Called up from Tulsa this morning, new Sky Sox lefty Brandon
Durden is set to make his AAA debut on Thursday against the Albuquerque
A command specialist, the talented lefty comes off a
successful start to the season with the Drillers, having posted a 1-3 record with a 4.93 ERA.
This following up a stellar 2009 campaign that saw the hurler post a 3.46 ERA
in 101.1 innings with Tulsa, Durden seems primed to provide much-needed relief
to the Sky Sox’ revolving-door rotation.
Perhaps Durden’s best attribute is his stinginess with free
passes. Having walked just 54 batters in the last two seasons, the big lefty
has averaged just 1.98 walks per nine innings over that span – among the best
rates in the Rockies’ system.
Thursday’s start will surely be a significant test of Durden’s
meddle. Though the pitcher has more than enough talent to succeed against the
Isotopes’ lineup, Durden will be up against jitters and the elements in his
Facing off against one of the most righty-heavy lineups in
the league, he will also have to combat first-start nerves, a jump in talent to
unfamiliar AAA hitters, the high altitude, and an impending snow fall that will
be a stark climate contrast to the Tulsa environs with which he is familiar.
Either way, expect Durden to turn heads while with the CoSox
as a far more-than-adequate patch for the club’s beleaguered rotation.
Since being sent down from the Rockies on April 27, Chris
Iannetta has led the Sky Sox attack. In six games since his debut on April 29,
Iannetta has batted .320 (8-for-25) with two home runs, seven runs scored, and
six RBI. Hitting fifth in the lineup on most nights, he has also appeared at first
base and designated hitter.
For an offense that has struggled at times this season, Sox
fans can be confident that Iannetta will continue to produce while in the Sox
lineup – his hot hitting is no fluke.
2010 being the catcher’s fourth stint with the club, he has compiled
a .328 average with six homers and 35 RBI in 72 games in the Springs. In 2006,
his sole extended stay, Iannetta hit .351 with three homers in 151 at-bats.
Not too shabby for a catcher.
And it would be nothing short of foolish to consider
Iannetta damaged goods in light of his struggles at the Major League level.
Though he did struggle to hit line drives – doing so in just over ten percent
of his batted balls this season – his lowly .118 batting average on balls in
play (BABIP) was certain to rise considerably.
Most batters’ BABIP centers around .300 with Iannetta’s
career mark standing at .279. Whether the backstop had timing issues, trouble
seeing the ball, or just bad luck with the Rockies remains to be seen.
However, one thing is certain: Iannetta is a near-lock to
produce while with the Sky Sox and will likely be back in Denver before long.