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Saturday Pebble Report:

Colorado Springs: The Sky Sox' lineup is certainly heating up with the summer, and several players are worth getting a little excited over. This might surprise some of you, but this includes Clint Barmes, whose OBP is still over .380 and who seems to have finally broken out of the season and a half long funk that had him severely underperforming for the Rockies at the plate last year. The possibility of Kaz Matsui's departure this upcoming offseason should have us looking for a legit replacement, and truthfully, Barmes is probably the only guy in the system capable of at least mostly filling those shoes. As long as he maintains these solid contact rates with the sidecar of patience that he's shown this season, his bat will do fine at the MLB level.

Ian Stewart, on the other hand, should have a bat that does more than fine on the MLB level, and he too, is finally starting to show what he's capable of. Stew hit his third homerun in the last two days, doubling his season total. Yes the games were at Colorado Springs, but being totally dismissive of anything that's accomplished at a player's home stadium is reckless, regardless of how it plays. I'll bring up this point again in a little bit with Daniel Mayora, but it's not so cut and dry as basing a prospect evaluation solely on road performance. For example, these homeruns have been hit off left handed pitchers, which should have an advantage over the left handed hitting Stewart. He's got a very odd reverse split this season, however, smashing LHP's, while being ordinary vs RHP's. Given his talent, I'm seeing Ian's right hand pitcher performance as more a fluke than the left hand performance. I think we're seeing the beginning of a breakout.

Seth Smith, meanwhile, is already in the middle of a breakout, hitting .441 over the last ten games (including eight road games) with an OBP of .525. Not a whole lot of power, two doubles and two homeruns out of fifteen hits, but Smith's not really destined to be a power hitter, 1/10 extra base hits/plate appearance sounds right for his line drive swing. He had two hits and a walk and scored three runs yesterday.

Tulsa: Ching Lung Lo took the loss, but he's finally showing signs of adjusting to the AA level, going six innings with nine hits allowed and four runs, but a 7/1 K/BB ratio and an 8/3 GB/FB ratio. Five of the nine hits allowed were also on the ground, with the rest being line drives. Matt Macri hit two doubles, I'm hoping it's a sign he's breaking out of a slump at the plate of late. Macri played shortstop as Jonathan Herrera sat, which might have helped contribute at least one of the GB hits given up by Lo.

Modesto: Xavier Cedeno has stuff to be a very decent pitcher. Every now and then he flashes it, and then every so often he has starts like yesterday's where he walks five in five innings and allows three runs. Dodgers prospect Blake DeWitt homered off of him for one of the three. Eric Young and Dexter Fowler both reached twice by a single and walk, Fowler also stole a base, but really there weren't many other highlights on offense unless you count Jeff Dragicevich's two hits.

Asheville: More highlights on offense here, Daniel Mayora hit a two run homerun in both of his first two plate appearances, and the Tourists would beat Hickory, ten to three. With Mayora, the context that needs to be kept in mind for this season is that he's coming off of a stellar year in the pitching friendly Northwest League, so it's easier to consider the home heavy performance of this season in a positive light than it is of Anthony Jackson, who's Tri-City stint was underwhelming. I'm willing to give Daniel the benefit of the doubt in this case, and he'll be in my top 20 PuRPs.

Andy Graham returned to the rotation with a flourish, pitching six strong innings, allowing just five hits and striking out eight. He had been scuffling in a couple of previous appearances, so this is nice to see. As his 5.93 ERA indicates, he's been hit or miss this year.

Matt Repec, Jay Cox and Hector Gomez all also had multi-hit games, and Craig Baker had a three inning save in relief of Graham, but his line shows way too many baserunners allowed, still. Asheville remains 3 1/2 games out of an exciting pennant race, as Augusta also won.