Minor League Monday


Time for another installment of Minor League Monday! Here’s your comprehensive report on all the Rockies’ minor league teams from Rookie Ball all the way up through Triple-A.

Casper Ghosts (0-0, Pioneer League South Division)

The Rookie Affiliate Casper Ghosts have yet to begin their 2011 season. The short-season club opens up their year against the Orem Owlz on June 20th.

Tri-City Dust Devils (0-0, Northwest League East Division)
The Tri-City Dust Devils, the short-season Class-A affiliate, open their 2011 campaign with a five-game series against the defending Northwest League champions Everett AquaSox on June 17th.

Asheville Tourists (30-34, 7.5 GB – South Atlantic League Southern Division)
The Tourists opened up June with a mediocre 6-6 record, and now find themselves 7.5 games back in the SAL Southern. Catcher Bryce Massinari remains the Tourists’ hottest hitter with a slash line of .351/.437/.592, 12 home runs, and 38 RBIs. If he keeps performing at levels like that, he may find himself on a plane to Modesto soon. Last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Kyle Parker, is hitting a solid .280 with 8 home runs and 47 RBIs. On the mound, Edwar Cabrera is impressing. After throwing 78 innings, Cabrera has himself a very nice 3.23 ERA and a 4-1 record in 12 games started. He, too, could find a plane ticket to Modesto in his locker very soon. Josh Mueller is on the up-and-up with a 2.45 ERA after 10 games, 6 of which he started. Mueller could be converted to a solid reliable relief pitcher, and could prove very effective in that role in the higher levels of the Rockies organization.

Modesto Nuts (28-34, 17 GB in the California League North Division)
The Modesto Nuts find themselves six games under .500, but will have to make noise in the second half of the season if they want to make the playoffs. Their division rival, the San Jose Giants (Advanced Single-A affilliate of… you guessed it, San Francisco) captured the 2011 first-half division crown with a record of 45-17. First baseman Mike Zuanich was tabbed for the California League All-Star Game, and rightfully so. He’s a legitimate Triple Crown threat, hitting .365 with 11 home runs and 44 RBIs at the break. He is joined on the All-Star team by pitchers Dan Houston (6-1, 2.83 ERA in 76.1 innings) and Chad Bettis (4-4, 4.52 ERA in 77.2 innings). Third baseman Nolan Arenado continues to shine, hitting .283 with 6 home runs and 40 RBIs. It’s possible Arenado could be the Rockies’ third baseman of the future, and with a little more conditioning both offensively and defensively, he could prove to be very valuable in the Purple Pinstripes.

Tulsa Drillers (31-31, 1.5 GB in the Texas League North Division)
The Drillers are in the thick of a midseason division title and postseason berth in the Texas League thanks in large part to the play of Tim Wheeler. Through 62 games, Wheeler is hitting .320 with 17 home runs and 55 RBIs, and is absolutely tearing apart Double-A pitching. Headliner prospects like Wilin Rosario (.250, 9 home runs, 20 RBIs), Hector Gomez (.205, 7 home runs, 27 RBIs), and Ben Paulsen (.246, 7 home runs, 30 RBIs) are not performing up to par. Pitcher Christian Friedrich has evened out some, posting a 4-4 record through 65 innings with an ERA of 4.29. Through 18.2 innings, reliever Casey Weathers is putting up a 1-2 record with an ERA of 4.82.

Colorado Springs Sky Sox (30-35, 8 GB in the Pacific Coast League Pacific North Division)
The Sky Sox exploded for seven home runs in one game back on June 7th against the Sacramento Bees. Security Service Field has kept it’s reputation of a launching pad this season. Outfielder Willy Taveras (.281, seven home runs, 23 RBIs) set the club record last week with three straight lead-off home runs, Ian Stewart (.323, 10 home runs, 27 RBIs) hit his 44th home run in a Sky Sox uniform, and Josh Fields continues to make a case for season MVP, hitting .365 with 11 home runs and 45 RBIs. Reliever Claudio Vargas officially retired from baseball on Monday night, the club said. Vargas was 2-2 with an 11.08 ERA in 26 innings pitched. The Sox lost Clayton Mortenson, Rex Brothers, and Matt Daley to the Rockies, and have a team ERA of 6.48 in 564 innings thus far in 2011. That explains why the Sky Sox are so far back in their division, though 10 of their 16 batters are hitting over .300 for the year.

For more coverage of the Rockies’ minor league teams, check out RoxPile’s weekly Minor League Monday reports, and check out our Down on the Farm page!