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.

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