Jhoulys Chacin: The Bright Future of Colorado Rockies Pitching

Bryce CrawfordContributor IOctober 30, 2008

Those fourth and fifth-rotation spots look lonelier every day, but help is right around the corner! Well, help is a couple years around the corner, but on the way!

Jhoulys Chacin, one of the top prospects in the Rockies' farm system, has won the 2008 Minor League Baseball award for Best Starter.

Beating out top competition from affiliates of the Red Sox, A's, and Giants (who had three pitchers win in the Class-A category), Chacin was formally recognized for his stellar 18-3 season, a Rockies organizational record.

From MLB.com: "He's like a Johan Santana, but from the right side," said Asheville Tourists pitching coach Doug Linton. "He's not afraid to throw that changeup at any time."

The Maracaibo, Venezuela native used that changeup at two levels to lead the minor leagues with 18 wins, losing only three games all year and posting a 2.03 ERA. Opponents managed to hit just .221 against the right-hander, which is no small feat considering he called hitter-friendly Asheville and the California League his home in 2008.

"You walk in and it's 297 down the line, 320 to the gap, it's definitely not a pitcher's ballpark" Linton said. "He took it in stride and he pitched. He challenged hitters, right-handers and left-handers, and that's one thing you have to do in this ballpark."

Eventually, the Rockies locked him down to five-inning maximums during his starts to help protect their investment. Chacin responded by pitching five quality innings to the tune of a 3-1 record and 2.40 ERA in 30 innings.

So keep your heads up Rockies fans, because this home-grown organization is staying the course and developing top-flight talent that is coming soon to a Coors Field near you.


Best Single Game Performer

Also of note was Bruce Billings winning the Class-A Best Single Game Performer award for the no-hitter he pitched for Asheville on July 22. The right-hander struck out eight, walked one, and committed one error.

From MLB.com, Billings gives his take on the day:

"Pitching a no-hitter has been a dream of mine ever since I was a Little Leaguer" he said. "What sticks out most in my mind about that day was the process. I reminded myself over and over during the game, 'If it's meant to be, it's meant to be.'"

Billings was the Rockies 30th pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft.