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Monday, April 19, 2010
Rockies' Jimenez among many farm gems

From Jeff Passan's take on the no-hitter:

I'm sure it's not the first time, but it's the first time I've been aware that a starting pitcher shifted from the windup to the stretch when he didn't have to (and more details on that switch are here). Makes you wonder, doesn't it? It's often said that the stretch costs a pitcher 2-3 miles an hour off his fastball, and (considering how easy that is to check) I'll assume that's roughly accurate. But then you see something like this, and you wonder how many control-challenged power pitchers should maybe take things down a notch.

Jimenez's no-hitter got me to wondering what people were saying about him before he made his bones in the majors, and that led me to Baseball America's 2007 Prospect Handbook. Here are the Rockies' top eight prospects three years ago, with key performers since 2007 bolded:

1. Troy Tulowitzki
2. Franklin Morales
3. Jason Hirsh
4. Dexter Fowler
5. Ian Stewart
6. Ubaldo Jimenez
7. Greg Reynolds
8. Chris Iannetta

That's impressive. And Seth Smith was ranked 16th that year. I don't get the impression that the Rockies get a great deal of credit for their player development, but has any club graduated more good players to the majors in the last three or four years?

Anyway, here's what BA said three years ago: "Jimenez figures to return to Triple-A in 2007, and he could move into the big league rotation as soon as midseason. His profile also would fit in the closer's role, which could save some wear and tear on his arm."

Nailed it.

Well, the first part. Jimenez did open 2007 in Triple-A, then -- despite a bloated ERA and far too many walks -- did join the big league rotation shortly after the All-Star break.

Here's what John Sickels wrote, three years ago:

In that last Triple-A stint, Jimenez walked 5.4 per nine innings, more than he'd ever walked before. He seemed to be headed straight for Daniel Cabreraville. But the Rockies presumably saw something the rest of us didn't, or couldn't. They called him up anyway, and since then he's improved his ERA in each season and thrown a no-hitter. Somewhere in Coors Field right now, somebody's smiling.