Double-A Tulsa brimming with Rockies prospects

March 29, 2011 | 9:37 pm | 7  

Double-A Tulsa announced a roster of 25 players for its exhibition game Wednesday at 5:05 p.m. MDT against the Colorado Rockies at ONEOK Field. While this is not the official Opening Day roster for the Drillers, who begin play April 7 against Corpus Christi, it does suggest they will be an interesting team loaded with prospects.

Rotation
LHP Christian Friedrich and RHP Cory Riordan are returning to the Drillers where they will be joined by RHPs Juan Nicasio, Rob Scahill and Josh Sullivan, all of whom pitched at high Class A Modesto last season. After missing the entire 2009 season and virtually all of 2008, Sullivan last year went from extended spring training to short-season Class A Tri-City to Modesto where he understandably had command issues, particularly at the outset, after such prolonged inactivity but pitched well enough in spring training to avoid going back to Modesto.

Scahill finished 10-7, 4.73 at Modesto last year but after going 3-4, 6.51 in 13 starts before the California League all-star game, he went 7-3, 3.41 in 14 second-half starts. Better alignment helped Scahill’s fastball command in the second half, gave him better action on his slider and helped him develop a curveball that had been non-existent in the first half. Additionally, Scahill got the makings of a changeup late in the season and then worked extensively on the pitch.

Bullpen
Casey Weathers has made his way back to Tulsa, where he finished the 2008 season just before going to the Arizona Fall League. He suffered an elbow injury there that required Tommy John surgery and caused him to miss all of 2009 and begin last year in extended spring training before stops at short-season Class A Tri-City and Modesto. Weathers, the eighth overall pick in the 2007 draft, is expected to pitch in a set-up role for the Drillers with Adam Jorgenson, who earned 24 saves at Modesto last year before moving up in early August to Tulsa where he appeared in 12 games, the likely closer.

Catcher
Lars Davis will return to the Drillers. He joined them last year in May after a stay in extended spring training to deal with anxiety and depression. In the March edition of the InsidetheRockies.com Farm Report, Davis was forthright and revealing about overcoming those problems.

Wilin Rosario also is back at Tulsa where his 2010 season ended Aug. 3 when he suffered a torn right anterior cruciate ligament. The return of Rosario, who turned 22 in February, is a combination of the Rockies being conservative with him — initial indications after he was injured were that Rosario wouldn’t be ready to start his season until some time in May _ and catcher Jordan Pacheco‘s stellar spring that landed him at Triple-A Colorado Springs to start the season.

Infield
Shortstop Hector Gomez is not only healthy after a stress fracture in his back slowed him last year but showed very good speed in spring training and played exceptional defense. Third baseman Darin Holcomb is an organizational feel-good story. He missed the entire 2010 season with a lower back condition known as spondylolisthesis that has hampered him since his freshman year at Gonzaga in 2004 and had seemingly reached the career-threatening stage as he slogged on through rehabilitation at a Phoenix facility last year. Holcomb returns to Tulsa where he played in 2009 after a jump from low Class A Asheville in 2008. First baseman Ben Paulsen, who was very impressive in his first big league spring training, moves up from Modesto. So does Thomas Field, also coming off his first big league camp, who played shortstop at Modesto last year but will move to second base because of the presence of Gomez.

Outfield
Center fielder Tim Wheeler moves up from Modesto after a 2010 season there that was more impressive than the statistics would indicate, considering that he, like Paulsen, bypassed Asheville. Scott Beerer, a converted pitcher who turns 29 in July, returns for a make-or-break season that was also a topic of the March Farm Report. Mike Daniel, a minor league free agent who was in the Braves’ organization and before that the Nationals’, is listed as the only other outfielder, which won’t be the case when the Drillers open their season. Regardless, the 25 Tulsa players for Wednesday’s exhibition game with the Rockies are as follows:

PITCHERS (13)

  • Stephen Dodson-RHP
  • Christian Friedrich-LHP
  • Isaiah Froneberger-LHP
  • Sean Jarrett-RHP
  • Adam Jorgenson-RHP
  • Chris Malone-RHP
  • Dustin Molleken-LHP
  • Juan Nicasio-RHP
  • Cory Riordan-RHP
  • Rob Scahill-RHP
  • Josh Sullivan-RHP
  • Joe Torres-LHP
  • Casey Weathers-RHP

CATCHERS (2)

  • Lars Davis
  • Wilin Rosario

INFIELDERS (7)

  • James Cesario-2B
  • Hector Gomez-SS
  • Thomas Field-2B
  • Darin Holcomb-3B
  • Ben Paulsen-1B
  • Warren Schaeffer-UT
  • Erik Wetzel-UT

OUTFIELDERS (3)

  • Scott Beerer
  • Mike Daniel
  • Tim Wheeler

7 Comments »

  • Robb | March 30, 2011 | 5:24 am

    Jack, any chance Matzek ends up at Tulsa this year?

  • Jack Etkin | March 30, 2011 | 9:07 am

    Robb,

    Highly unlikely since Rockies don’t rush prospects, particularly those drafted from high school. And I’d say there is no chance if Matzek opens the season back at Asheville, which some in the organization favor. Regardless, he will play this season at 20. The Rockies want Matzek to consistently throw low strikes this season, make his changeup a regular part of his repertoire and be less analytical on the mound. Ideally, those objectives should be attained this season before he gets to Double-A and faces better hitters. If he stays healthy, Matzek will be able to throw 100 pitches per start after the first month, unlike last year when he was limited to 85 in his first full and first professional season. This should be a season when Matzek builds off the things he did well last year, improves in areas that need it and establishes his professional footing. He’s best served by doing all that prior to pitching at the Double-A level.

  • Rich M | March 30, 2011 | 3:17 pm

    Very interesting to see that Pacheco has apparently leap froged Rosario albeit maybe merely due to Rosario’s injury. This might have as much to do with their respective ages, rather than the respective prospect values.

    Still you gotta love Pacheco’s bat, but wonder if the Rockies really view him as an everyday catcher at the MLB level? In any event, Pacheco likely punched McKendry’s ticket to the Red Sox at a minimum with the way he played this spring.

  • egossage | March 30, 2011 | 9:12 pm

    Well that’s not the way to go into the season. Getting spanked by your AA team. Rest up fellas the season starts Friday!!!

  • robba | March 30, 2011 | 10:10 pm

    Respectfully disagree with egossage. The fact that the AA team can compete with the Big Rox is simply amazing, and, as Jack says, means there is an enormous reservoir of talent in Tulsa. This is a good thing!

  • Karl | March 31, 2011 | 6:50 am

    I also interpret as there was more at stake for the Drillers squad. They were really showing that this was their chance to show the big boys they could play with them. Sort of like when a jv vs. varsity scrimmage in high school. More to prove and only can be a win for the lower level squad. Sounds like good pitching for the Drillers especially Friedrich. His chance to show the players on the Rockies that he thinks he can be up there soon.

  • miketober | March 31, 2011 | 7:46 am

    Robba and Karl make good points, but now the big boys are on a losing streak. It kinda brings back the sting of the way last season ended. Let’s hope we don’t need to dip into that reservoir too soon.