June 2012

Rockies Apodaca asked to be reassigned, MLB.com has learned

DENVER — Rockies pitching coach Bob Apodaca has asked to be reassigned and the club granted him the request on Tuesday, MLB.com has learned.

The Rockies have yet to make a formal announcement. Sources with knowledge of the situation said Apodaca, pitching coach since 2003 — the first full year that Clint Hurdle managed the Rockies — made the request. Apodaca, 63, has yet to address the situation.

Apodaca, who remained the Rockies’ pitching coach after Jim Tracy took over during the 2009 season, was in street clothes in the Rockies’ coaching office while bullpen coach Jim Wright oversaw Juan Nicasio facing hitters at Coors Field. Nicasio is coming back from a strained left knee.

The Rockies rank last in baseball with a 5.29 ERA and the team is 28-44. Since last week, the club has gone to an unusual four-man pitching rotation under which starters are limited to 75 pitches. It’s an idea that has been discussed for several years at several points by the front office. Extreme difficulty pitching at home and short, ineffective work by the starters, brought about the implementation of the idea a week ago in Philadelphia.

Results have been mixed. Jeff Francis has had two strong starts in victories, but Alex White has pitched himself to a demotion to Triple-A Colorado Springs, Christian Friedrich (who was to start Tuesday night against the Nationals) lost Friday against Texas in his first start under the new system, and Josh Outman couldn’t make it through five innings despite being given an early 10-run lead in the team’s win at Texas on Saturday.

Currently, there are three injured starting pitchers – lefty Jorge De La Rosa, who underwent Tommy John elbow surgery last year; righty Jhoulys Chacin, who struggled before a nerve issue in his chest was discovered, and Nicasio. Additionally, right-hander Jeremy Guthrie was the Opening Day starter but he struggled so much in 11 starts (3-6, 7.20 ERA) that he was moved to the bullpen, where he has pitched well in long relief.

In another surprise move, the Rockies apparently have called up star Double-A lefty Edwar Cabrera, who had earned an invitation to the Sirius XM Futures game during All-Star weekend and last year led all of Minor League Baseball with 174 strikeouts. Cabrera is in line to start Wednesday against the Nationals.

Under Apodaca, the Rockies went to the World Series in 2007, had five 10-game winners in 2009 for the first time in club history and set club ERA marks in 2007 (4.32) and 2010 (4.22). The team has struggled on and off trying to find a way to thrive at hitter-friendly Coors Field. Since 2002, the baseballs have been stored in an atmosphere-controlled chamber to keep them from shrinking and becoming slippery in the mile-high atmosphere.

Apodaca previously served as pitching coach with the Mets and the Brewers.

More to come on MLB.com.

Tulowitzki’s leg to be re-evaluated Monday in Philadelphia

DETROIT — Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki will fly to Philadelphia on Monday for further evaluation of an injury in the left groin area that has kept him out of action since May 30, the club announced Friday.

Dr. William Meyers, a surgeon with extensive experience in sports hernia injuries, will look at Tulowitzki’s two previous MRI reports plus conduct his own evaluation. Meyers performed a sports hernia surgery on Rangers star Josh Hamiltion in November 2011. Meyers also has operated on football players Donovan McNabb and Jeremy Shockey, and hockey player Tomas Holmstrom.

It’s not certain if his injury is a sports hernia or which of the many types of sports hernia it may be and, if it is a sports hernia, it’s not a certainty that Tulowitzki will have surgery. Rockies head trainer Keith Dugger said Friday the club is acting on a recommendation to have another opinion on what is causing the pain and discomfort in the left groin area.

Tulowitzki’s current diagnosis is a left groin strain. The injury has bothered him since the first series of the year. Tulowitzki began an injury rehab assignment Wednesday at Triple-A Colorado Springs but left after three innings when he felt pain in the area. Sports hernias are diagnosed almost exclusively in high-level male athletes, and usually occur with athletes who battle chronic groin pain.

The Rockies will play in Philadelphia Tuesday through Thursday. Tulowitzki’s evaluation will occur on the Rockies’ idle day on Monday.

Track the Rockies Day 3 Draft Picks

Today’s blog is being updated by Trey Scott, an associate reporter at MLB.com

Round 16 (No. 498): With their first pick of Day 3 of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, the Rockies selected Jeffrey Popick, a leftfielder from Colorado Mesa. Popick had a .424/.524/.663 slash line his senior year, drove in 65 RBIs and recored 27 extra-base hits.

Round 17 (No. 528): Clemson catcher Jason Stolz, who played multiple infield positions in college and hit .270 with seven homers his senior season.

Round 18 (No. 558): Another catcher, Aaron Jones of Oregon, a draft-eligible sophomore. He hit .303 and drove in 39 runs this past season.

Round 19 (No.  588): Kyle Newton, a 5-11, 185-pound third basman, transferred to Florida Atlantic after having success at South Florida community college. This past season, he hit .311 with 13 doubles, seven home runs and 34 RBIs for FAU.

Round 20 (No. 618): Anthony Seise is a lanky (6-3, 185) left-hander who played at West Orange (Fla.) High School. He has signed with State of Florida College, formerly known as Manatee Community College.

Round 21 (No. 648): Right-hander Ryan Gonzalez was the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference player of the year in 2012, when he led Bethune-Cookman to NCAA Regional play as a senior by going 9-2 with a 2.14 ERA — a big bounce-back after missing the early part of his junior year with a shoulder injury. His father played briefly in the Red Sox’s organization.

Round 22 (No. 678): Jordan Mejia is a 6-2, 185-pound right-hander who helped Riverside (Calif.) Community College to Southern California Super Regional play.

Round 23 (No. 708): As a senior, Univeristy of Akron senior Andrew Brown went 6-8 wtih a 3.19 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 98 innings pitched. Brown owns the school’s innings pitched record.

Round 24 (738): Marshall lefty Mike Mason opened some eyes last summer in the Northwoods League by striking out 11 in 10 1/3 innings for Madison (Wisc.). He went 4-6 with a 4.15 ERA in 14 starts at Marshall this past season.

Round 25 (768): Fresno Pacific Univeristy shortstop Alec Mehrten earned Golden State Athletic Conference honors by hitting .304 and posting a .932 fielding percentage as a senior.

Round 26 (798): Adam Paulencu is a right-handed pitcher who was drafted by the Giants last year in the 13th round. The senior went 8-3 with a 2.86 ERA, and had a 1.3 strikeout-to-walk ratio with Embry-Riddle University in 2012.

Round 27 (828): Matt Flemer was drafted in the 19th round after helping California to an improbable College World Series berth in 2011. This year, the right-handed pitcher held opponents to a .242 batting average and allowed 32 earned runs in 111 2/3 innings (2.58 ERA.

Round 28 (858): The Rockies are loading up on right-handed pitchers as Justin Arrowood becomes the third such prospect taken in a row. Arrowood had a perfect record in 2012, finishing 11-0 with a 3.81 ERA.

Round 29 (888): Patrick Hutcheson is a lefty-hitting second baseman from Fresno State who hit .290 with five homers and 13 stolen bases.

Round 30 (918): Trent Blank, a right-handed pitcher, is a big reason why Baylor is playing in the Super Regionals this weekend. The senior went 10-1 with a 2.32 ERA and held opponents to a .240 batting average.

Round 31 (948): The Rockies have done well with the Long Beach State pipeline (Troy Tulowitzki) and they go to it again, picking right-handed pitcher Shawn Stuart, who was 7-1 with a 2.44 ERA, holding opponents to a .213 batting average.

Round 32 (978): Austin Simcox, a 6’3″ shortstop from Farragut High School in Tennessee. Simcox bats and throws right-handed.

Round 33 (1008): Ryan Garvey, son of Dodgers great Steve Garvey, transferred from Southern Cal to Riverside Community College three months into his freshman year in order to focus more on baseball and be eligible for the draft after just one season. Garvey, who was drafted by the Phillies in the 15th round last year, hit .261 with 22 RBIs.

Round 34 (1038): Chris Cowell, a 6’4″ catcher from the University of Richmond, had a .643 slugging percentage with 20 homers and 58 RBIs.

Round 35 (1068): Justin Solomon, a right-handed second baseman from Piedra Vista High School in New Mexico.

Round 36 (1098): Kevin Bradley, a switch-hitting shortstop from Hopewell Valley in New Jersey.

Round 37 (1128): Casey Burns, a right-handed third baseman from Grand Junction High School. Burns has signed at St Mary’s in California.

Round 38 (1158): Dansby Swanson, a shortstop from Marietta High School in Georgia, is considered a likely candidate to pass up the draft no matter the round — he’s a Vanderbilt signee. According to the scouting report, Swanson has “very little power, but makes consistent, solid contact.”

Round 39 (1188): Justin Dillon, an 18-year old right-handed pitcher from El Dorado High in California. Dillon has signed at Sacramento State.

Round 40 (1218): With their final pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, the Rockies selected Brandon Montalvo, a catcher from Langham Creek High School in Texas. Montalvo has signed with Blinn College.

Track the Rockies Day 2 Draft Picks

Today’s blog is being updated by Trey Scott, an associate reporter at MLB.com

Second round: The Rockies began their second day of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft with the selection of Max White (No. 73 overall), a 6’2”, 180-lb. centerfielder from Williston High School of Williston, Florida.

White is the second outfielder the Rockies have chosen in the draft.

The 19-year-old White, a University of Florida signee, hit .407 his senior season, with five homers and 24 RBIs. White also had a .968 fielding percentage in 29 games, 24 of which he started in the outfield.

Third round: For the second year in a row, the Rockies chose a catcher in the third round, taking Tom Murphy (No. 105 overall) of the University of Buffalo.

The right-handed Murphy boasts a lot of power. As a junior in 2012, he cranked 13 home runs and brought in 51 runs for a slash line of .311/.396/.616. Murphy, the 2011 MAC Player of the Year, has one season of eligibility left, but it’s likely he ends up a Rockie.

Compensation B Pick: That aforementioned catcher who was drafted last year in the third? Because the Rockies couldn’t sign that pick — Peter O’Brien — they picked up a compensation pick (No. 128). And with it, they took a local kid: Ryan Warner, a right-handed pitcher from Pine Creek High School Colorado Springs.

Colorado’s Gatorade Player of the Year, Warner, a North Carolina State signee, went 7-1 with a strikeout-per-inning ratio of 1.74. The 6’7″ Warner tossed a no-hitter and a one-hitter in his final year at Pine Creek.

Fourth round: The pick of Seth Willoughby at No. 138 makes it two consecutive right-handed pitchers for the Rockies. A reliever at Xavier, Willoughby appeared in 25 games, posting a fantastic 1.01 ERA in 35 2/3 innings pitched. The junior notched 12 saves and finished with a 3.6 strikeout-t0-walk ratio.

Willoughby is Xavier’s all-time saves leader with 28. He’d have one more year of eligibility if he chooses not to sign with the Rockies, which is unlikely.

Fifth round: Despite Troy Tulowitzki’s presence in the Majors and Trevor Story — a first-rounder last year — doing well in the minors, the Rockies used the No. 168 overall pick on a shortstop, Matthew Wessinger. The Royals drafted Wessinger in the 37th round last year, but he chose to return for his senior season at St. John’s in New York, where he drastically improved his draft stock by hitting .353 with six homers and 47 RBIs.

Wessinger had a team-high 22 errors, so a switch to a less-demanding position like second base is a possibility.

Sixth round:  The Rockies take another player from St. John’s, this time Matt Carasiti, a right-handed pitcher. Carasiti started in 14 of his 18 appearances, compiling a 7-5 record and a 3.98 ERA. He struck out 64 in 83 2/3 innings pitched, and walked 31. Carasiti did not give up a home run.

According to the Baseball America scouting report, Carasiti’s low-90s fastball “won’t blow anyone away but plays up because of good command.” Unlike his teammate Wessinger, Carasiti — chosen with the No. 198 pick — has some leverage with the Rockies, as he still has a year of collegiate eligibility remaining.

Seventh round: The Rockies go catcher again with Puerto Rico Baseball Academy’s Wilfredo Rodriguez at No. 228. The 5’10” Rodriguez hits from the right side of the plate and is viewed as a project player by most scouting reports.

Eighth round: Derek Jones, a lefty-hitting outfielder from Washington State, is the pick here at No. 258. As a senior, Jones had an impressive slash line — .335/.438/.574 — with nine homers and 45 RBIs. He was named to the 2012 All-Pac-12 Conference Baseball Team.

Ninth round: At No. 288, the Rockies nabbed Zach Jemiola, a right-handed pitcher from Great Oak High School in California. In 23 1/3 innings pitched in 2012, Jemiola held opponents to a .173 batting average but also had an ERA of 5.40. He struck out 24 and walked 25. Jemiola had pledged to attend UC Riverside.

Tenth round: The Rockies select their first first baseman of the draft and like Todd Helton, Ben Waldrip (No. 398) is a lefty. A junior at Jacksonville State, Waldrip hit .344 with 46 RBIs and a team-best 10 home runs.

Eleventh round: Right-handed pitcher TJ Oakes from Minnesota is the pick here (No. 348). Oakes had a 7-3 record for the Golden Gophers, twice going the distance. His 2.31 was the best on the team among starters and he boasted a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 5.2

Oakes has one year of eligibility remaining. His father, Todd, is the pitching coach at Minnesota, so it’ll be interesting to see if that factors into the decision-making process.

Twelfth Round: Colorado takes its second first baseman in three rounds. Correlle Prime, a 6’5″ right-handed prospect from Manatee High School in Florida carried the team as a pitcher this spring — tossing two shutouts in one week — but it’s his bat the Rockies are most interested in. As a junior (his senior stats are thus far unavailable), Prime hit .398 with 30 RBIs.

Prime — selected with the No. 378 pick — is a State College of Florida signee.

Thirteenth Round: Left-handed centerfielder Kyle Von Tungeln out of Texas Christian (No. 408) makes it four outfielders drafted by the Rockies. TCU is still playing, recently advancing to the Super Regionals, but Von Tungeln’s stats right now include a .301/.442/.521 slash line, two homers and 24 RBIs. He has only grounded into one double play all season and has drawn as many walks as he has strikeouts (42). Von Tungeln is a junior.

Fourteenth Round: The Rockies again tap into the state of Texas, this time taking Shane Broyles (No. 438) out of Texas Tech. Broyles, a 6’1″ right-handed pitcher, came on in relief in 18 of his 23 appearances, recording a 2-2 record to go with a 4.42 ERA — in 57 innings pitched, he allowed 28 runs. Broyles was better as a sophomore at Seminole State J.C., where he finished with a 2.81 ERA and a 7-1 record.

Fifteenth Round: With their last pick of the second day (No. 468), the Rockies have drafted Scott Oberg, a right-handed pitcher from the University of Connecticut. All 22 of Oberg’s appearances were in relief last season. His .99 ERA jumps out, as does the .154 average he held opposing batters to.

Oberg had nine saves, as well as a 5-0 record. He struck out about one batter an inning and allowed just two extra-base hits (both doubles). Oberg is a junior.

O’Dowd says Rockies interested in Francis

The Rockies are pursuing left-handed pitcher Jeff Francis, their ace during their National League championship season of 2007.

“We are interested; I have no idea of the outcome of that interest,” Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd said Monday morning.

Francis, 31, was pitching for the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate in Louisville, and was 3-6 with a 3.72 ERA in 77 1/3 innings over 12 starts. Francis, who struck out 65 against 18 walks, had a June 1 opt-out clause in his Minor League contract. After throwing a complete-game shutout on Sunday, 7-0 over Durham, Francis asked for his release, according to a Twitter dispatch by ESPN.com reporter Jerry Crasnick.

The Rockies made Francis their No. 1 Draft choice out of the University of British Columbia in 2002, and he went 55-50 with them in six Major League season. The highlight was 2007,when he went 17-9 with a 4.22 ERA. However his career was derailed by shoulder issues, which cost him the entire 2009 season and limited him to 4-6 with a 5.00 ERA in 20 games, all but one of them starts, in 2010.

The Rockies did not pick up the option on Francis’ contract, and he went 6-16 with a 4.82 ERA in 31 starts for the Royals last season.

Francis has maintained a home in the Denver area.

Injuries are affecting the Rockies’ rotation. Righty Jhoulys Chacin has not pitched since May 1 because of an injury to a chest muscle, and didn’t do any throwing until Saturday. Righty Juan Nicasio suffered a strained right knee on Saturday and is on the 15-day disabled list. Also, the club released lefty Jamie Moyer last week.<p/>

 

The Rockies are stretching out left-hander Josh Outman, who began the year mostly in a specialist relief role, for one spot. They called up right-hander Guillermo Moscoso from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Sunday for another slot.

De La Rosa has biceps tightness during rehab start

Rockies left-handed pitcher Jorge De La Rosa was scheduled to fly to Denver on Saturday to have his left biceps check after tightness in the area flared during an injury rehab start in Salt Lake City on Friday night.

Head athletic trainer Keith Dugger said he was not alarmed by the latest issue with De La Rosa, who is returning from Tommy John surgery on his left elbow. Last month, the Rockies halted De La Rosa’s rehab assignment because of forearm tightness, something that often flares during a return from elbow surgery.

De La Rosa gave up four runs and five hits in 3 1/3 innings of Triple-A Colorado Springs’ 6-5 loss to Salt Lake. De La Rosa struck out three, walked one and totaled 62 pitches, 36 strikes.

“I don’t know [the extent of the problem] because I haven’t seen him yet, but it’s just tightness,” Dugger said. “It’s probably inflamed somewhere right around the elbow. We’ll see how it is.”

Through two starts of his current rehab assignment, De La Rosa has a 9.45 ERA. More to come on www.coloradorockies.com .

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