Ian Stewart leads Modesto's hopeful run to the playoffs
I'm completely unispired to write up a proper rundown of yesterday's action all down the system, so instead will focus on the current state of what's probably the Rockies' premiere prospect showcase right now in the hotter than Hades Central Valley of California.
The Nuts themselves are about as hot, jumping out to a seventeen and six second half record as they prepare to battle the second place Stockton Ports in a series that starts tonight. Modesto's lineup has been stacked all season with some of our system's most powerful bats in Ian Stewart, Joe Gaetti, Christian Colonel and Seth Smith as well as one of our system's best and most polished at hitting for average in Chris Ianetta. Departure Matt Macri has been replaced by promising upstart Troy Tulowitzki and Jud Thigpen's missing bat has been made up for by the restored health of Stewart and the surprising emergence of Michael Davies as a legitimate position player after he started his professional career with the Rox as a pitcher. Another tough loss via promotion was OBP machine Jordan Czarniecki who has been replaced at the top of the order by infielder Jonathan Herrera, who along with Stewart and Tulo is one of the youngest players on the Nuts' roster and a promising leadoff hitter, though obviously not as high profile as the other two first round draft picks.
The keys to their second half success thus far include better pitching from the bottom of the rotation, with Aaron Marsden and Steven Register improving the most while Juan Morillo and Marc Kaiser continue to do well at the top. Another important factor has been Stewart and the infield's improved defense (still not where we'e like it to be, though) and of course the re-emergence of his bat. How the Nuts cope with the promotion and loss of staff ace Ubaldo Jiminez will determine a great deal of where they finish in the standings, look to Morillo to step up to the challenge laid out for him.
Will Der Kaiser become the ace? Probably not, but hey, he still has those beautiful eyes to fall back on.
Also look to twenty-one year old Alberto Arias to get more starts now that Jiminez has moved on. Arias' last start went very well and his solid -albeit unspectacular- pitching in the past shows enough peripherally for him to be an interesting and potentially emerging prospect in the system. Recent call up Darren Clarke should add another solid piece to an already well stocked bullpen. Already Modesto has one of Colorado's top bullpen prospects in Harry Potter fan, Jim Miller, as well as some intriguing set-up men in Jason Burch and Joshua Newman and live arms with heat, Eudy Morel and Manuel Corpas.
The Nuts have performed so well of late, it's hard to single out anybody who I would really refer to as a disappointment. Perhaps Marsden or Register earlier in the season, but both have been showing signs of improvement. Newman's had some control problems of late which hadn't affected him before, so that might be something to look for as well. Injuries are definitely a concern with this team, Ianetta, Czarniecki and Stewart all missed significant time to start the season, and right now the Nuts are playing without Tulo or Gaetti among others, so hopefully that improves as well.
If you want to know what's happening elsewhere, you can check out the team sites, I'll finally put up links for them later this afternoon. Also be sure to check out this article on Samuel Deduno if you get the chance.