Just two games into the year and we're starting to get an early peek into what the minor league season has in store for us. It's still too early to make any predictions, but there's still plenty to get excited about.
The Asheville Tourists have a pretty good hitting lineup.
The Rockies Low-A club is made up of sluggers 1-through-5, with David Dahl as the centerpiece in the order. The Tourists put up eight runs on Opening Day against a pretty good Colorado product and former Regis pitcher Steven Brault. Dahl's RBI triple was the catalyst early in the game and was just a few feet shy of being Asheville's first home run of the season.Third baseman Ryan McMahon did well protecting Dahl, going 2-for-3 batting behind him on the night.
The next night the Tourists struggled against an even more dangerous pitcher, Hunter Harvey the Orioles first round pick in the 2014 draft and ranked No. 58 overall by Baseball Prospectus. Harvey may have struck out five Tourists, but David Dahl was a thorn in his side reaching base twice. After a year's hiatus, It's sure nice to write again about one of the Rockies best hitting prospects.
The upper minors have some pretty good pitchers.
The hero of the week and the one everyone is talking about is Eddie Butler. The righthander allowed just a run on three hits in his debut while striking out five. Butler's consistency at the Double-A level is encouraging. However, the three hits he gave up were all for extra bases, on the flip-side he worked out of trouble nicely allowing just the one earned run.
The pitcher performance I was most excited for was Christian Friedrich. The lefthander showed a lot of grit in the Rockies miserable 2012 pitching season and came back strong on Opening Night after missing most of 2013. The former first round pick pitched in his third consecutive Opening Day, breaking a Sky Sox record by striking out nine in his debut. The nine strikeouts gives Friedrich a 16.2 K/9 on the young season and shows how close he is to returning to the Rockies rotation.
Both Christian Bergman and Dan Winkler provided strong pitching performances last night. Winkler struck out five in his debut, shutting out the opposition while allowing just two hits. Winkler is turning into a nice bullpen or back-of-the-rotation option, following up his 2013 pitcher of the year performance with a well rounded game in Double-A Tulsa. Same thing can be said for Bergman, who allowed just two hitters to reach in the second before going on to eliminate 18 batters in a row. Bergman was making his first start at the Triple-A level, giving up two hits and two earned runs on the night, while striking out four.
The power is there
Only two games into the season and we're already seeing home runs from some of the Rockies best power hitting prospects. Outfielder Kyle Parker has hit 20+ home runs at each of his stops in the Rockies system over the last three years and he's not slowing down now that he's in Triple-A. Both Parker and first baseman Ben Paulsen homered yesterday in a tough hitters park in New Orleans.
Catcher Tom Murphy homered on Opening Day in Tulsa. Here's a highlight of the game which also features a game-tying bomb by shortstop Cristhian Adames.
He's not generating in power yet, but maybe the second time's a charm for catcher Will Swanner. Just two games into the season and he's hitting .571 with just one strikeout. The one strikeout is impressive as Swanner has averaged a 30% strikeout rate over the past three seasons. The California native struggled in High-A Modesto last year, but has started out strong in his first two games of 2014.