So we wrap this series up with a look at the final way-station before Coors Field and look how our boys just down I-25 wound up faring. AAA is usually the haven of journeymen, fringe MLB veterans looking to catch on with a club for one last dance. Teams typically fill it via a couple dozen minor league invites before Spring and leftovers from their own system who haven't quite caught on. Colorado Springs had a few of those types, but there was an atypically high amount of legitimate prospects playing at Security Service Field this year. Perhaps the team's relative youth also played a part in the somewhat disappointing season and second place divisional finish.
Best Position Prospect: Ian Stewart.
Stew is a great defender at third. He's going to be at least an average offensive third baseman, and there's still an okay chance he could be considerably more than that. He came back from a slow start to put up so-so numbers for the Sky Sox. Of course, if you follow prospects, you know you have to fill in the rest of the buts about his performance never quite living up to the hype, hitter's parks, yada yada yada. If you watch him play from a scout's perspective, you know there's still a tremendous amount of talent there. Herein lies the rub.
Very Honorable Mention: Seth Smith
Smith's little squib yesterday looks like another line drive in the box score, but his other hits for the Rox have all been of the well struck variety. Since his LASIK surgery, he's become a high contact gap finding machine. I'm very glad his Rockies career is starting off so well, because the reality is that he's likely to be a full time corner outfielder for us by 2009, be it right or left field, and we all know what that means.
Other Honorable Mentions: Joe Koshansky, Jayson Nix, Joe Gaetti.
Nix parlayed his solid season into an appearance with Team USA, Koshansky got a call-up to the bigs and his first MLB hit. Gaetti's still waiting, but these three have potential to be important figures to the 2008 Rockies team. The first two in particular are in positions where the team might need them as injury fills for Todd Helton or whoever mans second base next season. All three will be in the age range where they should be peaking offensively over the next couple of seasons.
Best Prospect: Ubaldo Jimenez.
U-ball is on the eve of his most important start career to date, just after making his last most important start career to date on Sunday. And the two starts before that ranked number one at the time he made them also. He's getting educated very fast and he's become a reliable big game pitcher in that span.
Honorable Mention: Ryan Speier, Josh Newman.
Two relief arms. I like Speier better as an effective middle reliever, Newman seems to be just a situational lefty at this point, but he could be a pretty decent one.
Others to note: Colorado Springs is filled with players of potential value who no longer qualify as prospects. For example, here are a couple of players who I've long liked but never really expected much out of. Two swing starters who put up some really impressive GB ratios for the Sky Sox were Mike Esposito and Marc Kaiser. Neither really have the stuff of other arms in the system, but I'm liking how they've developed late into pitch to contact guys. With the humidor and the better surface at Coors, they probably could put up numbers as good as what they did in Colorado Springs right now. Let's see if next season they can improve on that a couple of ticks to become money saving innings eaters for the big club.