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Friday Pebble Report: Old Tulsa, Young Asheville survey

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In today's Pebble Report, I decided to take a close look at near term position player help in Tulsa and distant help in Asheville and see what the stats are telling us. As could probably be expected with this franchise, the results are pretty mixed for both.

Colorado Springs: L 4-17

The Iowa Cubs scored 50 runs in a three game series against the Sky Sox, from which we can draw three conclusions:

  1. Chicago has impressive hitting depth.
  2. The Rockies have unimpressive starting pitching depth.
  3. Security Service Field is a launchpad.

I know, I know, those were all a big shock and you are wondering what kind of brilliance I posess to figure that stuff out, but I've got to tell you, uncovering hidden truths like that comes as a second nature to me. You might look at these box scores and think, "Fifty runs, well that's odd," but it takes a keenly observant mind like mine to look at that and reel off important truths like "Our pitching is bad, the opponents hitters are good, that ballpark allows a few more runs than normal." Yep. Paying me the big bucks for stuff like this.

Okay, so what you probably do want to know from me is why Carlos Gonzalez was pulled in the fifth inning after starting the game with a two run homer in the first. I don't know, I've been trying to figure that out this morning to little success. Mark Bellhorn, who I forget we have sometimes, replaced him in the lineup and hit a pair of doubles. Mike McCoy was the only Sky Sox pitcher to come up with a clean inning, pitching a perfect ninth. Earlier in the game he had two hits as the team's shortstop. It was the second consecutive game that Colorado Springs had to rely on a position player to pitch.

Tulsa: W 4-0

At least we have Tulsa pitching to be proud of. Samuel Deduno improved to 4-1 on the season with another very solid outing, he pitched seven innings allowing just three hits, three walks and struck out five. He had a 12-4 ground out to fly out ratio. Deduno's probably ready for a bump, but given the way Security Service Field is playing of late, he might be thankful that it hasn't come quite yet.

Deduno's peripheral's are nearly identical to what they were in 2007 when he had a higher ERA and struggled with the Drillers, the one key difference is that he seems to be doing a significantly better job of limiting the damage off contact at Driller Stadium. I'm assuming it's more than luck with BABIP, or maybe it was bad luck then, because this fits better with his overall career line and what we know of his pitches.


Taking Stock: Tulsa "Old" Corner Prospects

Below is a 24-year old and up Tulsa corner prospect table:

Name/Year Age AVG OBP SLG
Garner (2009) 24 .321 .352 .548
Kindel (2009-R) 25 .344 .436 .538
Paulk (2009) 25 .313 .411 .413
Carte (2009-R) 25 .269 .349 .409
Harvey (2009) 24 .220 .281 .439
Hafner (2001) 24 .282 .396 .545
Spilborghs (2005) 24 .341 .435 .525
Shealy (2004) 25 .318 .396 .584
Miller (2007) 24 .262 .337 .395
Koshansky (2006) 24 .284 .371 .526


An "R" indicates that the player is repeating at Tulsa this season.

Pronk and Spilborghs had enough to get into the majors and last for a few seasons at least, Hafner well enough to merit top ten MVP consideration in his prime. Shealy got to the MLB but a lack of defensive utility and a slow swing have made him familiar with the road between Omaha and Kansas City. Miller and Koshansky are also in a "just not enough" category, but without the cup of coffee to show for it so far.

So what I'm gleaning from this is that Carte and Harvey are extremely unlikely to make the MLB at this point. While not as in dire straits, Paulk's lack of punch makes him a poor fit at the top level as a first baseman. I do like the patience he displays and think he might be given a few MLB AB's at some point, but unless he really hits the ground running, I think that moment in the sun will be shortlived.

Garner conversely has the lowest isolated walk rate on this chart, but the second highest isolated slugging percentage to the one that Ryan Shealy put up in 2004. Right now, the power, average and bit of speed he has indicate he'll probably get to the MLB, his value there will be dependent on his ability to either improve or at the very least not see a regression in his walk and K rates as he climbs the last couple of steps up the ladder.

Kindel's season thus far has been pretty impressive. He has more walks than strikeouts and the 12/15 extra base hits to K's ratio isn't too shabby, either. Todd Helton's contract expires after 2011, will a 29 year old Kindel be one of the Rockies options at that point? After seriously looking at it this week, I'm starting to not think it as much of a stretch as I used to.

Kindel's isolated patience and slugging numbers are as good as Hafner's were, but he is repeating and because he was born in September the age is actually a 21 month difference at the level. For this reason, I want to see what sort of production Kindel puts up in Colorado Springs this year or perhaps even in a September call-up if the Rockies are out of contention. If he doesn't get a promotion, I think it would be a pretty clear sign that the Rockies aren't that enamored with his chances either.

Modesto: L 4-5, W 3-2

For the first four innings of his rehab assignment in Modesto, Greg Smith was flawless, in the last two he left a couple of pitches in spots where he shouldn't and Bakersfield took advantage with a homerun and triple. All told, though, the appearnce went about as well as we could have expected. Smith finished with six innings, four hits allowed (two GB singles after the solo HR in the fifth and the triple in the sixth), zero walks, three K's and a 61% GB rate. Maikol Gonzalez, Rhadames Nazario and Jason Van Kooten scored the Nuts runs in the victory, Brian Rike, Wilin Rosario and Michael Mitchell each drove one of those three in.

In the conclusion of a game started and suspended after five outs had been recorded on April 29, Cory Riordan gave up nine hits and a walk in five innings of work, but limited the damage to just three runs. Since Modesto had a two run handicap from the April 29th section of the game (they led 3-1 when it was suspended) thanks mostly do to a Rike two run homer, things were looking up, but they only managed one run in the resumed ten innings of play off Bakersfield: a fifth inning single by Hector Gomez, followed by a bothced pickoff attempt from the catcher moving Gomez to third and a Rike sac-fly. Lars Davis repaid the Blaze for the gift run by erring on a pickoff himself in the eleventh, after a sac bunt and intentional walk, a fly to Rike in right scored the winning run.

Asheville: L 3-2

 Ethan Hollinsworth got outduelled by 19 year old Braves prospect Zeke Spruill, hollingsworth pitched seven innings and only gave up three runs on six hits and zero walks with four strikeouts, but his opponent had one extra on him in every category save runs, where unfortunately he allowed one less. Kiel Roling had two hits, including a double, in the loss.


Taking Stock: Young Asheville Position Prospects


The Tourists offense has been slumping pretty severely of late, part of it has to do with older players like Jimmy Cesario coming back to earth, but part has to do with younger prospects not living up to their potential yet. These are the lines of the position players 21 years old and younger, listed in reverse order of their ages:

David Christensen .245 .315 .500
Scott Robinson .323 .360 .378
Carlos Martinez .147 .192 .191
Delta Cleary .185 .220 .333
Tyler Massey .192 .234 .250


Three years from now, we as Rockies fans will be enjoying the expoits of a talented team in its peak as Dexter Fowler, Troy Tulowitzki, Ian Stewart, Carlos Gonzalez and others are leading us into the playoffs and giving us a competitive core to work around. We will be looking to this group for their replacements. Right now, I'm thinking our next window of success could be shortlived if there aren't significant steps forward taken by the next generation. Christensen seems to have taken one such step so far this season after .227/.288/.394 season last year, but he still has a ways to go as do the others. 

Let me just put some of these numbers in context. Anthony Gose, a raw young 18 year old center field prospect for the Phillies has a .261/.310/.387 line in the SAL right now. His teamate Zach Collier is hitting .262/.319/.393. Isaac Galloway, a raw young 19 year old outfield prospect for the Marlins is hitting .286/.325/.442. 19 year old Orioles prospect Xavier Avery is hitting .277/.305/.416. Despite the poor looking average, Cleary isn't too far away from this level of likely MLB level advancement and it's probably bad luck with a small sample BABIP (.200 thus far) that's driving his underperformance. He hit a homerun in yesterday's loss and could/should look fine in a couple of weeks.  

Christensen's power display and improved contact represents a huge step forward for him, of the SAL's players that are 21 and younger, he ranks second in isolated slugging. I think given his history this is as about all we could have hoped for from this season and I hope he sustains it or continues to move forward for the rest of the year.

Robinson is trickier to figure out. He's sustaining a high BABIP despite a low line drive rate and not walking much or hitting for much power. His excellent speed helps the BABIP (four bunt hits so far and a 62% GB rate), but if his game is going to be a slap and dash one from the plate, he really needs to cut down on the 21% K rate. It's either that or start hitting more gaps because faster fielders with stronger arms will cut down on his ability to get on via grounder.

After somewhat promising starts for the Tourists, Martinez and Massey have simply been overmatched at the plate so far. Martinez was reportedly offered a seven figure signing bonus from the Yankees before deciding to sign with Colorado as a 16 year old for $650,000 in 2005, but it's looking like a sunk cost at this point. I really don't expect him to be salvageable. Massey, on the other hand, deserves more patience for the time being.