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Pebble Report - Casper Preview

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Today I thought I'd go over the rosters of our two short season clubs and offer a scouting report on all the players I know about. There will be a couple from our foreign scouts that information will be harder to come by, but hopefully we can fill that out as the season progresses. Casper is always tricky to evaluate in season, but the general rule is that if pitchers are dominating with high K rates (like Samuel Deduno, Franklin Morales, and Joshua Newman in 2004) take notice. With hitters, don't pay much attention until their OPS is greater than .900, and if it cracks 1.000 then you really start paying attention.


Pitchers

Byron Binda - Binda was a nineteenth round draft pick this year out of Coastal Carolina where he was a true student/athlete and from all accounts fits the image the Rockies are trying to project of drafting good character players. Over the last two years he's recorded 147 strikeouts in 112 2/3 innings, with fifty-six walks. His 274 K's is good enough for sixth all time at Coastal and his 10.08 K/9 rate ranks tops all-time for the Chanticleers. He does it mostly by overpowering hitters with a 90+mph fastball with natural sink. Being a college senior when drafted, Binda will be a bit old for the Pioneer but needs to expand his pitch repertoire before making the next step.

Xavier Cedeno - After being drafted in the thirty-first round out of a Puerto Rican high school last year, the Rockies paid Cedeno's tuition and fees at Miami Dade college and watched him K 57 in 44 and 1/3 innings with seventeen walks before signing him. He'll be one of Casper's younger pitchers and one to watch closely.

Pedro Chivilli - Chivilli makes his third appearance at Casper and his career really needs to take off now in order to get back on the radar after the last few years have been injury riddled and mechanically flawed. He might just be roster filler at this point.

Riquy de los Santos - He turns twenty tomorrow, happy birthday Riquy! but that's about all I know of him.

Sandy Espinosa - like De los Santos before and Fabian after, another product of our Dominican program I don't know much about. He is a little older than the other two, he'll be turning twenty-one in December.

Robinson Fabian - He's the second youngest pitcher on the roster of those with birth-dates given, only Kyle Hancock (once he signs) will be younger -although I know Lindsay Webb's pretty young too. This will make any positive performance from Fabian stand out all the more.

Ross Hipke - An undrafted free agent sign out of Australia, Hipke's fastball reaches 150 kph! Even with the conversion (91 mph) that's impressive. I've been excited about seeing Hipke pitch since his signing. The signing article states he's the third Aussie in the system after Adam Bright and Shane Lindsay, but it was written before Victoria teammate Lindsay Webb signed also (see below).

Andrew Johnston - Mizzou's closer before we drafted him, Johnston comes at hitters with one pitch: a devastating 94 mph sinker from a three quarter arm slot. It's got nasty bite and if he can develop anything off speed he, like Binda will be an intriguing option for our future bullpen.

Rhadames Manzueta - I don't know anything about him other than he's a little old for the Pioneer and he didn't do so hot last year, if anybody does please be kind to your fellow fans and post in the comments.

Jay Metzger - a 23rd round 2004 pick, Metzger got hit hard in his debut season at Casper but had some decent peripheral numbers. If he can get batters to make weaker contact he might be able to move up in the system, but like Manzueta, he's a bit old for the league now.

Manuel Pichardo -
Anverys Rodriguez -

Sean Ruthven - Ruthven was a senior selected in the 27th round this year and will be one of the older pitchers on the Casper team.

Raphael Sanchez- born a week apart from Ruthven, last year Sanchez allowed too many hits and walks to merit much attention. This year he's got to be feeling some heat to improve or be let loose.

Brett Strickland - He was a little old as a junior when drafted out of Georgia State last week due to a medical redshirt year in 2003 (shoulder pain) that probably scared most other teams off as his stuff is pretty decent and would push him up a couple of rounds otherwise. He shouldn't have too much trouble with Pioneer League hitters, but how he fares against Pionner League parks is always another story.

Lindsay Webb - Another sign from Rockies Australian scout Phil Allen, Webb has an upper eighties fastball that could go higher with more refinement and an already developing curve which shows signs of becoming a plus pitch as well. He's more of a project than Hipke, but an intriguing one for sure. He's young and promising and should be fun to watch.

I'll edit the story with the position players (and Roe and Hancock if they sign) throughout the day.

Catchers:

Kyle Blumenthal - Kyle went to CPSLO also, but it?s interesting that he?s listed as an outfielder on Casper?s site even though he was drafted as a catcher. I?m going to assume that was a mistake and move him back, but we?ll find out for sure next week. He could very well be a fit as an Eli Marrero type who can catch, and play other positions as needed and that could be why the switch. Blumenthal is a good contact hitter who has excellent strikezone judgement and reminds me of Chris Ianetta with only a little less pop.

Greg Dombek - a free agent sign out of George Fox University, Dombek is putting his dental career on hold to catch with Casper. Dombek?s a type of underdog who I love to root for although it?s seldom that they get that far in the minors. Good luck to Greg, anyway.

Luke Sargent - ? 23, from Costa Mesa, but that tells us little.

Steven Suarez - like Dombek, Suarez went undrafted in 2004 as a senior out of LeMoyne College but shows some pop and although the odds are slim that he?ll get much farther, how cool is it that he?s playing pro-ball even at this level? I say pretty cool.

First Base

Chris Cook - Cook's bat looks as impressive as his 6'5" 230 lb. frame would suggest, but there's some question as to how well he'll do against more advanced pitching. He didn't strike out a lot at Grand Canyon U. but look to that to increase. Also his defense needs a lot of help.

Second Base

Corey Wimberly - speed, speed, and slap-hitting. He should be fun as a scrappy second baseman.

Daniel Mayora - from Venezuela, he?s a bit small, but also fairly young and beyond that? I don't know.

Shortstop

Rhadames Nazario - young and toolsy, he has gap power that could hopefully get a little bit better as he develops into a more refined hitter. He?s another project that might take a couple of years before we really start to see progress from, so don?t be dismayed by low stat numbers if they happen.

Geoff Strickland - He doesn?t project to have much of a bat, but his defense is solid and he does have some speed on the basepaths and a good eye for the strikezone. With all the other shortstops in the system Strickland is going to have to come up with something he hasn?t shown before in order to merit much attention. Tracy Ringolsby at the Rocky Mountain News suggested he might be moved behind the plate, but Casper has plenty of catchers already so I'm not seeing it until instructional league at least.

Third Base

Armando Polanco - I?m not even sure this is his position, but I?m only guessing as much since only Garner Wetzel has a frame to suggest moving to the hot corner and as he?s still unsigned... Polanco becomes a likely choice since he?s listed as an infielder. Other than that I?m lost trying to figure out stuff about him.

Outfield

Trevor Allen - Just what is a 25 year old doing in the Pioneer league? Isn?t that kind of like ?Old School? where some people just can?t let go of the most fun years of their lives? Just kidding Allen?s a local player (undrafted free agent out of UNC and Haxtun High) who?s caught a break signing with the local team and once again would be the kind of heartwarming underdog story to root for even though his chances are slim.

Bret Berglund - Berglund was actually drafted, although he falls into that local boy made good category as well. He?s from Littleton and went to school with Blumenthal at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo after transgerring from the Sun Devils of ASU.

Jesse Brownell - even more local to Casper fans, Brownell is another undrafted free agent sign that should see some time in various posts.

Dexter Fowler - Finally we get to see the real return from the Larry Walker deal. Fowler projects as a true centerfielder with power who?s drawn comparisons to some of the best in the business (Andruw Jones for one). One of several reasons to pay attention to Casper this year.

Cole Garner - Ian Stewart?s high school teammate has taken a slow approach to his ascent but remains an interesting mix of tools that could develop into something very special. Watch for him and Fowler to rise on Rockies? prospect lists the next couple of years.

Mauris Loupadiere - I don?t know him, but he?s young, apparently from Panama but with a French name, so Panama might have just been an interim stop and listed as an outfielder. He?s not well developed physically at all at 6'1" 150 lbs, so I don?t know what to expect.