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Sunday Pebble Report: Gray and Butler both start, prospect nerds rejoice

It was a great day for pitching prospects as Jonathan Gray, Eddie Butler and Tyler Anderson all had meaningful starts on Saturday. Raimel Tapia extended his hitting streak for Grand Junciton and Hamlet Marte is leading the DSL in home runs.

Jonathan Gray
Jonathan Gray

Triple-A Colorado Springs - L 4-6 (54-52)

Right fielder Kent Matthes had the biggest game for the Sky Sox, going 2-for-4 on X-Men night in Security Services field. Matthes scored a run in the seventh off an RBI pinch hit single by Xavier Nady. The Alabama native is hitting .378 since being promoted from Double-A Tulsa in June. Shortstop Josh Rutledge tripled for his only hit in the third to extend his hitting streak to seven games.

Corey Riordan earned the loss, giving up three earned runs and seven hits in 4.2 innings pitched. Corey's ERA stands at 7.24 on the season. Riordan had a scare in the third, when a comebacker glanced off his pitching hand. Corey finished the inning and was able to retire the side without allowing a run to score. Defensively Josh Rutledge received his first error of the Triple-A season on a throwing lapse in the fifth. Saturday's loss to the Giants affiliate was the Sky Sox sixth in a row.

Double-A Tulsa - W 6-5 (49-55)

The Drillers squeaked out a victory against the Angels affiliate on a night when both teams were issued warnings for hitting batters. An RBI single up the middle by shortstop Cristhian Adames in the sixth broke the 4-4 tie. Later in the seventh, Kyle Roling hit his 22nd home run of the season to add needed insurance and secure the victory.

Catcher Dustin Garneau was hit by reliever Matt Oye following Roling's home run and Joe Gardner drilled Kaleb Cowart in the following half inning to precipitate the warnings. Kyle Parker (#5 PuRP) was 2-for-5 on the night with an RBI and second baseman Angelys Nina hit his eighth home run of the season. Prior to the game, left-handed reliever Kenneth Roberts was promoted from Modesto to Tulsa after producing a 1.30 ERA and four saves at the High-A level.

High-A Modesto - L 4-9 (51-56)

Futures representative Eddie Butler (#3 PuRP) had another brilliant start, pitching five shutout innings and allowing just four hits, while striking out four Visalia batters. The outing lowered Butler's season ERA to 2.39 in Modesto. Short a left handed reliever, the bullpen struggled to hold the game scoreless as the Diamondbacks affiliate scored nine runs off Nuts relievers. Geoff Parker was the biggest culprit, allowing three earned to cross the plate without recording an out.

Designated hitter David Kandilas produced a solid game with a pair of hits. The Aussie has reached base safely in 18 of his past 20 games. Shortstop Trevor Story launched his ninth home run in the top of the ninth, a two run shot which made the final score look respectable. Left fielder Brian Humphries plated the other two runs with a two RBI double in the sixth. The Pepperdine alum raised his average to .319 on the season

Low-A Asheville

Game 1 W 5-2

The early game saw the Tourists jump out to an early lead based on the bat of designated hitter Rosell Herrera (#8 PuRP). The Dominican went 2-for-3 with three RBI on the strength of his 16th home run of the season. Catcher Tom Murphy (#11 PuRP) was Asheville's only batter to not record a hit.

Starter Matt Flemer had the hitters for the Braves affiliate guessing all game, as he struck out six in five innings. Flemer allowed just one earned run on four innings pitched, while walking two.

Game 2 L 0-5 (52-48)

Ryan Arrowood made his sixth start of the season, striking out seven in just four innings. The tall right hander earned the loss after allowing four earned runs on four hits and four walks. The North Carolina native saw his ERA rise to 3.57 after the performance.

The Tourists threatened in the first when Herrera singled and stole second in front of a walk by Francisco Sosa. Dillon Thomas then grounded out to end the threat. Both Max White and Rosell Herrera reached via a base hit and then followed with a stolen base, but neither could capitalize on being in scoring position.

Short-season Tri City - W 5-4 (21-22)

Lefty Tyler Anderson (#10 PuRP) made his second rehab start for the Dust Devils on Saturday against the Giants affiliate. The former Oregon Duck gave up just one earned run on four innings of work while striking out three, but allowed six hits and three stolen bases.

Second baseman Patrick Valaika got things started for the Dust Devils in the second inning when he doubled and then scored after a throwing error on a steal attempted of third base. The ninth round pick in this year's draft out of UCLA, Valaika was responsible for three of Tri-City's runs. Catcher Wilfredo Rodriguez had a pair of hits, including an RBI double in the sixth. Marcos Derkes became the hero in the ninth, when he singled home Michael Tauchman for the winning run.

Rookie Grand Junction - L 3-5 (21-14)

Starter Jonathan Gray (#1 PuRP) pitched another impressive game, going five innings and allowing just one earned run on five hits. The Oklahoma Sooner gave up one walk, but fanned six Chukars in the game. Gray threw 52 of his 73 pitches for strikes and created four groundball outs, to just two in the air.

Center fielder Raimel Tapia extended his hitting streak to 25 games on the season, with his 12th double of the year. Shortstop Emerson Jimenez went 2-for-3 with a RBI, raising his season average to .350. The Rockies clinched first place in the opening half of the season due to a loss by Orem on Saturday to the Ogden Raptors.

Our own Drew Creasman was at the game and provided this insight on Jonathan Gray's performance:

Jonathan Gray pitched well enough to get his first professional win, but alas, the game would prove again why the W is a silly stat. He was absolutely dominant in his 5 innings pitched, giving up only one run on a broken bat single and hitting 101 (announced) on the radar gun. He walked the first batter of the game but would induce strikeouts on both his fastball and changeup to get out of the inning. He continually had hitters well out on their front foot with his changeup, the pitch he has been working on the most since being drafted, and he told me after the game that the pitch was as good as it has felt yet. "Tonight, it felt really good," he said.

His changeup resulted in a number of ugly swings from the opposition, including strikeouts (one looking) and weak groundouts. He began the second inning with a three pitch strikeout that went change-change-high fastball and blew the hitter away. His only trouble came in the third inning when he gave up a couple of seeing eye singles followed by the aforementioned broken bat RBI single.

The whole inning could have been avoided had a few pitches been called the other way. I asked Jonathan if he though he was being squeezed by the home plate umpire (because I thought he was) an he rolled his eyes and tilted his head back. "I threw one right down the middle and it was called a ball." It seemed to me like he may have been fooling the umpire with his movement.

The only hard hit ball was a double in the gap that would ultimately do no damage. Otherwise there was a lot of weak contact and a lot of swings and misses. He told me after the game that he can feel his confidence and comfort level rising with each start even mentioning "those last two innings I felt really good. And I only threw my slider 3 or 4 times tonight." I asked if his changeup was diving in and down on the right handed hitters. He told me, "I don't always know exactly how it is going to move, but right now it's nasty."

DSL Rockies - L 3-7 (25-23)

Starter Hector Villarroel didn't give up many hits, but still allowed too many runs to score against the Angels affiliate. The left hander went four innings, giving up just two earned runs on three hits, he walked three and struck out two. Relievers Viloria and Valerio gave up three runs in four innings of relief.

Shortstop Jonathan Piron went 2-for-4 in the game with a RBI and a strikeout. Catcher Hamlet Marte went deep again to take sole possession of the home run lead over Yankees shortstop Jorge Mateo. Originally born in New Jersey, Mateo's six home runs this season is more than the combined Rockies DSL team hit in 2012.