Based solely on his starts against the Sky Sox, A.J. Schugel is looking like an in-state prospect the Rockies let slip away.
The Mountain Vista graduate threw his third quality start against Colorado Springs this season, tossing six shutout innings in his first professional start in his home state in what turned into a 3-2 victory for Salt Lake when a late Sky Sox rally fell just short.
"I've had three good starts against them," said the right-hander, who has given up just three runs in 18 1/3 innings against the Sky Sox. "They've got a lot of lefties and I like throwing against lefties. I guess that's just the way it works out. Maybe it's being in Colorado, I don't know."
It would certainly be excusable if the Rockies didn't foresee Schugel's potential as a pitcher, as few did. He was originally drafted by the Padres as a third baseman and, when he didn't sign, played primarily in the infield at Central Arizona JC. He didn't decide to become a pitcher until he turned pro in 2010.
"Baseball America" rates Schugel as the Angels' No. 12 prospect and projects a future in the back of a big-league rotation. He showed that ability in again shutting down the top offense in the Pacific Coast League.
"He just pitches well against us," Sky Sox manager Glenallen Hill said. "I think he established the inside part of the plate and has pretty good secondary pitches."
The Sky Sox managed just four hits and two walks in Schugel's six innings and struck out six times.
The Bees scored once in the third and twice in the seventh to build a lead that only barely held up.
The Sky Sox scored in the seventh on a Ben Paulsen RBI single and scored another run on three consecutive singles with two outs in the ninth before the rally died on a Matt McBride fielder's choice with two runners on base.
The Sky Sox were paced offensively by Corey Dickerson, who went 2-for-2 and drew three walks. It was Dickerson's first time in the No. 3 spot in the order. Hill put Charlie Blackmon in the leadoff spot in attempt to jump-start the recently demoted center fielder.
"He's just got to get going," Hill said of Blackmon. "He's in a little bit of a rut, so we wanted to put him in position to see a few more fastballs."
The Sky Sox (35-29) conclude a four-game homestand on Thursday night against Salt Lake.