Typically, with these minor league reports, I try to focus more on Asheville, Modesto, and Tulsa. I certainly don’t ignore the Sky Sox, but I figure readers are much more familiar with what’s happening in the Springs. However, today I think it’s appropriate to focus on a couple of AAA position players that are making serious pushes for a call up.
All offensive numbers posted in Colorado Springs must be taken with a grain of salt. Security Service Field is like Coors Field pre-humidor, but worse. In fact, the Rockies should probably buy a humidor for the Sky Sox, but they don’t own the team. Anyway, I digress. My point is that you can’t get over excited about big years with the Sky Sox. It is very difficult to determine if it will translate at the next level. With that said, there are a couple of guys that are having very strong seasons and are probably due for a call-up. Of course, they’re both mainly outfielders, so I don’t know how it’s going to be possible.
The first player I’m thinking about is EY. Junior was slowed at the start of spring training as he was still recovering from a stress fracture that he suffered last year. That set back and a fantastic spring by Jonny Herrera cost him a shot at the big club. However, he’s been fighting like hell to make it back and the Rox may not be able to keep in Colorado Springs for much longer.
It’s difficult to gauge the organization’s true feelings about Junior. This off-season, they agreed to trade him to the Rangers in the Mike Young deal. But, EY’s stress fracture killed the trade. He’s a legitimate stolen base threat that can play several different positions, although he doesn’t play any of them particularly well. He’s been in the bigs for parts of the 2009 and 2010 seasons. However, the Rockies don’t seem willing to give him much of a chance on the big league level.
Frankly, I don’t know if EY will ever become a valuable major league player, but he’s certainly earned his shot. So far this season, Junior is hitting an absurd .372 with a 1.031 OPS. But, those numbers don’t excite me. What excites me about EY’s season is his 16.4 base on balls percentage and his 93.75% success rate on stolen bases. Neither one of those stats are receiving a boost from the high altitude and they are signs of maturation.
The problem with Junior is that the Rockies don’t have anywhere for him to play. Jonny Herrera has a firm hold on the second base job and I’m totally behind that. In the Springs, Young has mostly been in the outfield, but those spots are obviously spoken for. Unless there is an unfortunate injury, we probably won’t see Junior anytime soon.
The other position player I hope we get to see sometime this year is Charlie Blackmon. I’ve been a big fan of Blackmon’s for a long time. I like his athleticism and his sweet left-handed swing. I don’t think he’s going to become a superstar, but I believe he will become a very good major league outfielder. Worst case scenario, I see him as a left-handed, more athletic version of Ryan Spilborghs.
Coming into this season, the biggest knock on Blackmon has been his lack of power. But, he has the type of swing that should naturally create home runs. In spring training he showed signs that he was going to hit more balls out of the yard. So far this year he’s done that, but it’s difficult to know if it’s a product of the Springs or if Charlie is just getting stronger. Either way, I’d really like to find out.
Blackmon faces the same problem as EY. There is nowhere for him to play. The Rockies need help at third base and neither guy can play there. Right now, the outfield is fine. Seth Smith has been playing great, Dexter Fowler has been playing okay, and Cargo will be holding down left field for the next seven years at least. Junior and Charlie will have to wait.
I’ll wrap this up with one final, crazy scenario. Why not try Jonathan Herrera at third and see what EY can do with some time at second? I don’t like Young’s infield defense, but that might put a little makeup on the third base blemish.