Colorado Springs: With Ryan Spillborghs, Jeff Baker, and Ryan Shealy back in the lineup, the Sky Sox are suddenly a much more formidable team than they have been the last two weeks. Last night those three combined to go seven for fourteen, with two doubles, and though I'm not entirely certain how this is even possible, a triple from Shealy. Jorge Piedra and JD Closser each also had two hits including homeruns, and with Danny Ardoin continuing to press in the bigs you have to wonder how long it will be before Closser returns. I still don't know if it's that great an idea yet, but JD is doing all the right things to make it an issue. Miguel Asencio gave up four runs in his return to AAA, but considering the altitude induced offense that was on display in the Sky Sox' thirteen to eight win, four runs over five innings isn't quite as rough an outing as it sounds.
Tulsa: Yesterday the Drillers' vaunted offense was silenced by Texas prospect John Danks, striking out ten times in six innings against him. It was definitely Danks' most effective outing of the year to date, so it's a bummer his turnaround happened against us. The two to one loss washed out another hard to read Juan Morillo start. Morillo only gave up two runs but also only got through four and a third, giving up six hits. Despite throwing mostly strikes, his pitches are still a little up (he had a two to eight GB/FB ratio) and from what I understand, he still has trouble keeping batters off the plate. Troy Tulowitzki and Jud Thigpen had two hits apiece, albeit all seven Driller hits were singles - a kiss of death for this lineup of sluggers.
Modesto: A nice game all around, the question with Modesto today, though, is how seriously do we take Dragon Lo? You look at the usual numbers for last night and the season and nothing immediately jumps out at you as that special. He doesn't walk a lot of batters, but doesn't strike out a lot either. He allows a few hits, a couple of runs every time, but generally gets through without allowing the big inning every time out as well. And it's at this point that something, to me at least, clicks as worth monitoring.
Ching Lung Lo is still one of the younger pitchers in the Rockies' system, so personally, I'd expect a disaster outing or two. And yet, here are the final scores of each of his six outings (five starts, one long relief usage after a Scott Dohmann rehab appearance) this year with Modesto's score always listed first: 5-2, 7-3, 7-5, 3-2, 6-5 and then last night, Modesto won again 4-1. The fact that the Nuts are undefeated with Lo on the mound is a nice side note, but to me, the emerging consistency trumps that. I suspect from this that Lo is learning how to pitch and not just throw down there and putting things together in his head. So last night I see he only struck out four in seven innings, but that he also only allowed four hits and a walk, and had a 15-3 GB/FB ratio. Both Dragon and Ryan Mattheus have seemingly shown signs of great progress with the mental game this year and I think we have to give manager Chad Kreuter and his staff a lot of credit for that.
Asheville: Also showing progress this year is Xavier Cedeno. Cedeno gave up just two hits over six innings, walking and striking out three to pick up the win. Chris Nelson (two doubles, 3 RBI), Kyle Blumenthal and Daniel Carte (two for four with a double) led the hit parade, as the Tourists pounded out fifteen on their way to a nine to three win.