Tuesday Rockpile: Rockies Announce Minor League Staffs

The Rockies' new hitting coach...the Grand Junction Rockies, that is. - Garry Newkirk, Getty Images

In an attempt to improve the consistency of instruction in player development, the Rockies have created a new "Development Supervisor" position for each minor league affiliate. Those filling the roles have at least 6 years experience in the Rockies system or over a quarter century in an MLB front office.

One month ago, the Rockies hired Fred Nelson, a 27-year front office veteran from the Houston Astros. We learned that Nelson would be filling a newly created position as the "Director" of the Class-A Modesto Nuts, giving wings to speculation that such a position would be created for each minor league affiliation. Yesterday, the Rockies announced their minor league staffs, including the "Director" position, which is now termed "development supervisor."

"What we've done is take responsibilities that used to be done by roving-type coordinators and made them fully dedicated at a certain level. It's another set of hands, another set of eyes. Then there's the team-building aspect that will be a big part of the job." - Player Development Director Jeff Bridich, via Thomas Harding, MLB.com

Bridich notes that the responsibilities of the job are still developing, but the hope is to provide more consistent instruction at each level, improving efficiency and streamlining instruction.

The Rockies are still interviewing for the Sky Sox development supervisor, but the other affiliates are filled. Aside from Fred Nelson, all supervisors have been Rockies employees since at least 2006: Duane Espy (Tulsa), Fred Nelson (Modesto), Marv Foley (Asheville), Ron Gideon (Tri-City), and Tony Diaz (Grand Junction).

Troy Renck fills in the gaps with the rest of the coaching staffs. Of note: former Rockies' first-base coach Glenallen Hill will manage AAA Colorado Springs, Modesto pitching coach Darryl Scott will move to Tulsa with Tyler Matzek, former Expo/Ranger/Angel Lee Stevens will be the hitting coach in Grand Junction, and Warren Schaeffer moves fresh out of retirement into the hitting coach role at Tri City. The Dust Devils pitching coach will be former Fort Collins High School coach Frank Gonzales.

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First Pitch Strikes

First-Pitch Strikes for a Last-Place Team - Purple Row If you haven't read Chris Chrisman's fantastic research piece yesterday, stop right now and do it.

Swinging at first pitch and game theory - James Gentile actually wrote a piece on this topic for The Hardball Times last Friday, before Chris' piece published but after he wrote it. He brings up an important distinction that could be added to Chris' piece in utilization: many hitters are extremely patient and don't offer at first pitch strikes, many others look specifically to fire at it, yet the overall effect is that hitters in MLB are more successful swinging at the first pitch than all other counts. Advance scouting of who is least likely to burn Rockies pitchers with a first-pitch strike would be a great tool.

It should not really be surprising that young Rockies pitchers would be scared of starting at-bats with strikes. Playing in the same ballparks, they watched their teammates hit .374/.378/.611 in at bats on the first pitch, best in MLB. Colorado also ranked 1st in 2007 and 2010, 4th in 2008. Rockies pitchers see first pitches get punished, with Coors Field playing a large part.

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Other Links

2013 Colorado Rockies Fantasy Baseball Preview - Bryan Kilpatrick answered some questions for a Razzball preview. We field requests like this constantly, and most ask questions that are inaccurate, tired, insulting, uninspired or that could be answered by a quick Google search. This one included some actually well-researched interesting questions, so give it a read.

St. Louis Cardinals lead Keith Law's ranking of all 30 farm systems - MLB - ESPN - The Rockies rank a paltry 23rd in Law's ranking here, which is quite a bit lower than most other systems. There is are no pitching prospects without glaring weaknesses and no elite hitting prospects (yet), but there is some depth.

What WAR Is Good For | FanGraphs Baseball - Dave Cameron takes on Jim Caple in this rebuttal of Caple's piece last week about how WAR fits into the conversation. It promotes a healthy conversation about the construct's best utilization. Regardless on how you feel about WAR, you have been guilty of misusing it in an argument in the past.

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FIVE

The Rockies want to move on from 2012 and start 2013 as much as you do. They are one of four teams that have scheduled Sunday, February 10 as the day for pitchers and catchers to report. No team reports earlier than the Rockies, Indians, Cubs and Red Sox. We are five days away.

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