Battle for 3rd place: Colorado Rockie Preview

Reports of Helton's demise were greatly exaggerated (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

Much has changed for the Rockies since our last preview.

Additions: Charles Blackmon, Eric Young, Juan Nicasio, Aaron Cook, Clay Mortensen, Chris Nelson

Subtractions: Jose Lopez, Felipe Paulino, Ian Stewart

On the DL: Dexter Fowler, Jorge De La Rosa

Position Breakdown

1st Base - Todd Helton is having a big resurgence, looking very much like the 2009 model with his .316/.384/.534 Triple Stat Line.

2nd Base - Jose Lopez  lost the gig and his spot on the 25 man roster. Chris Nelson is trying to fill the spot with Jonathan Herrera and Eric Young Junior waiting for him to fail.  He's had 23 plate appearances so far, so nothing to talk about yet. He was the 9th pick of the 2004 draft and it has taken him longer then anyone expected to find a spot on the Rockie roster. Scouting report per baseballhq.com

Chris Nelson (INF, COL)
In need of infield depth, the Rockies turned to the 25-year-old right-handed hitter. Nelson was a first round selection in the '09 draft and finally reached the majors in '10 - he hit .280 with 0 HR. He is an outstanding athlete who is starting to live up to lofty expectations. Nelson has the ability to hit for BA while showcasing his moderate power and speed. His pitch recognition is more than adequate, though he can be a little aggressive and expand the strike zone in the hopes of hitting for more pop. Nelson is a good defender with a strong arm, ample range, and soft hands and he can play any infield position. Injuries have taken their toll on him, but if given the opportunity, Nelson could still become a starting infielder in Colorado. He is a career .278/.342/.440 hitter with a high of 19 HR in '07.
STATS: Colorado Springs (AAA) - 197 AB, .315/.346/.503, 14 2b, 5 HR, 0.29 Eye, 2 SB

SS - Troy Tulowitzki is struggling offensively  for a man with his talent. Since April 15th he has an OPS of .666. The number of the beast just keeps showing up in these previews.  At this point in the season he has a wRC of 112. Jamey Carroll is at 111. The man many considered the best NL SS is far behind the likes of Jose Reyes and Stephen Drew. Defensively, the metrics in 2011 say he is the best by far.

3rd Base - Like Jose Lopez, Ian Stewart also failed to keep his gig. Stewart his now crushing in AAA while Ty WIggington tries to hold down the fort.

C - Chris Iannetta still having a solid season.

CF - Carlos Gonzalez has been moved back to CF with Fowler on the DL. The word is that he's going to stay there. Carlos had a great May but so far in June he's struggling as though caught in quicksand with a June OPS of .472. That is not slugging, that is OPS. Who says Jerry Sands does not have anything in common with Cargo:)

LF - Now belongs to Charles Blackmon who was just recalled this week.  Blackmon is left-handed, was the second round pick in 2008, so he's made a quick journey to the major leagues.  He had an OPS of .965 in the PCL. To put that into perspective, Ian Stewart who was demoted because he can't hit major league pitching has an OPS of 1.226 on the same team. Scouting report per baseballhq.com

Charles Blackmon (OF, COL)
The Rockies selected the 24-year-old in the second round of the '08 draft and he was fairly raw at the time. Since the draft, Blackmon has steadily improved and polished many nuances of his game. At 6'3" 200 pounds, he is a solid athlete with an intriguing mix of power and speed. His bat speed is starting to translate into moderate-to-plus pop. As evidenced by his career line of .316/.376/.475, Blackmon is a good hitter who makes easy contact. He isn't the most patient hitter, but he takes clean cuts and doesn't strike out much. In the outfield, Blackmon can play all three positions, but projects best in a corner. His arm strength and range are merely average, but he has shown improved routes and jumps. The Rockies have an abundance of outfielders, but it is expected that Blackmon gets regular work.
STATS: Colorado Springs (AAA) - 243 AB, .342/.396/.576, 19 2b, 10 HR, 0.56 Eye, 12 SB

RF - Seth Smith (LH) and Ryan Spilborghs (RH) continue to platoon. Smith is hitting , Ryan is not.

Bench Ryan Spilborghs, Jose Morales, Jonathan Herrera, Eric Young Junior, and Jason Giambi round out a solid bench with power, speed, and patience. 

Starting Pitching for our Series:

Game One - Newcomer Juan Nicasio gets the call against the Dodgers. He's made two starts so he has gotten his feet wet. Scouting report per baseballhq.com

Juan Nicasio (RHP, COL)
The Colorado Rockies called up RHP Juan Nicasio to fill in temporarily for the injured Jorge De La Rosa. Nicasio has a solid three-pitch mix that includes a 90-95 mph fastball that tops out at 97 mph, an inconsistent slider, and a much improved change-up. Somewhat of a late bloomer, the 24-year-old Nicasio had a breakout season in 2010. In 28 starts in the hitter-friendly CAL, Nicasio was 12-10 with a 3.91 ERA. Even more impressive was his strikeout to walk ratio. In 177 IP Nicasio walked only 31 while striking out 171. Nicasio is a strike-throwing machine and hasn't missed a beat to start 2011. After nine Double-A starts he is 5-1 with a 2.22 ERA with 10 BB/63 K in 56.2 IP. The jump from Double-A to the majors will not be easy, but if Nicasio can learn to keep the ball down in the zone he has the potential to develop into a solid mid-rotation starter and is worth rostering in NL only leagues.
STATS: Tulsa (AA) - 9 gs, 5-1 2.22 ERA, 56.2 IP, 6.3 Cmd, 1.6 Ctl, 10.0 Dom, 3 HR.

Game Two - Jhoulys Chacin should be fresh in Dodger fan minds after he twirled a beautiful game on April 5th against them.

Game Three - Jason Hammel has started twice against the Dodgers this year giving up 11 runs in 9 innings. Nuff said

Game Four - Ubaldo Jimenez appears to be back with zero walks over his last two games in 16 innings.

Bullpen - Huston Street continues to be the closer but the Rockies have a new kid on the block. Scouting report per baseballhq.com

Rex Brothers (LHP, COL)
In a highly anticipated move, the Rockies recalled the 23-year-old from Triple-A where he was dominant with a very high strikeout rate. Brothers was a supplemental first round selection in the '09 draft and has all the ingredients to become a big league closer. He was converted to a reliever upon signing and there are no apparent plans to move him from his role. Brothers' fastball runs between 91-97 mph and it exhibits plenty of late movement. He isn't very tall (6'0"), but he relies on pitch movement to keep the ball down. His mid-80's slider is his strikeout pitch and it has severe late break. Brothers rarely throws a changeup and he must improve his command in order to secure a prominent role in the bullpen. He has high upside with his potent fastball-slider combo. Brothers has posted a career 3.13 ERA, 4.9 Ctl, and 11.8 Dom.
STATS: Colorado Springs (AAA) - 25 g, 3-2 2.89 ERA, 28 IP, 3.0 Cmd, 4.8 Ctl, 14.5 Dom, 2 HR, .266 oppBA

Others in the bullpen include Rafael Betancourt, Matt Belisle, LHP Matt Reynolds, and Matt Lindstrom

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