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Pebble Report - Van Kooten says hello. Holliday rehabs at Tulsa

If you haven't had a chance to checkout yesterday's Daily Dish at Baseball America, do so now as it has a feature on U-ball and Juan Mo', as well as a little blip on Ryan Shealy as you scroll down.

Anyway, on to the game action, starting at Casper where Alan Johnson pitched and had another strong start for the junior Rockies who wound up winning long after he left behind Bret Berglund's dramatic twelfth inning three run shot. Chris Cook also homered and Kyle Blumenthal added three hits and EY Jr. two and a walk for the Caspies. Johnson's strong season makes him an intriguing sleeper for next year when he moves to full season ball, the 3/23 BB/K ratio is very good, as is the fact he's not giving up a lot in the hitter friendly Pioneer League, the problem is he's a bit mature so we'll see how he progresses.

A player I've been high on since we signed as a DFE last year, Jason Van Kooten, finally seems to be coming around strong in the Northwest. Yesterday in particular he let his presence be known with a five for six performance and two homeruns. Tri-City and the NWL aren't nearly as hitter oriented as the rest of the Rox' system, so that .302 AVG and .893 OPS are definitely impressive for a twenty year old shortstop there. If he's as good as these numbers indicate, then shortstop might quickly be surpassing third base and centerfield as the Rockies' deepest position talent-wise.

Asheville's own impressive young shortstop, Chris Nelson, didn't play yesterday and the Tourists lost, five to two. The player I do want to point out for Asheville is Kyle Wilson who had two hits and a walk playing right field last night. Wilson's been used as a catching/corner utility guy this season and has even pitched an inning as the link shows. Players like this (especially those with Kyle's power) are also highly coveted and Wilson has to be watched as a potentially important part of the Rockies' bench in years to come. He needs to cut back on his K's as it will only get trickier at higher levels, but keep an eye on him. Matt Miller also had two hits, but you probably could have guessed that on your own by now.

Modesto couldn't get around Garrett Mock and the Jet Hawks (sounds like a fifties era band, doesn't it? I think I'm going to go put on a poodle skirt and bobby socks now) and lost a close one, four to three. Mock's a top prospect for the D-backs, so it's nothing to be ashamed of. The Nuts started Alberto Arias, and he pitched quite well, giving up only five hits, two walks and two runs, while striking out five over six innings. I think he was subbing for the Futures Gamer Morillo who should be back later in the week. I have to say that I think a natural rivalry is starting to form in my mind with Arizona's club as I find myself disgusted anytime they or their affiliates win over our affiliates to a degree not common with other teams. Maybe the Giants, but I think that's just because my Dodger fan partner can't stand them and it rubs off on me. Anyway, I digress, Joe Gaetti had another big game, hitting a double and his fifteenth home-run in the ninth, a two run job to close the gap to its final margin. Seth Smith added his sixth earlier, but it wasn't enough to beat Lancaster. Hopefully Modesto pounds them tonight. Gaetti is so hot of late and cutting back on his strikeouts (he's only had a few of the eighty-three in this current tear) enough that he is really beginning to break out of his one dimensional past and becoming a more complete prospect to watch for as an alternative in our future corner outfield needs.

Finally, Tulsa won nine to five. Matt Holliday had two hits in his rehab start, but it wasn't enough to keep the Drillers' regular corners from outdoing him, Sean Barker went four for four with a triple and stolen base and Jud Thigpen went three for four with a homerun and double as the DH. Jayson Nix also had a pair of hits and the other Jud, Jud Songster, pitched two innings of scoreless relief in which he struck out four to back up the so-so seven inning outing by Sandy Nin. Thigpen's OBP has slid severely since being promoted from Modesto (his BB/K ratio was 21/35 with the Nuts, it's 2/17 since) but his power has somewhat surprisingly been more apparent at Tulsa.