Christian Bergman. Christian Friedrich. Yohan Flande. Tyler Matzek.
If those names sound familiar, it's because you saw them on your television, donning Colorado Rockies uniforms, and providing no less than Friedrich's 24.1 IP.
Those four players also finished as four of the top five in innings pitched for the (what would turn out to be) final season in Colorado Springs for the Rockies Triple-A affiliate.
Matzek finished fifth for the Triple-A squad and fourth for the MLB team in innings pitched. Flande ranked tenth for the big league club and Bergman came in 12th.
And those aren't the only guys who spent significant time pitching between the two teams. Chris Martin, Juan Nicasio, Chad Bettis, and Rob Scahill all logged at least 20 innings in Colorado Springs and at least 15 in Denver. And each of Jair Jurrjens, Wilton Lopez, and Pedro Hernandez played significant time in Triple-A while at least making appearances at the MLB level.
That was all a long-winded way of saying that any look into the pitching staff at Colorado Springs is likely to yield as much information about how crazy 2014 was injury-wise in Colorado than it is to be indicative of how good the pitching was at Sky Sox games or even what the Rockies have at (theoretically) their highest level of organizational depth.
As such, there is a wide array of potential among the players we are about to discuss. Hold onto your butts.
Tyler Matzek: 4.05 ERA, 8.24 K/9, 4.19 BB/9, 66.2 IP
Matzek is easily the most exciting name on this list. The young lefty ended up turning in a season worthy of some Rookie of the Year votes, but of course didn't get any because Coors Field only helps our hitters and is of no detriment to our pitchers. Duh.
His 4.05 ERA is worthy of encapsulation in song considering his age, the general health of his team, and his environment. Throw in a 3.78 FIP once he got to MLB (oddly enough maintaining exactly a 4.05 ERA) which suggests Matzek was a bit unlucky this season and his numbers could improve given natural development of a young player, and a return to health of a formidable defense that was lacking upon several of his starts in 2014.
I am unequivocally on Team Matzek. There are a lot of advanced stats to suggest he may, in fact, be the real deal, but for me it comes back to his attitude. He has always had the stuff, but his mental approach is what I see as an upward trend that looks to only grow stronger.
Christian Friedrich: 7.00 ERA, 8.18 K/9, 3.84 BB/9, 91.1 IP
The numbers on Friedrich show that it was a tough year for the former first-rounder, but he may have settled into the perfect role for him by the end of the season.
Pitching out of the bullpen for the first time at the major league level, Friedrich's K/9 jumped up to 9.99. And while that 7.00 ERA in Triple-A look awful, it is backed by a 5.54 FIP. Christian caught some bad breaks this year but the switch-over from starter to bullpen guy looks good in an incredibly small 24.1 inning sample size.
I expect to see him start the year in the pen next year and could easily see a decent season serving as the long man/LOOGY.
Yohan Flande: 5.60 ERA, 6.83 K/9, 3.36 BB/9, 88.1 IP
Flande came to exemplify the decimation felt by the Rockies starting rotation this season, but after a few rough starts, he actually didn't look too bad. I have no idea what to make of Flande's relatively serviceable outings by the end of the year other than to think he could end up as a valuable multi-inning reliever.
Christian Bergman: 4.19 ERA, 5.85 K/9, 1.75 BB/9, 92.1 IP
The Rockies should fins a place for Christian Bergman, Maybe he, too, will end up in the pen with the ability to make spot starts due to injury.
His lack of swing-and-miss stuff can be scary at times but Bergman, quite simply, does not walk guys and there is always value in that.
While his ERA at the big league level did jump up to 5.93, his FIP remained at a solid 4.74, roughly 14 points higher than in Triple-A. But the walk rate actually decreased upon promotion to 1.65 BB/9 and the .333 BABIP against suggests that he didn't have the best of luck either.
He misses just enough bats and tends not to implode. If nothing else, he is the kind of guy that can preserve bullpens in blowouts one way or the other, but I think he has a decent chance to be a surprise contributor next season.