Any current report over the Rockies’ minor league system has to include Tyler Matzek. Matzek has been a disaster so far this season. In four starts he has thrown just 12.1 total innings. His ERA is a beefy 10.22 and he is walking 13.14 hitters per every nine innings. Last night in San Jose, he walked eight batters. He surrendered six runs, including a two run homerun, before being pulled in the bottom of the third after failing to record an out.
At this point, it’s easy to second guess the drafting of Matzek. It seems like the Rockies fell in love with him because he is a hard throwing lefty and we know how the organization feels about drafting lefties. Matzek was a player with sign-ability issues. At the time, he was committed to play for the University of Oregon and he made it known that he intended to honor the commitment. The Rockies convinced him to change his mind by offering a franchise record $3.1M signing bonus — a sum far outside of MLB’s recommendation for Matzek’s slot.
I’ve consistently applauded the Rockies for recently changing their draft approach. They’ve made an effort to spend more of their resources on the draft and they’ve ignored the meaningless MLB slot system. As a result, their farm system is vastly improved. However, in hindsight, the Matzek pick seems like a bad decision. This is particularly evident when you look at the players taken after him — Shelby Miller and Mike Trout to name a couple.
In defense of the Rockies, there is no exact science to drafting baseball players. While most first-rounders eventually make it to the Majors, there are a bunch that fail. Very few live up to the expectations of being a first round draft pick by becoming stars. So when the organization committed three million to an eighteen year-old, they knew they were facing a high risk/high return scenario. Still, it’s disappointing. Everyone has high hopes for Matzek. Hopefully he’ll figure it out.
Right now, I’m guessing there are multiple people wondering if Tyler should’ve gone to college first — including Matzek himself.
Players of the Week
All stats are for dates: (4/17 – 4/25)
Bryce Massanari — .516/.590/1.226, 16 H, 7 HR, 18 RBI
Massanari will turn twenty-five on Friday. That’s old for Asheville. Regardless, he has been very impressive. In fact, it’s probably time to move him up to Modesto and bring in Will Swanner from extended spring training. None of the catchers in Modesto are true prospects and the Nuts could certainly use a little help offensively.
Kyle Parker — .500/.533/.857, 7 H, HR, 11 RBI
Parker missed five games last week with a stomach bug. In his first game back he drove in seven runs. Despite not playing since last June, Parker is off to a fast start. I doubt he’ll continue to hit .400, but I expect great numbers from the Rockies’ 2010 top draft pick.
Mike Zuanich — .407/.543/.556, 4 2B
Remember when the Rockies were lacking first base prospects? That is no longer the case. Zuanich is tearing up competition that is a little beneath him. However, there is nowhere else for the Rockies to send the twenty-four-year-old first baseman. Ben Paulsen is entrenched at first in Tulsa and they are keeping Mike Jacobs in Colorado Springs as an insurance policy for Todd Helton. To make matters worse, Jared Clark should be returning from a toe injury relatively soon. Supposedly, he’s headed to Modesto. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out, but too many decent prospects at one position is a nice problem to have.
Dan Houston — 6.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1 H, 6 Ks, 2 BB
Matzek and Bettis are the prospects, but, arguably, Dan Houston has been Modesto’s best starter. Of course, this is also his second season with the Nuts. Nevertheless, the 2008 seventh round draft choice is having a very solid season thus far.
Wilin Rosario — .412/.474/.882, 2 HR, 3B, 4 RBI
Wilin has bounced back strong from last year’s ACL injury. He has four homeruns in forty-two at bats. Overall, he’s hitting .310 with a .714 slugging percentage. If he can stay healthy, it will be tough for the Rockies to keep Rosario in the minors much longer.
Juan Nicasio — 12 IP, 17 Ks, 3.00 ERA, 2-0
Nicasio has been overwhelming AA hitters. He leads the Texas League in FIP (Fielder Independent Pitching ERA) by nearly a full point. He is striking out 12.27 hitters per every nine innings — also tops in the Texas League. His 1.14 WHIP is remarkable considering he has a very unlucky .389 BABIP. Nicasio is quickly developing into one of the top pitching prospects in baseball.
Charlie Blackmon — .385/.455/.564, 7 2B, 7 RBI, 3 SB, 4 BB
God forbid one of the Rockies’ outfielders gets hurt, but, if someone does succumb to injury, they better call up Charlie Blackmon. His outstanding spring has carried over into the regular season. In the past, he has always hit for average, but his power has been slow to develop. That may no longer be the case. So far this season, Blackmon has a 1.031 OPS. Granted his numbers are receiving a boost from the Colorado Springs altitude, but not all of his success has come at home. He went 13-36 with a homerun, a triple, and four doubles on the Sky Sox most recent road trip. He’s ready to get some big league experience.
Greg Reynolds — 12 IP, 2.25 ERA, 10 Ks, 2 BB, 2-0
Reynolds is a familiar face. When Ubaldo was out with his thumb issues, Reynolds stepped up and made two solid starts. His success has many calling for him to replace Esmil Rogers in the rotation. That’s probably not a good idea, but it’s also a discussion for another day. Since being sent down to the Springs, Reynolds has been rock solid. He has been throwing strikes and stranding base runners. Let’s hope he continues to throw well; the Rockies will definitely need him to start a few more games this season.