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Monday, December 12, 2005

BA: Rockies Top 10

The Rockies have the opposite problem from the Dodgers; all of their minor league farm teams play in good hitting environments (as does the big club, of course). I think that makes it tough for the Rox to develop pitching prospects, for two reasons.

1. It’s hard for them to get innings under their belts, because they have to throw more pitches to get through a typical five-inning effort.
2. It’s hard for them to get the sense of succeeding. A five-inning, three-run outing in Tulsa or Colorado Springs is a “good” outing, but that’s not a pitcher’s typical mindset.

When the A-ball team was in Salem and the AA team was in Carolina, at least there was some semblance of normality to the environment.

I’m not especially impressed with this group beyond the top 2. I like Stewart’s chances of rebounding (he finished very well), and I think Tulowitzki is going to be a stud. I’ll be surprised if the Rockies get anything special from the rest of the top 10 - although I suppose if Nelson gets his head screwed on straight he could develop.

Mike Emeigh Posted: December 12, 2005 at 06:27 PM | 31 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: minor leagues, prospect reports, rockies

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   1. 1k5v3L Posted: December 12, 2005 at 07:01 PM (#1773717)
I like Chris Iannetta a lot. Very good plate discipline, solid pop for a catcher. Won't be anywhere as good as Ian/Troy, but he should be a lot better than Closser. Nelson's value has dropped a bit (a lot?) but he is young and toolsy. I guess that'll have to do for now.

Aside from that, does anyone ever get excited about COL's pitching prospects?
   2. Tracy Ringolsby Posted: December 12, 2005 at 07:11 PM (#1773749)
I'd never heard Tulsa or Modesto or Tri-City ever referred to as hitter friendly parks. I know Colorado Springs and Asheville are. Casper is pretty fair from best I can tell.
   3. Dr. Vaux Posted: December 12, 2005 at 07:12 PM (#1773751)
No, because they'll just get lit up once they make the majors anyway. If I were an MLB pitching prospect, I'd just refuse to pitch for the Rockies. They'd trade me, because I'd bring something in return, and they wouldn't get anything out of me otherwise. Obviously I could only do that if I was a good prospect...
   4. Dingbat_Charlie Posted: December 12, 2005 at 07:23 PM (#1773776)
I think Shealy could do some damage if set free. I'd love to see the O's get him.
   5. MM1f Posted: December 12, 2005 at 07:24 PM (#1773778)
WHat are the head problems you've heard about Nelson? I thought it was just hammy problems combined with a bad year
   6. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: December 12, 2005 at 07:26 PM (#1773782)
From Dan's PF thread:
<u>Team                R    H   2B   HR   BB   SO</u>   
Colorado         1.34 1.22 1.22 1.24 1.08 0.92 
Colorado Springs 1.11 1.02 0.92 1.01 0.88 0.83 
Tulsa            0.95 0.94 0.96 1.19 1.13 1.18 
Modesto          0.99 0.96 1.10 0.69 0.99 1.10 
Asheville        1.24 1.08 0.82 1.59 1.03 0.85 
Tri-City (NW)    0.95 1.08 1.34 0.34 1.05 1.17 


It bears noting that the Cal League is a far better environment for hitters than the Carolina League - to a lesser extent, the TL is easier for hitters than the Southern.

What will be done with Matt Macri (he's blocked at third by Stewart and short by Tulowitzki)?
   7. Ignatius J. Reilly Posted: December 12, 2005 at 07:35 PM (#1773794)
Pretty sure that Macri is being tried at second...
   8. 1k5v3L Posted: December 12, 2005 at 07:44 PM (#1773812)
WHat are the head problems you've heard about Nelson?

His head isn't screwed on straight. So he has problems recognizing pitches.
   9. Boomer Posted: December 12, 2005 at 08:14 PM (#1773851)
His head isn't screwed on straight. So he has problems recognizing pitches.


This also results in a bunch of errors on wild throws to 1st.
   10. KJOK Posted: December 12, 2005 at 08:27 PM (#1773870)
Tulsa historically is a hitters park, although that may be partially obscured in the park factors by the fact they play in a league where almost all the parks are hitter friendly.

I also think Iannetta has a chance to be very good. Unfortunately, he was injured late in the year, or he might be ready TODAY to catch for the Rockies.

Jimenez has good stuff, but he didn't really PITCH all that well in Tulsa, and was in fact one of the least impressive rotation starters last year.
   11. Mike Emeigh Posted: December 12, 2005 at 10:30 PM (#1774136)
Tulsa historically is a hitters park, although that may be partially obscured in the park factors by the fact they play in a league where almost all the parks are hitter friendly.

That's correct. A pitchers' park in a hitter's league may still be a good hitting environment, because the park factors are calculated in the league context. The Texas League and Cal League are hitters' leagues - so while Tulsa and Modesto have park factors <1 in their league contexts, they are still good hitting environments.

WHat are the head problems you've heard about Nelson?

There have been some issues raised as to whether or not he's coachable, and whether or not he is willing to make adjustments.

-- MWE
   12. The Keith Law Blog Blah Blah (battlekow) Posted: December 12, 2005 at 10:30 PM (#1774137)
Mike, I don't understand your complaints about the Rockies' minor league environments. Ideally, wouldn't a club want all the parks in its system to mimic the milieu they'll be faced with at the major league level?
   13. The Keith Law Blog Blah Blah (battlekow) Posted: December 12, 2005 at 10:30 PM (#1774140)
"They" being the prospects, of course.
   14. Kyle S Posted: December 12, 2005 at 10:43 PM (#1774172)
I'm a Joe Koshansky fan. He was in a (really tough) economics class with me my third year at UVA. The class was socratically taught, meaning if you hadn't prepared the teacher would ream you out - you had to be on your toes every day. He missed few classes despite his baseball schedule and was always on top of the discussion. It was cool to see him rip bombs like he did last year, even if he was in a park tailor-made for it.

Go Joe!
   15. Mike Emeigh Posted: December 12, 2005 at 10:47 PM (#1774183)
Ideally, wouldn't a club want all the parks in its system to mimic the milieu they'll be faced with at the major league level?

Ideally, a club wants to put its prospects into environments in which they can develop their skills to the maximum extent possible. I think extreme hitters' environments can work against pitchers (as I said above) and also hitters, too. Hitters can succeed in extreme hitters' environments while still maintaining bad habits (I think that was part of Stewart's problem in the first part of 2005), and it's a lot harder to make necessary adjustments when there is a minimal penalty for doing things the old way.

-- MWE
   16. The Keith Law Blog Blah Blah (battlekow) Posted: December 13, 2005 at 01:03 AM (#1774462)
So you're saying a prospect has to experience failure before they're willing to improve? Were I running the Rockies (which, granted, isn't about to happen), I'd want my prospects, pitchers especially, playing in Coors-like environments from the moment they were drafted, teaching them coping strategies along the way. I also wouldn't trade for any advanced pitching prospects from other organizations.
   17. 1k5v3L Posted: December 13, 2005 at 01:07 AM (#1774466)
Instead, I'd sign proven winners like Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle.
   18. Home Run Teal & Black Black Black Gone! Posted: December 13, 2005 at 02:23 AM (#1774575)
I'd want my prospects, pitchers especially, playing in Coors-like environments from the moment they were drafted


All this will do is guarantee that they'll remain oblivious to their problems 50% of the time. Its like pumping up the Coors "hangover" on steroids.

If there is a tactic to Coors field its grooming groundball pitchers. But, in any case, they need just plain good pitching. The Rockies have never had that; the Coors numbers simply exaggerate the fact.
   19. Mike Emeigh Posted: December 13, 2005 at 03:57 AM (#1774676)
If there is a tactic to Coors field its grooming groundball pitchers.

I disagree. A ball in play is more likely to be a hit at Coors Field than anywhere else in MLB, regardless of whether it's a ground ball or a fly ball - so the idea would be to focus on guys who can get outs without putting the ball in play (e.g. strikeout pitchers).

-- MWE
   20. The Keith Law Blog Blah Blah (battlekow) Posted: December 13, 2005 at 06:58 AM (#1774889)
But strikeout pitchers throw more pitches, the effect of which is exacerbated by the relative lack of oxygen. Carlos Zambrano-walks+infield defense is the way to go.
   21. Spivey Posted: December 13, 2005 at 08:17 AM (#1774982)
battlekow: Zambrano basically gets all K's and groundballs. Well obviously that's the way to go, but you can't expect to have 1 of him, let alone 5.
   22. Spivey Posted: December 13, 2005 at 08:19 AM (#1774984)
Didn't Ringolsby say that Chris Nelson was already a top 10 or 15 prospect at the end of last year?
   23. Dr. Vaux Posted: December 13, 2005 at 08:22 AM (#1774990)
Has anybody compiled the numbers on what really good pitchers have done at Coors? Even pretty good pitchers just get indiscriminately lit up there most of the time, but what about really good ones, i.e. high strikeout ones?
   24. The Keith Law Blog Blah Blah (battlekow) Posted: December 13, 2005 at 03:28 PM (#1775126)
Spivey: Well obviously. I wasn't suggesting they get the actual Carlos Zambrano, just that a pitcher of his type would be the ideal target for the Rockies.
   25. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 13, 2005 at 03:39 PM (#1775143)
I think that having an affiliate at Colorado Springs has made sense for the Rockies in two ways:

1) It's close at hand, so you can shuffle guys in and out of the pen to keep arms fresh.
2) It's a valuable source of intel about what sorts of pitchers/pitches work well at altitude. This isn't such an important consideration now, but back when they were starting things up, it must've been huge.
   26. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: December 13, 2005 at 04:39 PM (#1775246)
I disagree. A ball in play is more likely to be a hit at Coors Field than anywhere else in MLB, regardless of whether it's a ground ball or a fly ball - so the idea would be to focus on guys who can get outs without putting the ball in play (e.g. strikeout pitchers).
Coors has consistently depressed strikeout rates - though some of that may be a function of pitchers changing how they pitch when in Denver - so I'm not sure that's *the* way to go either.

I don't think there's an easy answer to pitching at Coors (apart from using good pitchers), but probably would try to emphasize power groundballers, while slowing the infield grass as much as possible. Of course, as Spivey notes, good luck finding them - particularly if you're worried about walks. As for flyball pitchers (after all, they'll likely want a fast outfield anyway to deal with the expansive layout), a lot of those guys work off breaking stuff which is more likely to be affected by altitude.

I absolutely agree with Vlad (post 25).
   27. KJOK Posted: December 13, 2005 at 08:28 PM (#1775628)
I'm a Joe Koshansky fan. He was in a (really tough) economics class with me my third year at UVA. The class was socratically taught, meaning if you hadn't prepared the teacher would ream you out - you had to be on your toes every day. He missed few classes despite his baseball schedule and was always on top of the discussion. It was cool to see him rip bombs like he did last year, even if he was in a park tailor-made for it.

Koshansky has quite a bit of power, but I'm not optimistic he'll make enough contact to make the majors, although he could turn into a Russell Branyan type of hitter. He does seem to field 1st base well.
   28. JPWF13 Posted: December 13, 2005 at 08:33 PM (#1775636)
Has anybody compiled the numbers on what really good pitchers have done at Coors? Even pretty good pitchers just get indiscriminately lit up there most of the time, but what about really good ones, i.e. high strikeout ones?

Coors depresses Ks because the ball breaks less at altitude- but some pitchers get Ks based on pure heat and changing speeds...

also how about an extreme groundball pitcher like Webb?
   29. Mike Emeigh Posted: December 13, 2005 at 10:24 PM (#1775815)
Webb has a 4.22 career ERA at Coors, but has allowed 10 unearned runs (and 20 ER) in 42 2/3 innings there, so his RA/9 is over 6.

In 10 career starts at Coors Field, Randy Johnson has pitched 67 2/3 innings and allowed 29 earned runs and 8 unearned runs. That's a 3.86 ERA and 4.92 RA/9.

Greg Maddux has never pitched well in Colorado; in fact, Bobby Cox on a couple of occasions juggled his rotation so that Maddux would not start in Coors.

-- MWE
   30. Mike Emeigh Posted: December 13, 2005 at 10:43 PM (#1775852)
Koshansky has quite a bit of power, but I'm not optimistic he'll make enough contact to make the majors, although he could turn into a Russell Branyan type of hitter.

Asheville is the home run capital of the SAL - Jose Valdez, a 6-1, 150-lb stringbean out of the DR with very little real power, hit 21 there - and Koshansky was old for low-A at 23, so you really have to downplay those numbers. 15 Ks in 45 ABs at Tulsa suggests that he has some work to do.

-- MWE
   31. Kyle S Posted: December 13, 2005 at 11:16 PM (#1775925)
Career IP/ERA in Coors (through 2004) for selected NL starters:

Pitcher      IP   ERA
GMaddux:     36   5.70
Schilling:   87   5.51
RJohnson:    67   3.86
PMartinez:   21   3.43
JSchmidt:    53   4.92
TGlavine:    67   3.34
JSmoltz:     33   4.81
KBrown:      55   3.93
JPeavy:      26   3.38
KWood:       20   4.50
HNomo:       53   8.05
AnBenes:     51   6.45
LiHernandez: 53   8.05
KMillwood:   45   3.97
SReynolds:   31   4.60
BWebb:       28   4.08
MPrior:      19   1.42
RuOrtiz:     42   4.50


It's easy to say the Rockies should get good pitchers, but who exactly should they get? It's not obvious - the most successful guy on this list with at least 30 IP is Tommy Glavine, whose best "skill" is not giving up home runs with runners on base.

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