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Thursday Pebble Report:

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Colorado Springs: W 9-2

Ian Stewart, Seth Smith and Jayson Nix all homered and had a pair of hits for the Sky Sox to help drive some uncharacteristic high scoring at Tacoma. Sean Smith pitched six and two thirds, allowing two runs to pick up the win. Would he be a better option than Mark Redman? I'd say probably not, while Smith has an advantage in run prevention, he's done it by avoiding good hitters, which won't be as effective a strategy with the quality of the MLB. While this is exactly the strategy that Redman depoys, Mark's got the added advantages of experience and his left arm. Still the differences between the two might not amount to much. Since Redman isn't likely to factor into the team's 2009 plans, but Smith most likely is, the decision to call up Redman to replace Francis might be lacking foresight. Since 2008 is pretty much a total wash out, I'd rather the team spend its efforts on prepping for 2009, including giving guys like Smith some needed big league experience when the opportunity arises.

Instead, the Rockies moves seem to have a lot to do with replacing one defective part with the part that's most similar to that part. Never mind that because of the similarities the parts may well be defective in exactly the same way. Of course, going to a Cook, Jimenez, JDLR, Reynolds, Smith rotation for a few weeks would be a PR hit (Cook and the uncooked?) but let's face it, replacing Smith with Redman in that five doesn't make it look any prettier.

Tulsa: Off

Modesto: W 5-3

Andrew Johnston had such a horrendous year in 2007 that I've probably been subconciously avoiding talking about his 2008, but it's hard not to notice the 0.83 ERA and the seventeen saves and the 65% GB rate which has allowed him to post one of the lowest H/9 rates in the California League despite a defense that doesn't have the best range behind him. I think I'm okay allowing him back into my prospect radar right now.

Keith Weiser started the game that Johnston saved, and started it well, pitching seven innings while allowing just five hits and a walk. Matt Repec hit a three run homer as part of a four run fourth, and a Victor Ferrante triple in the ninth plated the last run for the Nuts.

Asheville: Off

Tri-City: W 13-0

Despite a .226 average, 24th round pick Thomas Field had the second best OBP on the team heading into yesterday's game, but perhaps somewhat surprisingly he also was the team's second best RBI producer. That meant that either he had been remarkable clutch or was really good at drawing the bases loaded walk. If you've been watching the box scores you'll know it's more of that first category, and as if to emphasize the point he came through with six more RBI yesterday, including two off a first inning, two out double and three more off a bases loaded double in the fourth. With 14 RBI on the season now, he's no longer the Dust Devils second best in that category.

In his two prior appearances in relief, Brad McAtee was probably not as good as his sparkilng ERA would have you believe, but he was just as good yesterday as the five scoreless innings, four hits (all singles), one walk, three strikeout appearance looks. Jeffrey Murphy, on the other hand, has probably been better than his 4.26 ERA, yesterday he pitched three scoreless in relief, also struck out three and allowed just one hit. In all, opposing batters are hitting just .095 off of him this season.

Casper: L 4-12

Matt Baugh handed Casper's bullpen a 4-2 lead, and Chad Rose and Eric Schaler took a hammer to it. Rose had his initiation to what sort of pain can be inflicted on pitchers in the Pioneer League if they make too many mistakes, giving up six in the seventh inning. Schaler, who's no virgin to that pain, gave up four more in the eighth. The shell shocked Ghosts offense didn't recover. Nick Valdez hit his second homerun as part of a two hit day.