I've got a lot to get through this morning, starting with a couple of questions I had the opportunity to ask Rockies assistant GM Bill Geivett regarding the state of our minor league pitching:
In April, you had mentioned to a SABR meeting that our pitchers on the farm were still trying to catch up to the hitting, yet early on this season, the opposite seems to be true, particularly with the starts of Greg Reynolds, Brandon Hynick and others on the mound. Has the development of any of these guys surprised you?
Geivett:What I was speaking to in the SABR meeting was that I think we have hitters throughout the organization, from Rookie through 3A, where our starting pitching and true depth might be a year away from being solid throughout all levels. We have had some very good early season performances from our pitching and I don't mean to slight their ability but until some of our younger starters are at 3A, I think we still have a bit of a gap to truly become a self-sufficient organization. If Morales and Reynolds can earn their way to 3A this season, I thnk we will have made significant progress in that regard.
Another question I have is what the organization thinks about Alan Johnson, who's stuff doesn't earn rave reviews from scouts or the media like BA, but he has performed very well at several different levels now. Is he just a minor league arm that won't get past major league hitters?
Geivett: Alan Johnson has great pitchability. He may not throw 95 mph but his command of solid stuff has to be recognized, although most scouts and publications dismiss pitchability and command until it's successful at higher levels. It's much sexier to like a guy that throws hard or has great potential, even if that potential is never realized. Watch an MLB game and the velocities of starting pitching, most guys are around 90 mph with good command of usually 3 pitches, as Johnson does. He has to prove himself at higher levels but I think he has the command/composure to do it, we'll see.
I'd like to thank Mr. Geivett for answering these questions for me.
Colorado Springs: The Sky Sox had their contest with New Orleans cancelled.
Tulsa: A nice, albeit not too deep start by Ching Lung Lo was derailed by a rare Drillers bullpen collapse, and the Midland RockHounds defeated Tulsa 7-5. Lo pitched five and two thirds innings, giving up five hits, two walks and just one run, while striking out four. The Drillers pounded out seven doubles, including two by Jonathan Herrera, but couldn't contain Midland late. Herrera's bat had been cold of late, so let's hope this is a sign that he's getting back on track offensively. Of course, his defense is always sound, check out the spiffy photo of him turning the double play at the Tulsa World.
Modesto: Chaz Roe was outduelled by D-backs' prospect, Dallas Buck, and Modesto lost a five to two contest to Visalia. Despite taking his seventh "L" of the season to go along with only one "W", Roe's pitching has really been much better than that makes it sound. He's combined several stellar outings with a few clunkers (4 out of his last 10 could be labelled this way) but hasn't received the run support when he's been on his A game. He still needs more BB/K ratios like yesterday's 2/7, but note that opponents are only hitting .189 off of him. If he can gain some command and keep his pitches in the zone a bit more, he's going to escape more often than not without a lot of damage.
Jose Valdez tripled and Jeff Kindel homered for the only two extra base hits of the evening, as Buck struck out seven nuts in seven innings.
Asheville: In the first question for Geivett, I was referring somewhat to titan's diary of a SABR meeting with him in April. In that diary you'll note Geivett's success stories with converting second basemen to catchers in Jorge Posada and Michael Barrett, so I probably should have asked him if he thinks a similar move could be made by the Mayora of Asheville down the road. Given how many middle infielders we have in the system right now, it was just a thought that occurred to me after I had already asked other questions. At any rate, Daniel went three for four yesterday with a walk and a homerun, keying the Tourists' 11-6 victory. Michael Paulk also homered and doubled, and Michael McKenry went three for four as well. Esmil Rogers made his 2007 starting debut after pitching an inning in relief earlier, and he fared pretty well. Rogers pitched six innings, giving up eight hits and two walks, three runs, and struck out five. Andy Graham moved to the bullpen and also gave up three runs in the final three frames.
Draft: Walt Weiss will represent the Rockies at next week's amateur player draft. We'll be doing some rapid fire analysis of all the Rockies picks here at Purple Row, so be sure to check back often.
Correction: Finally, in comments to Sunday's thread I had said that Scott Boras was Andrew Miller's agent, when in fact, his agent is Mark Rogers. Miller and Rogers have vehemently denied the Peter Gammons reported allegation that Miller wouldn't sign with the Rockies due to concerns over last year's Bob Nigtengale article on the role of religion in the Rox clubhouse.