Former Tri-City Dust Devils litter the Colorado Rockies’ farm system, with the majority of former players playing for the two teams in the levels immediately above the Dust Devils, the single-A affiliate Asheville Tourists and advanced-A affiliate Modesto Nuts. Players promoted from Tri-City are most often sent to one of these two teams. Here’s an update on how former Dust Devils are currently doing on those two teams:
Starting pitchers Ben Alsup and Chris Jensen lead the rotation for the Tourists, who took home the South Atlantic League Southern Division first-half title, going 47-23. Overall on the year Asheville is currently 58-32 and the two former Dust Devils right handers are a big reason why. Both Alsup and Jensen have recorded nine wins this season, one shy of the South Atlantic League high of 10.
Alsup, a Dust Devil in 2011 after being drafted by the Rockies in the 18th round of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft, is 9-4 in 16 starts with a 4.56 earned run average for the Tourists. Awarded the SAL Pitcher of the Week honors on July 2nd, Alsup has thrown 104 2/3 innings this season, allowing 53 earned runs on 118 hits while striking out 60 and walking 29. Jensen, also a Dust Devil in 2011, was drafted by the Rockies in the 6th round of the 2011 draft and spent his entire first professional season in Tri-City, going 2-1 with a 2.65 earned run average in eight starts. Since joining the Tourists this season Jensen has continued his success, going 9-3 with a 4.73 earned run average in 17 starts.
A few former Tri-City relievers are also doing well on the Asheville staff. Lefty Ken Roberts, who was named a Northwest League Post-Season All-Star as a Dust Devil in 2011, is 3-1 with a 1.97 earned run average in 34 appearances this season. The third-year pro has allowed 10 runs in 45 2/3 innings while recording 33 strikeouts and six walks. Right-hander Nelson Gonzalez has continued pitching well for the Tourists this season after a stellar season for the Dust Devils last year. In 2011 for Tri-City Gonzalez was 7-0 with a 1.71 earned run average in 20 appearances. This season he’s 3-1 in 34 appearances for Asheville.
A trio of Dust Devils alumni make up the Tourists’ 2012 outfield as Tyler Massey, Brian Humphries, and Jared Simon split time, all of whom played together for the 2011 Dust Devils.
Massey, a SAL Mid-Season All-Star for Asheville this year, is playing very well, batting .326 with seven home runs and a .405 on-base percentage in 65 games. Humphries, who batted leadoff for Tri-City and has secured the same position in the Asheville lineup, is doing well in that spot, batting .297 and ranking 10th in the SAL in runs scored (57). A Dust Devil in 2010 and 2011 after being drafted in the sixth round of the 2010 MLB draft out of Tampa University, Simon is batting .246 with nine home runs and 40 runs batted in. This group has now won three consecutive “half” division titles, after winning both halves for the Dust Devils last season and the first half for the Tourists this year.
First baseman Jordan Ribera, who began the season with Asheville and was then assigned to the Dust Devils for a short time before once again being promoted to the Tourists, is now getting more consistent playing time with the club. After batting .324 with six runs batted in in nine games for Tri-City in 2012, Ribera returned to Asheville. In 22 total games for the Tourists this year Ribera is batting .227 with one home run and 14 runs batted in.
Finishing in third place in the California League North Division first-half title race, the Nuts have improved their play in the second half, going 13-7 thus far, just one-half game out of first place. A large part of their success overall this season has been the pitching of former Dust Devil Christian Bergman.
Named a 2011 Northwest League Post-Season All-Star as a Dust Devil as well as a 2012 California League Mid-Season All-Star as a Nut, Bergman has flourished his last two seasons. The leader of the 2011 Tri-City pitching staff, the righty was 7-5 with a 2.59 earned run average in 15 starts, two of which being complete-game shutouts, for the Dust Devils.
In 2012 Bergman is leading the California League with 12 wins. Overall he is 12-5 with a 2.91 earned run average over a league-leading 111 1/3 innings pitched in 18 starts. The outstanding numbers don’t stop there, as the 24th round draft pick of the Rockies from the 2010 draft has also recorded 84 strikeouts and walked just 24 and has the fourth lowest WHIP (Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched) in the league at 1.15.
In the bullpen for the Nuts a couple of former Dust Devils left-handers have pitched well. A 2010 Dust Devil, Kraig Sitton has made 34 appearances for the Nuts in 2012, going 1-1 with a 1.80 earned run average. In 40 innings pitched Sitton has allowed eight earned runs. Roberto Padilla, who began 2012 with Tri-City after starting his professional career with the Dust Devils in 2011, was promoted to Modesto on June 25th. In his short time in Modesto this season, Padilla is 2-0 in five appearances with a 4.22 earned run average over 10 2/3 innings on the mound.
Catchers Dustin Garneau and Bryce Massanari, both members of the 2010 Dust Devils, are splitting time behind the plate for the Nuts this season. In 57 games Garneau is batting .264 with five home runs and 21 runs batted in. Massanari, in 26 games, is batting .232, but is currently on the disabled list.
Modesto infielders Tim Smalling and Jayson Langfels, who each played for Tri-City in 2011, are both seeing time in the field. In 48 games Langfels is batting .282 with one home run and 25 runs batted in while Smalling, in 44 games, is batting .257 with one home run and 23 runs batted in. These two are joined by outfielder Juan Crousset, who has continued his progression through the Rockies’ farm system and is playing well for the Nuts. In 40 games the lefty is batting .295 with six home runs and 26 runs batted in.
You can watch potential future Tourists and Nuts at Gesa Stadium on July 19th as the Dust Devils return to the Tri-Cities for an eight game home stand. The Dust Devils open with a five game series against the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, which is followed by a three game set with the Spokane Indians. Tickets are on sale now and you can get yours by visiting the Dust Devils’ front office Monday through Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., calling the front office at (509) 544-8789, or online at www.dustdevilsbaseball.com.