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Extended Weekend Pebble Report

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Is Choo finally approaching the station?

Sorry for my slacker weekend, I'm allowed it was my birthday. We'll get back to a more regular schedule of things starting today hopefully.

Alright, onto the farm. At Asheville, Dragon Lo's recent struggles have gone from meaningless, to a minor concern, to a disappointing quandary fairly quickly. After starting off so well, he seems to have just suddenly skipped the track losing a little velocity and movement from what I've been told as opponents have really started to hit him pretty hard. Lo is still so young and his other numbers remain so strong that he'll continue to rank highly in our prospect list regardless, but in my impatience, I want a Matt Cain caliber prospect in our system right now. It's okay though, we'll settle for Ubaldo Jiminez and Juan Morillo at the moment, Lo can take his time to fix things. Meanwhile, Ryan Mattheus continues to pitch decently in his full season debut.

On offense, it remains the same story, Joe Koshansky and Matt Miller, with Dustin Hahn and Justin Nelson trailing behind. Hahn has a better average, Nelson better defense, and both have only shown gap power with the T's. Meanwhile, Kyle Wilson is emerging as an interesting power hitting catching prospect (if he would only stop striking out so much) and could be a sleeper in the system.

On to Modesto, where Ian Stewart hit another homerun Saturday, was one of only three Nuts to get a hit off of Jesse Floyd yesterday, and has been walking a little bit more as well (5/28 BB/K ratio), giving us hope that he's finally getting warm to the season. Jordan Czarniecki remains warm already in everything except stealing bases. Matt Macri continues to do good things (.286/.376/.422). As far as pitching, the Nuts have had some nice performances from U-ball and Morillo (read Jack Etkin's RMN column to learn he pitched in the 93-98 mph range) and some rough ones from some otherwise reliable relievers, Jim Miller got hit hard the other night and blew his second save, and Joshua Newman, who I like to tout, gave up two runs in the ninth last night as the coaches gave him a little longer outing than he normally gets (he went three complete, striking out five and giving up four walks and two hits - both hits and three of the walks occurred in that ninth).

In Tulsa, yesterday's game highlighted the three positional prospects we're paying the most attention to, as Jeff Salazar, Tony Miller, and Ryan Spilborghs (one, two three in the batting order)combined to go five for nine with three homeruns and three walks as the rest of the team went zero for twenty-two with eleven strikeouts and only two walks by Alvin Colina. Miller (.829 OPS)and Salazar (.770) continue to have similar offensive numbers, Miller's small edge there is somewhat negated by a higher strikeout rate which makes me wonder if he'll transition to the next levels as well and also by the stronger defense Salazar has shown. Both remain strong possibilities to succeed Preston Wilson if Choo Freeman isn't going to cut it. Catchers Colina and Dan Conway are both looking pretty good, Colina's only played eight games but has shown patience and some power, and Conway's .893 OPS is second on the team to Spilborghs among players with enough at bats to qualify. Sandy Nin got hit hard and couldn't make it through the fourth yesterday in his second Double A start, look for him to bounce back later in the week.

Speaking of Choo Freeman, his sixteen walks thus far impress me more than any of his other numbers, he's second to only Eddie Garabito in drawing the free pass for the Sky Sox and I think that selectivity has helped him get a better read on which pitches he should be swinging at. Apparently Danny Ardoin will finally soon spell JD Closser and allow him to work out his offensive woes at AAA. As far as pitching, neither Jason Young or Mike Esposito are ready to fill any vacancy in the rotation, and Tim Drew should only be a road option judging by his nine dingers allowed so far, but Esposito and Young are progressing after rough starts and control issues that affected them at the start of the season seem to have subsided under the tutelage of Bob McClure (why isn't this man in Denver?) anyway, look to the summer months for the two to heat up even more.