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!