Colorado Springs: Word is that Ian Stewart will be riding yesterday's three hit performance to his first cup of coffee with the Rockies. Okay, the word comes from one of our frequent readers here in the comments, but the source is at least blog post worthy. The bad news in that scenario is that it would mean that either Todd Helton's back spasms or Jeff Baker's mild concussion are more significant injuries than the press machine for the club is indicating. It makes some sense to call up Stewart over Joe Koshansky, particularly in the case of an injury to Baker, as Ian would provide more versatility as a reserve for either third or first (by moving Atkins over) whereas Koshansky could only fill in at one position, and as a pinch-hitter Stew's quicker bat would also be considered more useful against late inning relievers.
The Sky Sox game also provided glimpses at other potential fills with Brian Fuentes' strong rehab effort and Elmer Dessens' three inning, one hit performance. Dessens or Steve Trachsel as starters represent desperation moves on the part of the club, let's be perfectly honest that both are well past their glory days, but assuming that Franklin Morales is unready, the front office doesn't have much more choice than to take a flyer on other teams' rejects. The good thing is that there seem to be plenty of rejects out there, let's hope the Rox scouts have done their homework.
Tulsa: At this point in the season, I look at the teams to see who the Rockies can expect to help the MLB club from the farm in the years the various classes figure on being at the AAA level. In 2008's case, there is at least some reason for optimism, the roles where we'll have help available are important but at the same time, there are issues.
For a starter, we should have Greg Reynolds. I'd like more here, but Samuel Deduno still seems a couple of seasons away and Ching-Lung Lo and Ryan Mattheus might be best suited for middle relief in the majors and they too seem a couple of seasons from contributing. Late relief promises Juan Morillo (who pitched a scoreless inning yesterday) and Darren Clarke who have the power arms to be ready soon, while others might need more development. Luckily Casey Weathers should rise to readiness with this class by next season as well.
Position players, on the other hand, seem to promise a lot of bench players but no real impact bats that would threaten the guys we already have. The closest to starting caliber play is in the middle of the diamond, where Jonathan Herrera and Corey Wimberly have enough tools to normally merit attention, but neither will displace Tulo and both would have to make significant progress to merit attention for second base. Matt Macri and Matt Miller could also be valuable in PH/utility roles at the MLB level, but most of the others like Chris Frey (who had three hits yesterday) have an uphill battle to get that far. Is this enough? Given that there will also be carryover help from this year's Colorado Springs squad, I'm going to say yes, but the stream will be slowing down after that.
Modesto: So in 2009, Brandon Hynick seems likely to be ready for primetime. Hynick pitched solidly again yesterday, but the guy on the other side pitched better in a three to nothing loss. Other starters in Modesto's rotation seem talented, but 2010 appears to be the earliest they'd be read without significant jumps in development. The one exception to that would be Alan Johnson, who just needs to prove his command can carry him at higher levels, but doesn't figure to refine as Roe, Durden or Cedeno are capable of. The good thing about that is the timetable could be accelerated for him, the bad thing is a limited ceiling that might stop him just short.
Chris Nelson also seems to be a "help in 2009" possibility, as does Eric Young, but the two are taking different paths to get there and both might wind up colliding at the same position. Nelson is the first round talent that scouts love, but whose performance in two seasons at Asheville left stats guys unimpressed. Suddenly they're paying attention again now that he's starting to turn some of his tools into skills. His glovework has never lived up to what his toolbox says it should at shortstop, so a position move seems likely.
Young has never impressed scouts because he's short. The stats crowd has a natural distrust of prolific base-stealers until they show Rickey Henderson power and patience, so they aren't jumping on the bandwagon either. For the second year in a row, he's coming on strong in the second half after a very slow start. The question I have now that it has happened twice is if this is a sign of development, or if he's just a Garrett Atkins-like slow starter. The latter scenario would indicate a more concrete cap on his development potential than the former, so at Tulsa next season how he gets out of the gate will be important to watch. Young had steal #63 yesterday, but also errors #19 and #20 in the loss.
Dexter Fowler lost a lot of development time this year, and right now I'm not comfortable putting him in that 2009 category. As for other position players, Jeff Kindel seems most likely at this point to be ready by 2010, but Daniel Carte just needs to show he has the ability to lay off of bad pitches without sacrificing his power and contact (easy stuff, I know) to take off rapidly.
Asheville: From Asheville and lower, I'm not big on putting projected time frames unless the players are particularly polished. Weathers, Keith Weiser (who won his fourteenth start yesterday) and Michael Paulk all seem to have the skills plus polish necessary to enter a 2010 or earlier conversation. Everybody else has too much to prove still. Don't get over-eager for Hector Gomez yet. Josh Sullivan appeared for the second time after his injury lay-off and this one went much better than the first. He pitched an inning, and though he had to face six batters with a hit and a walk allowed, he got through it unscathed.
Tri-City: Sheng An Kuo seems to be coming full circle in the short-season league. After starting with some impressive results and peripheral stats, he collapsed completely for several games and was pulled from the rotation. Yesterday he had his groove back on, with ten ground outs to four flies and Tri-City won, four to two. A four run second was highlighted by a Lars Anderson bases loaded single that plated two.
Casper: They played a game at Casper, and they lost again, nine to two.