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Wednesday Pebble Report: Happy International Signing Day!

Happy International Signing Day! A couple things to note about the Rockies that we've learned in years past:

  1. Don't expect the team to be in on the biggest fish or perhaps even mentioned at all in important signings today. While the buscones have been busy playing relative newcomers to the market -such as the A's, Padres and Pirates- for some huge dollars this year, if we know anything about our team, huge dollars and Rockies don't usually mix that well.
  2. Don't expect the team to be considered by big media outlets like Baseball America or ESPN Deportes as having one one of the better classes.
  3. Do expect the Rockies to have one of the better classes anyway. The Rockies make their talent fortune by building strong scout/family realtions, hiding some jewels that not a lot of other teams are in on, and just having an overall top notch player evaluation team down there.
  4. Do expect us to be writing about the players the Rockies sign in this class a couple of seasons from now. While Carlos Martinez was one of those big fish, others in the system were not. Jhoulys Chacin came out of nowhere and look where he's at right now. Juan Nicasio leads the Northwest League in strikeouts. Wilin Castillo is the leading catching prospect in the Pioneer League as a 19 year old. Eliezer Mesa has an MLB pedigree but wasn't heavily recruited and while slumping lately, has shown promise in Casper. Our DSL team is showing more potential as well, for instance, 18 year old Juan Croussett, one of the league leaders with a .403 wOBA while playing half his games in a relatively pitcher friendly environment.

Colorado Springs: L 2-12, W 4-1

In the first game, Cory Sullivan, Jayson Nix and Ian Stewart were the only Sky Sox to get hits, Sullivan's a two run homer. Kip Wells allowed all twelve runs in two and a third innings. In the second game, Seth Smith and Joe Koshansky each had two hits, Koshansky also had two more RBI to bring him up to 78 for the season. Jason Hirsh had his best start of his short season to date, a six inning, five hit, one walk effort to pick up the win.

Tulsa: L 2-10

Dexter Fowler had two hits on a night they were hard to come by, including his sixth triple of the season, and scored one of Tulsa's runs. Tony Blanco scored the other on a solo homerun. Alan Johnson and Adam Bright were both considerably less effective than they've been of late, Johnson gave up six of the opposition's runs, Bright four.

Modesto: L 3-0

Chacin the Machine made his California League debut in style, shutting out Stockton for eight innings, and maintaining the 2-1 GB-FB rate he had in Asheville. He allowed five hits and a walk and struck out eight retiring sixteen straight hitters at one point. Andrew Johnston pitched a perfect ninth for his 16th save of the season.

Nick Haley tripled home Mike McKenry and Victor Ferrante in the seventh and then scored himself on a double play a couple of batters later for the three runs. McKenry finished with three walks, My Farm Report this week at the Rocky Mountain News discusses McKenry, who had a sensational (and somewhat unsustainable) month of June at the plate and has been doing it all season on defense.

Brian VanderBeek blogs that Cole Garner is nearing readiness to return to the lineup finally. Speaking of VanderBeek, while doing the research for the McKenry post, the one past Modesto catcher I found him to be most comparable to at the plate offensively was John Suomi, who had a breakout season for the Nuts when they were an A's affiliate in 2004 (Omar Quintanilla played on that team) but had his career derailed by a mostrous collision at the plate with Reggie Abercrombie in the California League playoffs. He missed all of 2005, and hasn't been the same hitter since, although he's still playing in the Phillies system. A good story by Batter's Box Interactive details the collision, gets VanderBeek's thoughts on Suomi, and points to what might have been. Since McKenry has his health and a better defensive profile, the comparisons Thomas makes with Suomi apply just as well to Mike. It looks like McKenry on a trajectory to be at least an above average backup in the big leagues, and could be a starter for teams that can afford a little less offense behind the plate. Right now, the Rockies aren't in that latter category, but his defensive value plus pop still makes him a much better prospect than a lot of fans probably realize.

Asheville: W 12-6

Apparently the Classic Country that Joe Mikulik has been playing before Tourists games to motivate the team is finally working, as the T's busted out for five homeruns last night. Jeff Cinningham had a pair of them, walked twice and drove in four. Brian Rike, Kevin Clark and Lars Davis each had one HR. Clark also added a double, single and walk and Helder Velzquez added two doubles as the offense romped. Bruce Billings was one out away from a quality start, pitching five and two-thirds innings and allowing three runs with seven strikeouts. Two of the runs came just before he was pulled in the sixth, otherwise his line would have looked a lot better. Craig Rodriguez, Craig Baker and Randall Taylor finished the game just to get some work in, Taylor allowed a two run homer in the ninth to make the game look closer than it really was.

Tri-City:  L 3-5

Josh Sullivan struggled some more in his rehab effort, lasting just three and two thirds innings and giving up four runs. The bullpen did a good job of holding from there, but the deficit was just too much to overcome in a locale that can be cruel to hitters. Johnny Bowden finished a homerun short of the cycle and Charlie Blackmon hit his fourth double of the season, but there were no other standout performances for the Dust Devils.

Casper: L 3-5

"You can't walk off the island."

Casper's not surrounded by water as the Dominican is, but as conversation in last night's game thread alluded to, the Wyoming countryside that surrounds it is so desolate it might as well be, so the axiom* may well still apply. We have a good test case: Alex Feinberg has played just seven games this season, and he's drawn a walk in six of them and has a very backwards looking (for Rockies prospects, certainly) 7/1 BB/K ratio. Unfortunately for the test, he's been hitting well also, going two for two yesterday, and he sports a robust .467 average thus far. Speaking of hitting oneself off the island, Angelys Nina did precisely that last year, and yesterday he took a step toward staying stateside by connecting for his first HR with the Ghosts.

Ethan Hollingsworth had an okay start for the Pioneer League, allowing four runs on eight hits in five innings. He struck out six and walked just one and yielded only two doubles on mistake pitches, but obviously the runs he did allow were too much in the loss.