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Fall/Winter League Pebble Report

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There's been a bit of news on our prospects the last few days. In case anybody missed it in the comments to yesterday's AZ overview post, there's been a nice three part article by Thomas George in the Denver Post about the Rockies' development program in the Dominican. Part One focused mainly on the symbiotic relationship Major League baseball and the Dominican have, Part Two went a little more into the good (Aneury Rodriguez, Samuel Deduno) and bad of these development programs, and touched on the tricky politics of race, class and social responsibility.

The Rockies are getting a little heat from the local media of late for their lack of minority representation in the coaching staff, the front office and even at the end of last year -as far as one particular group is concerned, African Americans- on the big league roster itself. Some of this criticism is certainly unfair, Dave Krieger's inane column in the News a couple of months ago being in that category. However, some of the criticism, particularly George's implied concern of the lack of diversity in the coaching ranks, might be more deserved. Monday's Post article barely touches on the issue of Latin player exploitation, for those readers of mine with a more progressive desire to be outraged about the players who don't make it, read this instead. Yesterday in Part Three George focused mostly on one player, Hector Gomez, whom he calls the Rockies' shortstop of the future. While Clint Barmes, Chris Nelson and Troy Tulowitzky will no doubt take exception to that opinion, it's nice to have depth up the middle for once.

Also mentioned in the comments yesterday, Ryan Shealy and Team USA romped over Guatemala in the Olympic qualifying tournament. Shealy finished with three hits in the 23-0 victory, Jim Miller didn't pitch. Team USA plays Mexico today in Phoenix at one o'clock.

Shane Lindsay won the Northwest League pitcher of the year honor. It's not surprising as the Bacchus Marsh, Australia, prospect dominated this last year. With Lindsay, Deduno and Frankie Morales (link in Spanish) coming up right behind U-ball and Juan Morillo, our power pitching depth is looking more solid than ever. Next in line would be the two Casper Rockies, Chaz Roe and Aneury Rodriguez (and don't count out Lindsay Webb yet, either).

Here's a rundown of a few players who's stock have been rising or falling over the winter. In the comments feel free to add others you know about or offer views counter to mine.

Rising:

Ryan Shealy - Isn't playing in the outfield for Team USA, but at least he's keeping a high trade profile.

Franklin Morales - Pitching solidly for Caracas as a starter, and he's only 20 years old, like I said last week, he'll be a very exciting player to watch in 2006.

Shane Lindsay - Hasn't pitched competitively since striking out nine Columbians in five innings in the World Baseball Classic in the Netherlands, apparently, but the NWL honor underscores his status as one of the Rockies' top prospects.

Hector Gomez - The press coverage puts him squarely on our radar, now let's see where he takes it.

Jim Miller - Up and down AFL showed a lot of promise and he was rewarded by an invite to the National squad.

Falling:

Marcos Carvajal - He hasn't gotten a start yet in  Venezuela, and his relief outings have been spotty. I'm still bullish on him, but my enthusiasm has deflated a bit.

Jeff Salazar - Looked terrible at the plate in the AFL, it's looking more and more like Salazar's peak might only be as a AAAA type. The search for a centerfielder continues.

Jon Asahina - Also had a rough AFL and I have my doubts that he'll be able to compete in the PCL in 2006.

Mixed results:

Ian Stewart - Had a huge fall until he was shut down with a wrist injury. If the injury doesn't hold him back this Spring, then all's well, but another slow start could be trouble.

Chris Iannetta - His trip to Arizona was a positive even though the results at the plate don't necessarily show it. There's no reason not to think he's not our catcher of the future, but there's also not much reason to think he'll be ready for the majors in 2006.