Shortstop prospect jinx?

April 6, 2009 | 11:14 pm  

For the second successive year, a shortstop prospect has suffered a debilitating injury. Hector Velazquez will miss the entire season with a broken left femur. The 20-year-old Puerto Rican, who played at low Class A Asheville last year, suffered the injury a few days before he was to leave for spring training when the car he was in was broadsided.

Last year, Hector Gomez suffered a stress fracture a ball he fouled off hit him in his shin on opening night with high Class A Modesto. As he was recovering, Gomez injured his right elbow while throwing and in June underwent Tommy John surgery. Gomez, who will return to Modesto this year, is close to being ready and is expected to be activated in no more than two weeks.

Also expected back in about a week at Asheville are CF Delta Cleary (groin) and 1B Kiel Roling (hamstring), both jumping from Rookie Casper.

At Triple-A Colorado Springs, the rotation will include Greg Reynolds, Jason Hirsh, Josh Fogg, Brandon Hynick and Alan Johnson if left-hander Greg Smith begins the season on the disabled list. Smith came down with shoulder soreness late in big league camp.

Steven Register, who went 16-for-19 in save opportunities last year for the Sky Sox, will be their closer. Other members of the bullpen include Franklin Nunez, left-handers Damian Moss and Randy Flores, Ryan Mattheus and Matt Daley.

The infield will include 1B Dan Ortmeier, 2B Eric Young Jr., SS Jonathan Herrera and 3B Christian Colonel, who can also play 1B and the corner OF positions. Kenny Perez and Mike McCoy provide infield depth. Carlos Gonzalez will play CF, flanked by RF Matt Murton and LF Matt Miller with Chris Frey, who can play CF, the fourth OF. Sal Fasano, Edwin Bellorin and Paul Phillips will do the catching.

Tulsa will field a far more interesting team when it comes to prospects, particularly starting pitchers. The Drillers’ rotation includes Jhoulys Chacin, Chaz Roe, Samuel Deduno, Esmil Rogers and Keith Weiser.

Andrew Johnston will close, at least at the outset of the season, while Shane Lindsay adapts to relieving. Other members of the bullpen include Will Harris, who has a big-league curveball, left-handers Adam Bright and Tommy Baumgardner, long reliever Andy Graham and Jon George. Relievers Ching-Lung Lo (elbow) and Xavier Cedeno (shoulder) aren’t ready to start the season.

Chris Nelson, who is returning to Tulsa after a poor 2008 season there, will begin the year at SS but will play a considerable amount of time at 2B, which is where his future rests with the Rockies because of the presence of SS Troy Tulowitzki. Daniel Mayora will play 2B for the Drillers with the corners manned by 3B Darin Holcomb, making the jump from Asheville, and Michael Paulk and Jeff Kindel at 1B.

Mike McKenry will be the regular C, backed up by Dayton Buller. The outfield will include Cole Garner in LF, Anthony Jackson in CF and Daniel Carte in RF. The fourth OF is Ryan Harvey, 24, the sixth player taken overall in the 2003 draft who was just signed after being released last week by the Cubs.

Catching up on a couple of items…Houston Jimenez, who had been the hitting coach at Asheville left the organization to go back to Mexico and manage. The Rockies thought a lot of Jimenez, but his financial opportunites were far greater in Mexico.

Kevin Riggs replaces Jimenez at Asheville. Riggs was going to be the Casper hitting coach for a second season. At Casper, Jonathan Stone will replace Riggs as the hitting coach. Stone, 30, played in the Padres’ organization and played for Modesto manager Jerry Weinstein at Sacramento City College. Stone was assisting Weinstein at Modesto, where his duties included video work and charting pitches and organizing the information.

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