Iannetta Sent Down
Having taken the PCL by storm, heralded Sky Sox starter
Jhoulys Chacin was called up to the Rockies to fill the rotation slot of
injured Rox hurler Jorge de la Rosa.
With a 1.69 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 21.1 innings (8.86 K/9
rate), the Denver brass decided it was the right time to give Chacin and his
big changeup another go-round against MLB hitters.
While it remains to be seen how Chacin will perform this time
around in the big leagues, there is no question that the Sky Sox’ best pitcher
has the requisite talent.
In four starts this season, Chacin has allowed just four
earned runs – all coming in his second start against Portland. His three other
trips to the hill all resulted in shutout victories for the Sox.
But Chacin is much more than just a high-octane, strikeout
With a high groundball:flyball ratio of nearly two, the
hurler follows Denver’s model of success for young pitchers to a T – throw low
strikes, miss bats, and kill as many worms as possible.
In short, Chacin is looking every bit the ace the Sky Sox
thought they had to start the year.
Though he will be sorely missed in the Colorado Springs rotation,
the Sky Sox couldn’t be more excited to see another one of their talented
youngsters graduate to the big leagues — and continue on with what should be a
long, illustrious career.
Iannetta to the
Rockies starting catcher, Chris Iannetta, was sent down to
Colorado Springs on Tuesday after scuffling out of the gate to begin the
season. With just four hits in 30 at-bats (.133), Iannetta managed just a .235
OBP and .333 slugging percentage – a far cry from his 18 home runs and .264
average that made him one of the best young catchers in the National League during
the ’08 campaign.
With fellow backstop Miguel Olivo relieving pressure from
the team with his torrid start, the Rockies thought that now was the perfect time
to give Iannetta some AAA at-bats to get him back on track.
The stint will be Iannetta’s fourth with Colorado Springs,
as he had spent parts of 2006, 2007, and 2009 with the club. Between those
three partial seasons, Iannetta was able to hit .336 with five homers in 260
With his talent, Iannetta should provide an immediate boost
to the Sky Sox catching corps that has struggled out of the gate thus far.
Incumbent Sox catchers Michael McKenry and Paul Phillips have hit just
14-for-67 (.209) to date with just one home run and five RBI.
Perhaps the biggest question yet to be resolved will be the dispersal of playing time between McKenry and Iannetta. While Iannetta will get plenty of at-bats by order of the big club, the Rox would be remiss to sacrifice the playing time of their best catching prospect, McKenry.
Thankfully, the Sky Sox can fall back on manager Stu Cole’s expertise and guidance, which will be critical in the handling of this situation.
Sky Sox closer Juan Rincon was promoted Tuesday
along with Chacin and Phillips. With five saves on the season, Rincon will
provide a boost to the Rox’ relief corps.
To fill the rotation spot vacated by Jhoulys
Chacin, the Sox will call upon swing man Alan Johnson (0-0, 3.60). Allowing
just one earned run in his first two starts, Johnson is proving once again how
valuable a commodity he is – providing depth in the ‘pen while still a great
option to fill in for spot duty. Johnson finished second on the team in innings
pitched (143.0 IP) last season while tying with Brandon Hynick for first in
Sox relievers Kurt Birkins and Matt Wilhite were
activated to fill Chacin’s and Rincon’s roster spots.
With the Sky Sox pitching staff performing at arguably the
highest level it has in the team’s history, the rotation just got a little stronger this past week as
starter Esmil Rogers was sent down to AAA after a successful two-week stint
with the big club.
Now, the Sky Sox may have the best rotation in the PCL.
With dueling aces Jhoulys Chacin (2-0, 2.25) and Rogers
(0-0, 0.00) heading up the rotation while MLB vet Tim Redding (0-0, 3.07) holds
down the third slot, there is little not to like about the staff. With fourth
and fifth starters Samuel Deduno (1-1, 3.07) and Chaz Roe (1-2, 5.40) standing
in as high upside options at the rotation’s back end, the team is prepped to it
kick it into high gear at any second.
Samuel Deduno, in particular, is an interesting case.
Drawing plenty of comparisons to Rockies’ ace Ubaldo Jimenez, Deduno’s primary
offering is a hard fastball with great
sink that allows him to generate very high groundball rates. In addition, much
like Jimenez, he has the stuff to strike out a batter an inning while keeping
the ball on the ground – the Rockies’ organizational prototype for success in
the thin mountain air.
And, even more exciting, Deduno remains just a tweak or two
away from becoming a bona fide Major League starter.
… because there is just so much to like about Deduno. With a
fastball sitting in the low 90s, a power curve, and a changeup, there is no
question that the raw stuff is there – evidenced by a 10.1 K/9 rate since the
pitcher graduated from the Dominican Summer League.
While he has continued to mow down hitters in the upper
minors with an 8.6 K/9 rate since debuting in AA during the ’07 season, the one
sticking point with Deduno has always been command. Possessing a 4.93 BB/9 rate
over that same time period, it becomes evident that the walks will have to come
down for Deduno to realize his sky-high potential.
But, as Jimenez’ career line suggests, there is no reason to
bet against the prospect.
Reaching AA in 2005, Jimenez pitched 377.2 innings between
Tulsa and Colorado Springs through 2007, struggling with his command the entire
way to the tune of a 4.99 BB/9 rate.
Despite the relative struggles – and with a few minor bumps
in the road – Jimenez has developed into the Rockies’ undisputed ace, posting a
3.80 ERA since his Rockies debut in ’06, including a 3.47 ERA in ’09 and
tolerable 3.5 BB/9 rate.
While Deduno still has a few adjustments to make before
realizing his potential, if there is anyone who is poised for a big breakout
this season, count Deduno among them.
And if he does, watch out for the Sky Sox five-headed rotation monster.
Chacin, Rogers, Redding, Deduno, and Roe?
Maybe a 2010 playoff run is in the cards for the Sox after all!