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Thursday Pebble Report: Tourists and Kyle Parker Stage Hit Parade

Eye On:  OF Kyle Parker

Parker spent nearly a year away from live pitching, focusing instead on quarterbacking the ACC offense and building up his NFL resume.  Thanks to broken ribs and a poor season, he committed completely to baseball this spring.  All that time away figured to make the right fielder a rusty hitter early on; indeed, in his first game, he went 0-for-3 with 2 punchouts.  But since then, Parker has gone 7-for-15 with two doubles, three walks and three strikeouts.   Sure, it is only six games.  But none of them have come at the McCormick Field bandbox, and this is the stretch where he was supposed to struggle getting back into baseball.  If this is Parker shaking off the rust, we might just see an enormous batting line come out of Asheville later on.

AAA Colorado Springs, L 4-7 (2-5, 4th, 3.5 GB)

Alan Johnson (2005, undrafted) was held out of his scheduled start in case he was needed this weekend with the parent club due to Tuesday's postponement.  That made last night a bullpen start, kicked off by Andy Graham (2006, 21st round).  Graham held the Reno Aces to one run before departing after the third, and Geno Espinelli (2011, MiLB FA) befuddled the Diamondbacks' farm team by striking out the side in the fourth.  Bruce Billings (2007, 30th round) then allowed four runs to score in his inning, thanks in part to a two out error from Charlie Blackmon (2008, 2nd round).  Blackmon has failed to reach base in nine consecutive plate appearances since his April 10 home run.  Josh Fields (2011, trade) pushed his average to .389 with two hits.

AA Tulsa, Off Day (3-3, 2nd, 2 GB)

Yesterday was a travel day for the Drillers, and a day to shake off consecutive trouncings at the hands of the San Antonio Missions.  They open a 3-game series tonight at the Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros) at 6:05 MT.  PuRP #3 Christian Friedrich (2008, 1st round) will face former Rockie farmhand Jonnathan Aristil, who was one of the two pitchers Dan O'Dowd traded for Matt Lindstrom this offseason.

High A Modesto, L 3-7 - (4-3, t-2nd, 0.5 GB)

After 5.2 scoreless innings in his Modesto debut, the old familiar Nicholas Schnaitmann (2008, 22nd round) returned, striking out just one and allowing six runs in four innings. Chad Rose (2008, 16th round) and Michael Marbry (2007, undrafted) held the Bakersfield Blaze to just three hits over the last five innings to keep it close, but the Nuts offense couldn't mount enough of an attack against the Reds affiliate.  Mike Zuanich (2008, 28th round) hit his California League leading fourth home run of the season while #4 PuRP Nolan Arenado (2009, 2nd round) went hitless.  

The Nuts hit the road for the first time in 2011, this time to face the Stockton Ports (A's) at 8:05MDT.  It is #1 PuRP Tyler Matzek's (2009, 1st round) turn in the rotation, so both of the Rockies' top lefty starting pitching prospects should be in action tonight.


Low-A Asheville, W 13-2 - (4-3, 2nd, 1.5 GB)

Asheville dominated every facet of this game.  Opening Day starter Edwar Cabrera (2008, DR) dominated the West Virginia Power, striking out eight future Pirates and walking no one in six sterling inning.  Juan Perez (2010, 18th round) gave up a hit in the ninth, but that was it.   

Offensively, every Tourist smacked a hit, with Joey Wong (2009 24th round) and Avery Barnes (2009, 11th round) each hitting their first home runs of the season.  Dustin Garneau had three hits and four runs driven in, while #9 PuRP Kyle Parker (2010 1st round), Wong, Barnes, and Brett Tanos (2010, 10th rounder) each had two hit days.