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Prospect Roundup: Comparison of Rockies minor league playoff clubs Asheville and Tulsa

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Two Rockies minor league clubs are closing in on a championship title. This week I compare the two teams and take a look at the future of their players.

Eddie Butler
Eddie Butler
Justin Edmonds

Although the big club may be out of the playoff picture, there are still two minor league teams in Colorado's system that are still alive and vying for a championship title. Low-A Asheville and Double-A Tulsa have rolled through the playoffs and are each within a game of winning the coveted crown.

Tulsa started the season locked and loaded with perhaps the best starting rotation in Rockies minor league history. Anchored by three first round picks and a CAL league pitcher of the year, the Drillers were tough to generate offense against, winning the first half title of the Texas league and ensuring a spot in the playoffs.

In contrast, Asheville became one of the most explosive offenses in the minors. The Tourists led the South Atlantic league with 5.59 runs scored per game, a full run higher than the league average. A second-half surge from the rotation guaranteed a playoff spot, but the Tourists were strong all year, finishing with the second best record in the minors at 89-49.

Rewind the clock two years, and it's east to see why Tulsa is vying for a Texas League title. The 2012 Asheville club won the SAL championship and finished the year with a record of 88-52. The stars of the club back then were: Tyler Anderson, Dan Winkler and Will Swanner. On Friday night, Will Swanner single-handedly lifted the Drillers to the final championship game, with five RBI's including the go-ahead home run in the 11th inning.

Let's take a look at a breakdown of players on the two clubs:

High draft picks, chosen in Round No. 3 or less

Tulsa

  • Tyler Anderson - Round No. 1, 20th overall, 2011
  • Eddie Butler - Round No. 1, 46th overall, 2012
  • Jon Gray - Round No. 1, 3rd overall, 2013
  • Tom Murphy - Round No. 3, 105 overall, 2012
  • Trevor Story - Round No. 1, 45th overall, 2011

Promotions and injuries cut down the effectiveness of this group overall. But for the most part, they had a strong start and came together for a playoff run at the end. Tyler Anderson really shined out of this group, taking a step forward and producing an ERA under two, while striking out nearly a batter per inning. Jon Gray was solid all year, focusing on a changeup, sacrificing short-term gains for sustained success.

Asheville

  • David Dahl - Round No. 1, 10th overall, 2012
  • Ryan McMahon - Round No. 2, 42nd overall, 2013
  • Max White - Round No. 2, 73rd overall, 2012
  • Alex Balog - Round No. 2, 70th overall, 2013
  • Kyle Freeland - Round No. 1, 8th overall, 2014

Anchored by Ryan McMahon, this group wasn't even the strength of the offense for the Tourists. McMahon struggled with contact, but producing impressive power for a 19-year-old with 18 homers and 46 doubles. Lauded for his defense and gap-hitting, David Dahl earned a mid-season promotion to Modesto, but returned to help Asheville in the playoffs. Newly drafted Kyle Freeland made just a handful of starts for the Tourists, frustrating hitters while allowing just a .173 average against and a 0.83 ERA.

International players

Tulsa

  • Cristhian Adames - Signed in 2007 for an undisclosed amount
  • Jayson Aquino - Signed in 2009 for an undisclosed amount

Asheville

  • Raimel Tapia - Signed in 2010 for $175,000
  • Jose Briceno - Signed in 2009 for an undisclosed amount
  • Emerson Jimenez - Signed in 2011 for $250,000
  • Johendi Jiminan - Signed in 2010 for $350,000
  • Antonio Senzatela - Signed in 2011 for $250,000

Tulsa's roster is a little light when it comes to International players. Indicating a shift in organizational philosophy, the Asheville club boasts more players with higher signing bonuses and higher ceilings. Jayson Aquino spent most of the year in Modesto, but earned a promotion after Tulsa's staff was handicapped with injuries to Jon Gray and Tyler Anderson. Aquino takes the mound tonight for the deciding game of the Texas league championship.

Raimel Tapia represents the cream of this group of players and could make a significant leap in the organization next season. The 20-year-old outfielder showed the ability to hit in all counts and was one of the SAL's leading hitters with a .326 average and 32 doubles. Antonio Senzatela dealt with finger injuries all season, but still managed a 3.11 ERA and a 15-2 record.

Both teams have players without high draft or sign pedigrees, but players who made an impact on their team's playoff runs nonetheless. Tulsa benefitted from Ryan Casteel, who stepped up after Tom Murphy went down with injury, to anchor the club with 16 homers and a .280 average. Dan Winkler was a stud for the Drillers, producing a 1.41 ERA while leading the club in strikeouts before falling to an injury that required Tommy John surgery.

Asheville saw Correlle Prime step up and notch 21 home runs, the 20-year-old first baseman was a terror for pitchers. Infielder Mike Benjamin fell a few plate appearances shy of qualifying for the batting title, otherwise he had one of the best batting averages in the SAL with a mark of .341.

Looking forward, it's exciting to consider how this season's Asheville club could be competing for a Texas league title within a couple of years. Both clubs represent the pride of an organization that languished through another subpar season. Fortunately, this Tulsa team will begin graduating players to Coors Field in the next two years, and the Asheville club won't be far behind.

Hottest prospects for Aug/Sep

Hitters

Name

Age

Tm

PA

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

K

SB

BA ▾

OBP

SLG

OPS

Luis Brito

18.4

DSL ROCK

49

6

18

2

1

0

4

5

6

3

0.419

0.469

0.512

0.981

Wilson Soriano

22.5

2 Tms

68

8

25

4

2

0

7

3

4

11

0.403

0.456

0.532

0.988

Correlle Prime

20.3

ASH

117

19

42

12

0

4

31

5

26

1

0.378

0.410

0.595

1.005

Shane Hoelscher

22.8

TRI

129

19

43

11

2

2

17

13

22

7

0.374

0.442

0.557

0.999

Angelys Nina

25.6

COL

122

16

41

5

0

3

12

8

12

2

0.360

0.402

0.482

0.884

Yonathan Daza

20.3

GJ

97

13

32

3

0

1

15

3

15

10

0.352

0.385

0.418

0.803

Juan Ciriaco

23.9

MOD

99

12

32

1

4

0

11

3

14

7

0.348

0.367

0.446

0.813

Brian Humphries

24.3

TUL

88

7

28

2

1

0

5

4

15

5

0.346

0.379

0.395

0.774

Sean Dwyer

22.5

TRI

120

18

35

11

0

4

19

17

23

4

0.340

0.433

0.563

0.996

Tyler Massey

24.9

TUL

109

13

35

8

2

2

14

5

18

6

0.340

0.370

0.515

0.885

Pitchers

Name

Age

Tm

W

L

Sv

BF

IP

G

H

R

ER

HR

BB

K

ERA ▴

Kyle Freeland

21.08

ASH

2

0

0

82

21.2

5

14

4

2

1

4

18

0.83

Luis Guzman

18.33

DSL ROCK

1

0

0

66

19.0

3

8

2

2

0

3

11

0.95

Lorenz Ozuna

19.75

DSL ROCK

1

1

0

67

16.2

3

13

4

2

1

8

12

1.08

Tyler Anderson

24.5

TUL

3

0

0

89

24.0

4

10

5

4

1

9

20

1.50

Blake Shouse

21.25

TRI

2

0

0

86

21.0

4

13

6

4

0

10

11

1.71

Carlos Hernandez

27.25

TUL

1

2

0

127

30.1

5

34

9

6

3

4

23

1.78

Helmis Rodriguez

20

TRI

1

1

0

126

30.0

5

26

8

6

0

6

8

1.80

Antonio Senzatela

19.42

ASH

3

1

0

140

34.1

6

31

8

7

1

8

22

1.83

Hottest videos of the week

Will Swanner's 11th inning home run.

Swanner's opposite field double to for his two of his five RBI's on the night.

Tyler Anderson pitches before getting lifted in the fourth. Includes nice defensive plays by Casteel, Featherston and a RBI by Chris O'Dowd.

Eddie Butler's defense couldn't reinforce him, and eventually former Rockie prospect Kent Matthes takes Ryan Arrowood deep for a three-run home run.

Breakdown of the Tourists loss on September 9, includes a double by Raimel Tapia and a slick double play from Emerson Jimenez.