In their final season as a Rockies affiliate, the Tulsa Drillers played host to some of the organization's most well-thought of young arms. First-round picks Jon Gray, Eddie Butler and Tyler Anderson were joined in the Tulsa rotation by righty Daniel Winkler, and all four were among the top 13 on the most recent PuRPs list. The four pitchers combined to start 77 of the team's 139 games, pitching 420 2/3 innings with a 2.87 ERA and 1.11 WHIP.
Winkler, ranked No. 13 on the latest PuRPs list, made just 12 starts this season before undergoing Tommy John surgery, but what a 12 starts they were. He allowed just 33 hits in 70 innings pitched with a 1.41 ERA and 0.71 WHIP. He walked just 17 and struck out 71. Not bad for a 24th round pick out of Central Florida in 2011.
Winkler's abbreviated 2014 served as a nice follow-up to a strong 2013 that saw him post a 2.98 ERA splitting time between Tulsa and Modesto. He should be back midway through the 2015 season, probably in AA again, this time in New Britain.
The No. 11 PuRP probably had the best season of any Tulsa pitcher. Anderson had a 1.98 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 118 1/3 innings over 23 starts for the Drillers in 2014. The southpaw allowed just 91 hits in those 118 1/3 innings, walking 40 and striking out 106.
Anderson's successful 2014 was a big sign of progress for the former Oregon Duck and 2011 first-round pick who was limited to just 16 starts over two levels in 2013. Look for Anderson to start 2015 either at AA New Britain or, more likely, in AAA in Albuquerque.
Butler, the No. 3 PuRP, had two stints in Tulsa this season, with a Major League call up and a DL stint between them. Butler made 18 starts for the Drillers in 2014, compiling a 3.58 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 108 innings. He allowed 104 hits, walking 32 and striking out just 63.
Despite the ghastly 5.25 K/9 number he posted in Tulsa, the Rockies showed faith in Butler, giving him three starts with the big club in which he posted a 6.75 ERA in 16 innings. If he has a strong Spring Training, he could very well find himself in the Rockies' Opening Day starting rotation in 2015.
The top man on the PuRPs list and No. 3 overall pick in 2013 reportedly put in a lot of work on his secondary pitches in 2014, leading to an up-and-down season and a stat line that as just so-so for the season. Gray tossed 124 1/3 innings in 24 starts with a 3.91 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. He allowed 107 hits in his 120+ innings, walking 41 and striking out 113.
After a strong 37 inning cameo in 2013, Gray's 2014 season was more about developing and becoming a pitcher rather than a thrower. Look for him to start 2015 at AAA Albuquerque with an outside chance at making the Rockies starting rotation.
Lefty Carlos Hernandez, a 27-year-old, posted a 2.68 ERA in 124 1/3 innings, filling in the rotation after Winkler's injury. The Drillers also sported a strong bullpen with Cole White and Scott Oberg splitting the closer's duties and combining for 31 saves and a 2.84 ERA in 76 innings. Lefty Kenny Roberts grabbed nine wins as a reliever with a 2.30 ERA in 78 1/3 innings out of the 'pen. Richard Castillo was the fifth man in the Tulsa rotation, but disappointed with a 5.41 ERA in 136 1/3 innings.