May 2012

Rockies Readying for Upcoming MLB Draft

With less than a week remaining until the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft, teams are honing in on players to select and fill their farm system.  Several of the picks in each year’s draft are placed on the Tri-City Dust Devils’ roster as well as other teams throughout the Rockies’ system.

In our first blog looking at this year’s draft many of the mock drafts on the internet had the Rockies taking middle infielders. Owner of the 10th selection in the first round, it looks like Colorado will take the best player available, rather than draft for need. At 19-29 so far this season, the Rockies have hit the ball okay, with the seventh highest batting average in the National League. It is on the mound where the Rockies have struggled, garnering the highest earned run average in the NL. However, each of these numbers may be slightly inflated due to the team playing half of their games at hitter-friendly Coors Field.

Picking from the tricky position of 10th in the draft, it is somewhat surprising that throughout various mock drafts only rarely does any expert foresee the club taking a pitcher. But the Rockies haven’t had a pick this high in the draft since 2007, when they took right-handed pitcher Casey Weathers with the eighth overall pick. Weathers spent time with the Dust Devils 2010. Colorado has also selected a pitcher with five of their last seven first round picks dating back to 2006, so they could be happy with their minor league haul of pitching for now and be looking for bats to help round out their lineup.

Representing the Rockies at the upcoming draft will be former third baseman and utility man Garrett Atkins. Atkins played seven seasons with the Rockies, hitting 98 homers. Although he’s only 32 years old, Atkins has not played in MLB since 2010. The draft starts with the first round taking place on Monday June 4th at 4 p.m. PT in Secaucus, N.J. That’s followed by rounds 2-15 on Tuesday June 5th beginning at 9 a.m. and rounds 16-40 on Wednesday June 6th at 9 a.m.

Here’s the latest group of guys to be linked with the 10th selection in the upcoming draft:

–           Courtney Hawkinks – OF HS(TX)

Hawkins is a 6-foot-2, 210-pound right-handed outfielder from Corpus Christi, Texas where he was named on the All-Region First-Team this season. According to Keith Law “Assuming [Albert] Almora and [Carlos] Correa are gone (which is likely), the Rockies are on Hawkins, David Dahl and Gavin Cecchini. Hawkins has one of the quickest bats in the draft and plenty of power.”

We also mentioned Dahl in our first blog of the season as Colorado looks to fill an outfield that, since the departure of Matt Holiday and apart from Carlos Gonzalez, hasn’t found a youthful bat to add depth to the lineup or defense.

The scouting report on Hawkins from “Baseball Prospect Nation” reads as follows:

“One of the more improved high school players in this year’s draft class. He has improved steadily over the last two years. Through 29 games this spring, Hawkins was hitting .452 with ten home runs and 16 stolen bases. He is also an accomplished pitcher, posting a 0.83 ERA in eight games with 44 strikeouts in just 25.1 innings. Hawkins is committed to the University of Texas. Extremely raw all around. Has plenty of power projection but has to hit for it to matter. Quieter pre-pitch mechanics will help hitting ability and could help make him more of a .250-.260 hitter long term. Unlikely to ever work counts consistently. Aggressive mentality and preference for big power will always hamper his raw hitting. Power could make up lack of secondary offensive skills if he can make enough contact. Power needs to play to profile in RF. Unlikely to have defensive ability for CF, putting more pressure on the bat.”

–          Stephen Piscotty – 3B Stanford

At 6-foot-3 and 215-pounds, Piscotty represents the potential infield partner Rockies’ fans have been waiting for. However, drafting a corner-infielder in the first round may be unlikely, with third baseman Nolan Arenado being groomed for the spot next to Troy Tulowitzki currently. Arenado was drafted in the second round of the 2009 draft by the Rockies and is currently ranked as the Rockies’ number one prospect while playing for the double-A Tulsa Drillers.

This season for the Stanford Cardinal Piscotty is batting .319 with five home runs and a team-high 54 runs batted in. According to Jonathan Mayo  of MLB.com: “The Rockies are likely still looking at a number of options, from high school hitters like Hawkins, Dahl and Gavin Cecchini to college arms like Michael Wacha. They also could go the college-bat route, deciding between the power of Clemson’s Richie Shaffer or the pure hit-abilitiy of Piscotty.”

After the draft the Dust Devils’ roster will begin to take shape, with team workouts beginning on Friday June 8th.

The Dust Devils open the 2012 season on Friday June 15th at 7:15 p.m. against the Everett AquaSox at Gesa Stadium. Opening night festivities include postgame fireworks presented by Connell Oil, 2012 magnet schedule giveaway presented by Pizza Hut and $1 Family Feast Night courtesy of Lamb Weston. Family Feast Night happens every Friday and has great concession deals with 12-ounce Coke products, french fries, ice cream sandwiches and hot dogs on sale for just one dollar.

Individual game tickets for Opening Night and the rest of the season are on sale Friday June 1st and can be ordered by phone, online at http://www.dustdevilsbaseball.com, at the stadium box office, or at all TicketsWest locations.

Ticket packages are on sale now and start at just $49, with full-season tickets available for as low as $259. Special ticket rates are available for groups of 20 or more. Season tickets, mini-plans, and group tickets can be purchased by contacting the Dust Devils front office at (509) 544-8789 or at the Gesa Stadium box office.

Dust Devil Alumni Working Way Through Rockies’ Farm System

Dust Devil Alumni Update

Although the Tri-City Dust Devils have a respectable number of current players on the Colorado Rockies’ roster, the team has its fair share of prospects continuing to climb through the organization’s farm system as well. Among the “Top 20 Prospects”, formed by Major League Baseball for each team’s website, seven on the Rockies’ list are former Dust Devils.

Edwar Cabrera- LHP – #19 Prospect:

Cabrera spent all of 2010 with the Dust Devils and has continued a steady progression to the double-A Tulsa Drillers, where he started this season and has done well enough to be named to the Rockies’ 40-man roster. In 2011 Cabrera led the Minor Leagues in strikeouts, 217, across two levels of single-A baseball, splitting time in Asheville and Modesto. So far in 2012, Cabrera is 4-3 in eight starts with a 3.20 earned run average.

Hector Gomez – IF – #17

Spending two stints in Tri-City, four years apart, talented infielder Hector Gomez has shown all the right stuff to make it to the top, apart from being able to stay on the field. Troubled with injuries, Gomez has long been projected to become an everyday infielder for the Rockies. He made his MLB debut at the end of last season, playing two games, showing enough to be named to the Rockies’ 40-man roster coming into the season. But injuries once again are taking their toll as Gomez has spent the entirety of 2012 on the sidelines.

Josh Rutledge- IF – #16

After beginning his career with the Dust Devils in 2010 and struggling, tallying only 5 hits in 11 games, Rutledge has turned on the offense and burst onto the Rockies’ infield radar. Looking for infielders to pair on each side of franchise shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, Rutledge, although still a couple years away, has as good a shot as any to stake his claim. This season he’s batting .288 with a .310 on-base percentage in double-A Tulsa through 38 games.

Christian Friedrich – LHP – #14

Making his MLB debut last week and following that up with another great performance may help Friedrich stick into a rotation that has struggled this season, where he found himself after injuries forced him into a spot start.

Charlie Blackmon – OF – #13

After making his MLB debut last summer and impressing in his time in the outfield for the Rockies, Blackmon broke his foot, ending his season early. Playing for the Dust Devils in his rookie season in 2008, Blackmon broke into the Dust Devil record books, setting the single-season hits record with 98, and was on the fast-track through the minors. Currently battling a toe-injury that has had him on and off the disabled list this season, Blackmon is getting back to full health in triple-A Colorado Springs. So far this season the Georgia Tech alum is batting .203 in 17 games.

Tim Wheeler – OF – #7

Drafted in the first round of 2009 and helping the Dust Devils earn their second division title in team history in that same year, Wheeler, like Blackmon, is a player that will likely get a good look by the Rockies when he gets his shot at the major league level.  Wheeler emerged last season, blasting a Rockies’ double-A and Tulsa Drillers’ record 33 home runs while also stealing 21 bases. Yet the injury bug bit Wheeler as well this season, as he broke his hamate bone in his right hand in April. In his shortened 2012 season, Wheeler is batting .200 in just eight games.

Chad Bettis – RHP – #4

Taken in the second round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft in 2010, Bettis began his professional career strong and hasn’t stopped improving. Going 4-1 in nine starts with a 1.12 earned run average in his time with the Dust Devils, Bettis was quickly promoted and is currently on the double-A Tulsa Drillers roster. However, he began the year on the disabled list with a triceps issue that has sidelined him all season. The Rockies will hope to sort his injuries out quickly to help their struggling pitching staff. In high-A Modesto last season Bettis was 12-5 in 27 starts and through his solid minor league career has been listed as the 61st best prospect in all of Minor League Baseball.

Friedrich on Fire

Although listed as the #14 prospect for the Rockies, Christian Friedrich is putting his name at the top of every Rockies fan’s list after his first two starts. In those two starts, spanning six and seven innings respectively, the 2008 draft pick has struck out 17, walked two and earned a 1-0 record thanks to a sterling 1.38 earned run average. A large part of Friedrich’s success has been because he’s throwing strikes, a lot of them. This piece in the Denver Post yesterday shows just how accurate the rookie has been. Here’s an excerpt from the piece:

“Christian Friedrich’s precision is the most accurate way to explain his success. The left-hander has pitched the best back-to-back games of any Rockies starter this season, his emergence as startling as his statistics. Friedrich has thrown 197 pitches, 130 of them strikes.

“He’s made quite a statement for himself,” manager Jim Tracy said.

The numbers become even more impressive when broken down. Fastball: 127 pitches, 86 strikes; curveball: 30, 17; slider: 22, 15; changeup: 18, 12. “

He’s scheduled to make his home debut for Colorado, at well-known hitter’s park Coors Field, on Saturday against the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners have the 27th ranked batting average in the MLB, but he’ll be facing off against Jason Vargas, the #2 pitcher on the Mariners’ staff.

Opening Night- Coming Soon!

There is now less than a month until the Dust Devils’ 2012 season begins on June 15th against the Everett AquaSox! Ticket packages are on sale now and start at just $49, with full-season tickets available for as low as $259. Special ticket rates are available for groups of 20 or more. Season tickets, mini-plans, and group tickets can be purchased by contacting the Dust Devils front office at (509) 544-8789 or at the Gesa Stadium box office.

Former Dust Devils Making an Impact With Current Rockies

With almost a quarter of the 2012 MLB season finished, rosters are taking shape and teams are looking to make adjustments for the rest of the year. The Colorado Rockies’ current 40-man roster includes eight former Dust Devils, five of which are active on the 25-man roster.

Relief pitchers Rex Brothers and Matt Reynolds have become staples of the Rockies’ bullpen, ranking first and third in appearances through the first 33 games of the season. Brothers, who spent time in Tri-City in 2009, is 1-1 in 18 appearances and 12 2/3 innings pitched on the year, with a 3.55 earned run average. Reynolds, who was a part of the 2007 Dust Devils East Division title winning team, is 3-0 this season in 15 appearances. The left-hander has a 4.15 earned run average in 13 innings pitched on the year.

In the rotation former Dust Devil starters Juan Nicasio and Christian Friedrich are each trying to establish themselves as fixtures in a pitching staff that has the second highest earned run average in Major League Baseball, 5.10, only ahead of the early-season candidate for worst team of the year in the Minnesota Twins.

Nicasio spent the 2008 season with the Dust Devils and made the jump to the MLB in 2011, before a line drive hit him and broke his neck, ending his season prematurely. He has rebounded as well as anyone could hope in 2012, going 2-1 in his first seven starts of the year after beginning the campaign in the Rockies’ rotation. In those starts the Dominican Republic native has thrown 40 2/3 total innings and tallied an earned run average of 4.65.

Friedrich, a first-round selection in the 2008 MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Rockies, spent time with the Dust Devils in that same year and has worked his way up the team’s farm system and has made the most of his opportunities. Last week the lefty made his MLB debut, after injuries and a disappointing start to the season opened up a slot in the Rockies’ starting rotation. In his debut, on the road against the San Diego Padres, Friedrich looked the part of a first-round draft pick, earning the win while striking out seven, walking one and allowing one earned run over six innings. The start was good enough for the Eastern Kentucky alum to earn a second start, which is tonight on the road against the San Francisco Giants.

Offensively there’s only one current active player on the Rockies’ roster who played for the Dust Devils, catcher turned infielder Jordan Pacheco. Pacheco spent portions of the 2007 and 2008 seasons in Tri-City, playing a combination of infield positions as well as catcher. This season Pacheco has played 11 games with the Rockies, batting .200 (5-for-25) with a triple and two walks. He’s played primarily due to the absence of Eric Young Jr., who has left the team to be with his grandfather who suffered a stroke earlier this month. Pacheco earned the call-up in large part due to his bat, batting .433 in 17 games thus far this season in Triple-A Colorado Springs.

Former Dust Devils on the Rockies’ 40-man roster, who are inactive for various reasons, include left-handed pitcher Edwar Cabrera, outfielder Charlie Blackmon and infielder Hector Gomez. None of the trio has made an appearance for the Rockies this season, with Charlie Blackmon as the only one with significant previous time playing for the Major League club. Last season Blackmon played 27 games for the Rockies after being called up mid-season, batting .255 in 102 plate appearances. Gomez is currently on the 15-day disabled list while Cabrera is doing well in double-A with the Tulsa Drillers, where he is 4-2 in seven starts with a 3.09 earned run average.

Don’t miss your chance to watch future Major Leaguers as the Dust Devils’ 2012 season begins on June 15th against the Everett AquaSox. Ticket packages are on sale now and start at just $49, with full-season tickets available for as low as $259. Special ticket rates are available for groups of 20 or more. Season tickets, mini-plans, and group tickets can be purchased by contacting the Dust Devils front office at (509) 544-8789 or at the Gesa Stadium box office.

 

Cougar Diamond Classic Kicks Off Summer Baseball in the Tri-Cities

The second annual Cougar Diamond classic at Gesa Stadium gave the 2,500+ fans in attendance an early glimpse of summer baseball in the Tri-Cities. A beautiful day with the sun beaming throughout set up a great day for baseball as the Washington State Cougars defeated the Portland Pilots 4-2. Not quite the sellout of the previous year, the 2012 Cougar Diamond Classic crowd still had an impressive showing, making Cougars’ baseball head Coach Donnie Marbut take note.

“The best thing about tonight was being in the Tri-Cities,” said Marbut in a story in the Tri-City Herald. “I just love the Tri-Cities Cougars, and we won that game tonight because of this crowd. We wish we could have this crowd in Pullman.”

Although none of the three Tri-City natives, pitching brothers Bryce and Ty Jackson of Kennewick, or outfielder Brett Jacobs of Richland, played in the game, the obvious Tri-City support of the Cougars was shown throughout Gesa Stadium, with crimson and gray taking over the stands.

The win gives the Cougs a 1-1 record in the Cougar Diamond Classic, following their 4-2 loss to the University of Washington last year.

Following the Cougar Diamond Classic, Tri-City baseball fans can look forward to the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft. The draft will provide a preview of potential Dust Devil players for the upcoming season, with much of the roster supplemented by rookies each season. This year the draft takes place from June 4th through the 6th, with the Colorado Rockies, the Dust Devils’ Major League affiliate, owning the 10th pick in the first round and the 46th pick in the “sandwich round” between the first and second round of the draft.

With around a month until the draft, various publications are coming out with their mock drafts of who they think teams will pick in the first round. Past Rockies’ first round picks that have spent time with the Dust Devils in recent years include pitchers Casey Weathers (2007), Christian Friedrich (2008), Rex Brothers (2009) and outfielder Tim Wheeler (2009).

 In these mock drafts there are a few names most often associated with the Rockies’ picks for the upcoming season.

 Deven Marrero – SS – Arizona State

Marrero is a six-foot-one-inch 194-pound junior infielder who most mock drafts have going in the top 10 of the draft. Named 2011 Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, Marrero was drafted previously in 2009 in the 17th round (509th Overall) by the Cincinnati Reds, before choosing to attend Arizona State rather than go pro. Coming into his junior year with the Sun Devils, Marrero had a .349 batting average in 96 appearances (91 starts) with a .390 on-base percentage and 64 runs scored and 62 runs batted in. His numbers have dropped off this year, as he’s batting .276 in his 44 appearances, all starts, with an on-base percentage of .335. He’s also tallied 30 runs scored and 26 runs batted in while helping lead ASU to a 29-17 record thus far.

 Addison Russell – SS – HS (Fla.)   David Dahl – OF – HS (Ala.)

 The other prospects mentioned in some mock drafts are a couple of Auburn University commits, infielder Addison Russell and outfielder David Dahl. Russell, a six-foot-one-inch right-handed shortstop from Florida, was named a 2012 Rawlings 1st-Team All-American and was ranked by ESPN as the third best high school middle infielder this year. An excerpt from the rankings described Russell this way: “Russell looks more like a third baseman than a shortstop, and his power follows suit. But he moves his feet well and has terrific hands, so there’s a chance for him to stick at short in pro ball as long as he remains in top condition. Auburn will miss out on a premium recruit if Russell signs a pro deal this summer.”

 Meanwhile, Dahl is a six-foot-two-inch outfielder from Birmingham, Alabama. He too was named a 2012 Rawlings 1st-Team All-American while being named the second best high school outfield prospect in the country by ESPN. His skillset was described by ESPN in this way: “Dahl is a multi-talented athlete, but his best asset may be his eye for the strike zone. He can throw and run, projects to hit for average and power and should get on base with regularity. He’s likely to end up in right field but could play some center early in his career. Dahl is an Auburn commit, but is a good bet for the first round and is a possible top-10 pick.”

The versatile infield prospects all seem to fit into the future Rockies’ plans, with Marco Scutaro, Chris Nelson and Jonathan Herrera as the preferred trio of players filling in at third and second base around franchise-shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. The thought of taking outfielder David Dahl makes sense as well, with a lack of outfield depth becoming an issue for the club.

The Dust Devils’ 2012 season begins on June 15th against the Everett AquaSox. Ticket packages are on sale now and start at just $49, with full-season tickets available for as low as $259. Special ticket rates are available for groups of 20 or more. Season tickets, mini-plans, and group tickets can be purchased by contacting the Dust Devils front office at (509) 544-8789 or at the Gesa Stadium box office.