The pitching staff is led by top prospect Chaz Roe, who is a top-ten prospect in the organization. Roe won seven games for Asheville in 2006, striking out 80 batters in his 19 starts. Joining Roe in the rotation is 20th ranked prospect Brandon Hynick, who struck out better than a batter per inning last season. Fellow Brandon, Brandon Durden, won ten games last season, and struck out 119 batters.
The rest of the rotation will consist of Xavier Cedeno and Alan Johnson, two pitchers who can eat innings. Cedeno had a 4.04 earned run average for Asheville in 2006, winning eight games, and had nearly 100 strikeouts. Johnson won an incredible 13 games last season, and made an impressive 27 starts.
The bullpen should be equally as talented, featuring top-30 prospects Pedro Strop, and Andrew Johnston. Johnston appears slated to be the team's closer, after picking up 25 saves in 2006. Johnston also posted a 2.84 earned run average, striking out 23. Strop had a 2.08 ERA for Casper last season, and could also see some time as the team's closer in 2007.
David Patton is a guy who should see plenty of time in the bullpen in 2007, after posting an ERA under 2.00 in 2006. Brett Strickland had a 3.44 earned run average, and Darric Merrell appeared in 40-plus games last year. Jon George rounds out the bullpen, and he posted a 2.84 ERA after coming over from the Cincinnati Reds organization in 2006.
The team's starting catcher will likely be Neil Wilson, who batted .290 for Modesto in 2006. In 62 games behind the dish, Wilson drove in 30 runs. Backing up Wilson will be Kyle Blumenthal, who batted a respectable .272 for Asheville last season. Blumenthal also showed some good pop in his bat, stroking eight home runs.
The corner infield for Modesto should also be very solid, featuring first baseman Jeff Kindel, who batted .287 with 30 runs batted in for Tri-City in 2006. Jose Valdez and Phillip Cuadrado should split time at the third base slot, and both are very good hitters. Valdez hit 11 home runs for Modesto in 2006, and Cuadrado is a beast, who hits for power and average. Cuadrado hit 15 home runs last season in Asheville, and drove in 89 runs.
The middle infield may be the best the Rockies have to offer in their farm system, featuring a good blend of speed and average. Eric Young Jr. will be the team's second baseman, after swiping 87 bases in 2006. Young also stroked 142 on the season, using his speed to be the ultimate table-setter. Top prospect Chris Nelson will be the team's shortstop, and is one of the better athletes in the farm system. Nelson batted .260 last season, swiping 14 bags while smacking 11 home runs. Jason Van Kooten will be used in a utility role, after batting .283 with 20 stolen bases last season.
The outfield is loaded with talent, and features the fourth rated player in the organization. That man is Dexter Fowler, who will be the team's centerfielder. Fowler batted .296 in 2006, stole 43 bases, and hit eight home runs. Cole Garner is another good outfield prospect, who batted over .300 in 2006. He hit 19 home runs, and will be the team's left fielder in 2007.
The right field spot could be split between two prospects, Daniel Carte and Travis Becktel. Carte hit .258 last season, swiping 11 bags, while hitting 14 home runs. Becktel batted at a nice .272 clip, and swiped over 20 bags. Lino Garcia rounds out the outfield, and he did not play in 2006.
2007 Modesto Nuts Opening Day Roster:
Starting Pitchers: Chaz Roe, Brandon Hynick, Brandon Durden, Xavier Cedeno, Alan Johnson
Bullpen: Andrew Johnston (Closer), Pedro Strop, Darric Merrell, Jon George, David Patton, Brett Strickland
Catchers: Neil Wilson, Kyle Blumenthal
Infielders: Jeff Kindel, Phillip Cuadrado, Chris Nelson, Jason Van Kooten, Eric Young
Outfielders: Dexter Fowler, Travis Becktel, Daniel Carte, Lino Garcia, Cole Garner