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Tagging the Minors: Week One

A week into the season is too early to really look at any individual statistics as meaningful, but clustering groups together is a way to start to see emergent patterns. For instance, take a look at last night's box score for the Tourists and notice the feast or famine averages (mostly famine) in the column to the right. The players who have been having the most success early (Jason van Kooten, Phillip Cuadrado) aren't elite skill set players, even though both bear watching for filling future utility needs. The fact that so many of the rest are having difficulty making meaningful contact shows the weakness of last year's draft for position players outside of top pick Troy Tulowitzky. Two players from the previous year's draft give Asheville some intrigue. Dexter Fowler is a glimmer of hope, with the isolated power his two opening day homeruns bring, but he's still so raw as to be likely several seasons away. Chris Nelson remains a tricky nut to crack: still too young to be written off, but he needs to be dominating pitchers at the same level he was at a year ago for us to have confidence in his development. Thus far, that hasn't happened.

Pitching seems to be Asheville's strong suit this year, but only Xavier Cedeno and Zach Simons seem to qualify as potential big league rotation candidates, and both at the lower end at the moment. Cedeno's kind of interesting, as his ceiling could move him anywhere from middle of the rotation to set-up/late inning reliever as well as several spots in between. For safety, though, I'm projecting him to be a spot starter/long relief guy at the moment, but he's definitely one to watch. Simons will likely be more similar to Jamey Wright than Aaron Cook as far as I can tell so far.

Modesto shows a similar weakness to Asheville of lacking elite skills at the plate, and combining the two single A clubs, the lack of quality outfield depth in the lower system is quickly emerging as one of the Rockies' biggest farm concerns, as is help for the top of the lineup. The acquisition of Doc Brooks does seem to help the outfield problem a little. Samuel Deduno is showing a lot more polish than Ubaldo Jiminez and Juan Morillo did last year, I hope it means he can move more quickly through the system than those two have. I am finally starting to be a bit impressed by Ryan Mattheus, and he's showing why it's good to be patient with pitching prospects. I still see him as most likely going to the pen in the majors, but at least I right now I see him as possibly getting some service time there.

Tulsa's story is different, our prized infield prospects have shown positive steps, and Chris Iannetta continues to be an OBP machine. What's more, some of the less hyped prospects like Jordan Czarniecky have adjusted to AA early as well, giving a robust overall picture that the team is living up to the hype. Driller pitchers haven't caught up yet, and some of the lines and reports of lost stuff actually seem to indicate there might be some unseen injury concerns in the rotation.

The Sky Sox are basically used as the Rockies' reserve corps the last few years, the team has used it mostly as a final tune-up and training grounds for its young players and a place to stockpile bullpen arms. Most of the players here should be ready for the show at any time, and in that regard I think the Sky Sox' season to date has been pretty awful. So far it seems like only Ryan Spillborghs is ready, and the call-up of Ramon Ramirez (ostensibly due to the fact that he's already on the roster) might be a tell that our bullpen reserves are lacking. Not good, shape it up guys.