2007 Colorado Springs Sky Sox Preview

The Colorado Springs Sky Sox have been a great feeder system to the Colorado Rockies during the past few seasons, and the 2007 roster is full of prospects who are ready to make the jump to the Major Leagues this season. With a nice mix of veterans and first time Triple-A players, the Sky Sox should make some noise in the Pacific Coast League in 2007.

At the top of the rotation on Opening Day is Brian Lawrence, a veteran Major Leaguer who is rehabbing with the Sky Sox. He will likely be back with Colorado before the month is out. Ubaldo Jimenez is a top pitching prospect within the organization, and he is coming off a 14-win season. He split time between Colorado Springs and Tulsa during the 2006 season, striking out 150 batters. Marc Kaiser is an innings eater, who pitched four complete games in 2006. Kaiser won ten of his 25 starts, and picked up a shutout along the way.

Denny Bautista returns to the Colorado Springs rotation after starting six games for them in 2006. Newcomer Eric DuBose had a solid season for Bowie last year, posting a 7-1 record as a starter. He started 11 games, posting a 3.11 earned run average in the Eastern League. Mike Esposito rounds out the rotation, and he made 26 starts for the Sky Sox last season. He needs to work on his command, as he finished the year with a 6.67 earned run average.

The bullpen will be highlighted by Josh Newman, a rubber arm prospect who appeared in 62 games last season. He will likely assume closer duties, after picking up two saves last year, and striking out a batter per inning. Mike Gallo made 33 appearances in the Pacific Coast League in 2006, though his 5.63 earned run average was high. Zachary McClellan returns to Colorado Springs after appearing in 54 games for the Sky Sox last year. McClellan had a 4.18 earned run average, striking out 49.

Matt Herges will be looked upon to take some of the young bullpen members under his wing, after appearing in 66 Major League games in 2006. Herges had success in the Majors last year, posting a respectable 4.31 earned run average. Alberto Arias worked from both the bullpen and the rotation in 2006, though he is likely to come out of the pen for the Sky Sox. Ryan Speier returns to the Sky Sox bullpen in 2007, after appearing in 45 games for the club last year. Bob Keppel rounds out the bullpen, and he is new to the Rockies organization. He worked from the pen and the rotation in 2006.

Behind the plate for the Sky Sox will be Alvin Colina, who batted .254 for the Tulsa Drillers in 2006. Colina showed some good pop at the plate, belting 12 home runs. Backing up Colina will be Edwin Bellorin, who was a Florida State League All-Star in 2005. Last year, Bellorin batted .234 with seven home runs.

The Sky Sox should have one of the better first baseman in the Pacific Coast League in 2007, as they welcome Joe Koshansky to the fold. He hit 31 home runs for Tulsa last season, driving in 109, and was named to the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game. Across from him will be another top prospect, Ian Stewart. Stewart appears ready to take over the third base duties in Colorado very soon, after batting .268 for the Drillers in 2006.

Up the middle will be former National League Rookie of the Year, Clint Barmes, who batted only .220 for the Rockies last year. Jayson Nix will likely assume second base duties, after scoring 39 runs for Colorado Springs last season. Omar Quintanilla split time between the minors and majors last season, and should bring some insurance up the middle. Frank Menechino is a former Major Leaguer as well, who hit below .200 during the 2006 season. Douglas Bernier batted .280 for Tulsa in 2006, scoring 44 times in 87 games.

The Sky Sox should have a very solid outfield, featuring Ryan Spilborghs, who split time between Colorado and Colorado Springs in 2006. Spilborghs hit .287 for Colorado, and batted well over .300 for the Sky Sox. Alexis Gomez just cleared waivers, and will accept his assignment to Colorado Springs. Cory Sullivan returns to the minors, after spending the 2006 season in the big leagues. Sullivan appeared in 126 games with Colorado, picking up 103 hits.

Seth Smith batted .294 for Tulsa in 2006 , twice winning Texas League Player of the Week honors. Sean Barker batted .297 for the Sky Sox last season, hitting 13 home runs, while driving in 55.

2007 Colorado Springs Sky Sox Opening Day Roster:

Starting Pitchers: Brian Lawrence, Mike Esposito, Ubaldo Jimenez, Denny Bautista, Eric DuBose, Marc Keiser

Bullpen: Josh Newman (Closer), Zach McClellan, Alberto Arias, Ryan Speier, Bob Keppel, Mike Gallo, Matt Herges

Catchers: Alvin Colina, Edwin Bellorin

Infielders: Omar Quintanilla, Jayson Nix, Clint Barmes, Joe Koshansky, Ian Stewart, Douglas Bernier, Frank Menechino

Outfielders: Sean Barker, Cory Sullivan, Ryan Spilborghs, Seth Smith, Alexis Gomez

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