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AFL - Pitcher Capsules

Continuing after yesterday's review of the hitters. As was mentioned in the comments of yesterday's post the Javelinas won, and all six players from the Rockies contingent saw action to more or less mixed results (most were solid but unspectacular) while other top prospects, like the D-backs Stephen Drew, or Brandon Wood of the Angels, started off with big bangs.

Anyway, today the J's play Grand Canyon again at four o'clock MDT.

Jon Asahina

Who he is: Asahina is too old to be considered a true prospect, and his status could easily be considered "minor league journeyman" if he didn't have at least mildly intriguing stuff that keeps him hanging around year after year. When the Rockies chose him to go to the Fall League it kind of surprised me, I'll admit, as his stuff and background would seem more indicative of a AAAA pitcher who could provide a spot start or two, or work out of relief in a brief cup of coffee with a Big League club, than an actual carry on your roster all year kind of guy. His four pitch assortment benefits him, as does solid control which allows him to keep his pitches down in the zone and induce groundouts, a clear plus should he ever get to Coors Field.

What he has to play for in the AFL: Asahina has a pretty good shot of getting a Spring invite, and he could be competing with Mike Esposito and some NRI's for one of our final roster spots next March, so the Fall League gives him a chance to improve his mechanics and skill against tough competition in a hitter friendly environment similar to what he'd face in Denver, or more likely Colorado Springs next season. As we saw with Christian Parker this year, success at Tulsa doesn't mean diddly when you transfer to altitude, so a preview should help him in that regard. He has an opportunity with a really good AFL season to put some real heat on Esposito to do well from the gate next Spring or at least be watching his back.

What we should expect: I would think Asahina's pitches are a bit better than Parker's from what I've been told, so I wouldn't be surprised if he puts up fairly solid numbers. That said, don't expect his K's to be that high, but his WHIP should be comparitively low. The Rockies have had a fairly decent history of success with pitchers lacking decent stuff, Brian Bohanon, Kevin Ritz and others put up their best seasons in our most hostile of environs, as there seems to be a large psychological component to success as a Rockie. If Asahina is a grinder that doesn't get shaken by the occasional explosion, than maybe he's one of these.

Ramon Ramirez

Who he is: Ramirez was one of two AA pitchers acquired from the Yankees for Shawn Chacon, a trade which at this point seems as ugly as they come. As a Driller, Ramirez had an okay 23/8 K/BB rate in 25 plus innings, but he was hit regularly and pretty hard, resulting in a 5.33 ERA. After this inauspicious debut, he got the call to the AFL to get more work out of the bullpen, a roll he seems more suited for than as the starter he's been up to this point.

What he has to play for in the AFL: Saving the face of Dan O'Dowd. Also, the aforementioned bullpen work. Without solid returns in 2006 for the Rockies from that trade, this particular transaction could seal DOD's legacy as a failed GM, especially if he doesn't last to the point where the Rockies are competitive again. So Ramirez and fellow tradee Eduardo Sierra could be the emodiment of the last days of this chapter in Rockies lore.

What to expect: Ramirez might have trouble in the hitter friendly league, as avoiding bats hasn't been his strong suit this season.

Jim Miller

Who he is: The top pitching prospect the Rockies sent to the desert, and one of their top prospects in all the minors. Miller could be a top late inning reliever in the MLB and has proven to be a real steal from the 2004 draft, an eighth round pick out Louisiana-Monroe that signed for just $12,000, he should be the first player from that draft to crack the Rockies' roster -as early as next season- although Chris Iannetta might have a say in that. Miller features a mid-nineties heater with movement that he gets across with a deceptively slow delivery, and can follow it with a pretty decent change and an okay slider to keep hitters off balance. The fastball is probably MLB ready, the other pitches are not.

What he has to play for in the AFL: Miller did well in his brief end of the season stint in Tulsa, and without real competition immediately ahead of him in Colorado Springs, he might not need to go back to the TL next Spring if it weren't for a couple of development concerns. In the desert he could definitely use work on his slider, and needs to develop either that or the change as a second way of getting hitters out to be in a truly elite closer category. If he could bring either of those two pitches to the next level, his ascent to the majors will be quick to follow.

What to expect: As yesterday's outing showed, while working on secondary pitches we can expect Miller to have some control issues throughout the month's stay. Still, the head-start on the offseason this opportunity provides could be invaluable to him and should he get things down over the winter, watch out for him opening some eyes next Spring.