Colorado Springs: Including last night's loss, the Sky Sox now have the PCL's third worst record on the season at 37-52. Of our divisional opponents, only the Giants' Fresno affiliate has a worse record. Of course, it took an eight game losing streak by the Grizzlies (snapped by their 12-2 victory over the Springs last night) to drop past us. The loaded Diamondbacks affiliate in Tucson is currently faring best, which is why in terms of winning the division this year it's important for the Rockies and the rest of the NL West to remove Arizona from the competition as far before September call-ups as possible.
Colorado Springs seems particularly weak in batting stats, for a team that plays in the league's best hitting environment to be rated middle of the pack in most offensive categories is pretty bad. Pitching isn't that much better, but there are a couple of signs we might actually be able to get a little help from there come September. Specifically Justin Hampson and the return of Sunny Kim. Of course, the best scenario has recent arrivals Ubaldo Jimenez and Manuel Corpas meriting the call to the bigs. Offensively, don't expect many call-ups outside of the familiar Ryan Spilborghs, Jeff Baker, Omar Quintanilla, Jeff Salazar and Chris Iannetta group. Ryan Shealy will likely be traded, but I suspect at least one of the other four not named Iannetta to be in a different organization before call-ups occcur.
Tulsa: The Drillers are already suffering from the promotion of three key figures of their playoff clinching first half team, staggering to a 6-9 start and four games out of the division lead. We knew the lineup was stacked (the Drillers still lead the league in OPS and SLG) but team defense is also one of the team's strong points, as characterized by the fact they've allowed the fewest hits despite pedestrian K totals.
As far as our divisional rivals go, obviously nobody matches up on offense, although looking at the stats you'd think the Dodgers' Jacksonville affilate has some scary good pitchers, until you realized that many of them are a little mature to still be considered prospects. Justin Orenduff will probably be be the best of the bunch, there. This of course bodes well for 2007 although there might not be as much help from here this year as we'd like. It's interesting that we're the only NL West team in the Texas League, simliarly San Francisco hides its AA talent way out East in Connecticut.
Modesto: A much better head to head feel of how we stack up can be gained in the California League. As far as our 2006 High A level prospects go, that feeling isn't very promising. It's not that the record's that bad, it's just that it's hard to see that bright a future for many of our prospects here. The good news is that except for the very raw but potential filled Vero Beach(coincidentally the one team we can't make head to head comps with) team for the Dodgers, most of the division is in the same boat. Diamondbacks fans would probably take issue with that, but be very wary of any hitting prospects coming out of Lancaster, a park that masks more flaws than my Bare Escentuals foundation powder. More intriguing to me are a couple of their pitchers, but the next bump to AA will be more telling of who's for real.
Anyway, our pitching at Modesto (Morales, Lo -who made his second strong start in a row last night- Deduno, Bright, Mattheus) appears on the right track, and obviously we're all eager for the debut of our number one pick Greg Reynolds tonight. San Diego and LA also both have fairly strong staffs at this level, it could prove an interesting twist on the divisional races in 2008 and 2009 when a lot of these players start to appear in the Bigs.
Asheville: Speaking of 2009, this exercise has made me feel better with where things are headed as far as our Tourist team is concerned. Again our pitching is a strength when compared to our divisional rivals, and our hitters, although still somewhat raw, match up strongly as well. Tonight the Tourists start a series with the Giants' Augusta affiliate, and just comparing the rosters you'll see that we're a year younger on average, with a higher ceiling to boot. The Dodgers' Columbus team similarly is older with less potential impact (granted, this is because most of their young, impactful players are actually a level ahead at Vero Beach) than Asheville. Both the Padres and Diamondbacks have affiliates in the Midwest League, and outside of Justin Upton, there just isn't a lot of umph there. Bottom line, is with all these teams it's too early to tell, still, but I like how high the potential is with Asheville.
I'm going to forego going over the short season rosters in a similar fashion until after the season. Read the recaps (big night for Jay Cox for Casper, and unfortunately for Tri-City another not so big night from anybody) by following the links to the right.