Colorado Springs: L 11-16
The Sky Sox first three hitters, Eric Young, Charlie Blackmon and Chris Nelson each got aboard at least three times and combined for five stolen bases and six runs scored. That's usually a good sign a team's on it's way to victory, but the ball's been carrying of late in the Springs and elsewhere in the Pacific Coast League, in Saturday's contest the production turned out to be just a day to pad the season stats. The offensive players are doing exactly what we'd want, but it's very difficult to gauge how ready they are for MLB play, as it seems the gap between the quality of the NL and PCL pitching has widened considerably over the last two years. 10.86 runs/game are getting scored in the PCL in 2011, compared to 8.36 in the NL, a difference of 2.5 runs a game. In 2009, the PCL averaged 9.76 runs, and the NL averaged 8.86, or less than one run a game difference. For yesterday's contest, the Sky Sox scored all 11 of their runs off of one of Kansas City's plethora of stud prospects, Mike Montgomery, so that's a good sign, but I still don't know how much I trust the results in a season like this.
Tulsa: L 3-4
Aaron Cook pitched a four inning rehab assignment for Tulsa and gave up four runs on six hits with two walks and just one strikeout. It might take a couple of starts before we get a really good read on where Cook's at, so don't put too much stock into this result. The good news was that what outs Cook did record, he recorded on the ground, save for that one K. Joey Williamson pitched four scoreless innings in relief of Cook, allowing just a single and a walk and striking out six. This is the third time he's faced this same Arkansas team this season, sandwiching a six run (two earned) 2.2 IP outing at home between two scoreless four inning appearances on the road.
Tim Wheeler hit his 11th HR of the season and had two hits overall in the loss. Given how often he strikes out, Wheeler's been pushing the upper limit of what we'd consider plausible from a hitter at his age and level. To get any better, he'd have to make more contact, and who knows how that would affect other parts of his game. Since the K rate isn't at a particularly alarming level, it's probably safe to put him on a promotion watch to AAA at some point in the next few weeks. Should Eric Young Jr. or Charlie Blackmon get promoted to the majors, it would create the necessary OF void in Colorado Springs for Wheeler to fill.
Modesto: W 11-2
Chad Bettis continues to pitch very well. Delta Cleary had four hits. Mike Zuanich hit his ninth home run of the season and Kent Matthes also contributed three hits. I'm going to skip going in depth on all of these guys and go somewhere else, though.
I don't know if we talk enough about 2010 second round pick Josh Rutledge because he's an infielder without power, and he had a rough start in Tri-City last season, but he's turned up his performance in May even with the aggressive promotion to Modesto to start the year, and seems he may be getting the knack of professional baseball, turning into a decent contact/on base threat. If he can keep his K rate and BB rate equal around this 15% level and continue to provide that plus glove up the middle, he could be looked at as another Jonathan Herrera type. I had him in my off season PuRPs list, and it's going to be hard for me to leave him off this one, as he's responding pretty well to the challenge of High A less than a year after being drafted.
Asheville: L 4-5
Four Tourists hit four solo home runs off Lexington starter Carlos Quevedo, but Asheville also whiffed 13 times against him in six innings without a walk as he put up an Edwar Cabrera-esque line against the Tourists. Helder Velazquez, Chandler Laurent, Corey Dickerson and Bryce Massanari were the four to homer, while Velazquez, Kyle Parker, Russell Wilson and Cristhian Adames were the four Tourists who had three K's.
Erik Stavert started for the Tourists and had a decent outing, allowing four runs, two earned and struck out six in seven innings. Bruce Kern has had a solid year so far, but allowed a run in two innings to take the loss.