Sent down from Denver, Dexter Fowler made his long awaited Sky
Sox debut on Monday – having skipped
over AAA on his way to the bigs in 2009.
Jonathan Herrera was called up to fill his roster spot,
providing depth to the Rockies’ struggling middle infield. With starting second
baseman Clint Barmes batting a paltry .219 and incumbent backup middle
infielder Melvin Mora homerless in 66 at-bats, the Rockies thought it was time
for a change – Herrera called upon to provide a boost. Having hit .286 with a
home run and 20 walks in 168 AAA at-bats, Herrera fueled the Sky Sox offense
from the leadoff spot.
He should be ready for the challenge.
Fowler, on the other hand, was sent down to work on his
swing – the toolsy outfielder having hit just .216 with one homer in 139
at-bats. Making the decision easier was the emergence of former Sky Sox outfielder
Seth Smith, who, while splitting time with Fowler, has hit .268 with eight
homers in 127 at-bats this season.
The addition of Fowler, though coming at the loss of
Herrera, has been a long time coming for Sox fans. This being the first time
Fowler will don a uniform at Security Service Field, Sox fans will finally get
to see the former top prospect in action. And, if his Monday debut was any
indication (4-for-4, 4R, HR, 3RBI, 2B, 2BB), Sox fans will love every minute of
Still, the move is problematic for the Sox’ roster makeup.
Now with five outfielders all deserving of full-time at-bats (Fowler, Jay
Payton, Chris Frey, Cole Garner, Matt Miller), the logjam may make it difficult
for batters on the short end of the playing time stick to find their groove –
hurting their ability to produce for the team. In addition, the loss of Herrera
leaves the club without a backup middle infielder, leaving Chris Nelson and Kaz
Matsui to pick up the slack and tough it out on days where they would normally
Exciting as the acquisition is, manager Stu Cole has some
serious roster juggling awaiting him to ensure that all players receive plate
appearances and develop properly. Alleviating the problem somewhat are 17
consecutive games against American League affiliates following the conclusion
of the current series against Reno. The DH will be required in these matches,
freeing up more at-bats for the spare outfielders. Nevertheless, the club’s
lineup construction will be a very interesting discussion point over the next