible rope for an arm in the outfield. He has the ability to get extension with his arms and crush a ball over any part of the wall.
Julian spent last season with the Casper Ghosts and was with the Rockies DSL team before that. As a 20 year old he is at the right age for the Pioneer league and should be progressing to Asheville next season.
Yan is one of those players who's physical tools surpass the numbers he has put up in the past. For instance; in the Dominican he hit only .201 with three homeruns before being promoted to Casper. Yan may be figuring things out however, as he is posting a 1.368 OPS over the past 7 days. His 8 XBH's and 14 RBI's lead the Rockies organization over that time.
Video of the Week
Video and interview of a Julian Yan grandslam from earlier in the season, by ReelrecruitsGJ.
Tweet of the week
How have I never seen Olympic trampolining?? I'm so entertained right now— Kent Matthes (@KentMatthes) August 4, 2012
Tweet of the week 2
Alright it's official I'm forming a team handball roster for the USA #goforgold— Matt Wessinger (@b1ng_b0ng) August 2, 2012
Tweet Pic of the week
Mike Ekstrom (@checkwitEK) August 5, 2012
Stat of the Week
Peter Tago has increased his groundball percentage each month of the season from 48% in June, to 58% in July and 77% in his last start of August. It's effectively improved his ERA every month from where it sat at 9.69 in June to it's current 5.11 after a 3.69 in July and a 3.00 in August.
5 Things on my Mind
1. It might be unfair, but Christian Friedrich's back injury makes me wonder if it's due to the four-man rotation.
2. I'm going to be really sad if the Rockies can't turn things around and pass 100 losses. There's not many teams that can say they've never surpassed that inglorious number.
3. With Todd Helton out for the year and coming to the end of his time in Colorado, it makes me wonder if Harold Riggins is the firstbaseman of the future for the Rockies. He's batting .500 this week with a 1.616 OPS.
4. Corey Dickerson is a stud. After missing a game with a broken nose, he came back and hit two homeruns this week, while wearing a mask.
5. Jayson Aquino, all I can say is wow! Welcome to the states, I hope you keep it up.