Saturday, September 3, 2011

Colorado Rockies give Alex White his first win

None of Alex White's three starts with the Colorado Rockies have been very pretty, or impressive.

However, the right-hander that came over in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade hasn't been horrible either. The numbers wouldn't suggest that he is doing well, but dig a little deeper and look at his actually pitches. The conclusion for anyone who has done that is simple, he is extremely talented.

On Saturday night it was more of the same for White. He gave up another lead off home run and essentially struggled to locate his pitches all night long. The sinkerball pitcher only got three outs on ground balls. That, to say the least, is very uninspiring.

However, dig deeper. Once White eliminates the walks--he had three in five innings--he will be in a better position to go deeper into games, and get more ground ball outs. Obviously, that is easier said than done, but everything about White's minor league performances, and scouting reports say that he is a strike-thrower. Generally, someone doesn't just lose that ability in the big leagues.

At just 23 years old, there is time to mature. Success isn't going to come overnight. The month-plus of big league experience that he is receiving should go a long way to his long term success with the Rockies.

What makes White so impressive, even with unimpressive numbers, is his ability to mix speeds so well. That doesn't mean that he has a good fastball and a good change up. It means that no one knows which pitch is which. He will throw his fastball anywhere between 85 and 93 and his changeup between 80 and 86. Who knows which pitch it is when it falls in the middle.

The confidence to throw the changeup is certainly a sign that White has a good chance to realize his potential at the big league level.

As for the offense, Dexter Fowler continues to show that he is a big league caliber player. He went 3-for-5 with two doubles and two runs scored. He probably would have scored a third run had he not run himself off of the bases after his leadoff double in the fifth inning, when he strayed too far off of the bag on a ball in the dirt and got caught.

His baserunning skills, as evidenced Saturday, are still lacking. His talents are extremely raw. He may never learn to bunt and steal bases the way everyone expected, but he plays great defense and is turning the corner offensively.

Many like to blame Fowler for his skills still being raw. However, the blame for that goes onto management, who has admitted several times that they probably shouldn't have rushed the switch-hitter to the big leagues in 2009 when he hadn't played a day at the Triple-A level.

A player of Fowler's talents needs time in the minors to refine the small-ball type of skills. He needed to learn how to read pitchers moves, how to bunt down the base lines, and how to foul off pitches that he can't drive. However, he was needed at the big league level and instead of starting 09 at the Triple-A level, he was forced to learn on the job, and never adequately learned how to run the bases, bunt and do many of the other things that define what his game should be.

The Rockies look to sweep the Padres on Sunday. A win would be their third Sunday victory in a row. However, with Aaron Cook on the mound, nothing is a guarantee.

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