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Matthes looking for career boost in Arizona Fall League

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Batting averages can sometimes be deceptive. That is especially true in the case of Kent Matthes, who dropped from .334 to .214 as he moved from Class A Advanced Modesto in 2011 to Double-A Tulsa this season.

Matthes, a strong-armed outfielder, was beset with injuries, and he looks at the season as an aberration in terms of average. He hit 17 home runs and drove in 40 runs in 94 games, so he hopes his Arizona Fall League season with the Salt River Rafters will give him a boost.

He was the 2011 California League MVP after that standout year for Modesto that included 23 home runs and 95 RBIs.

"I had a bunch of ups and downs," said Matthes, who was the Rockies' fourth-round pick (121st overall) in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. "But I learned a lot. The batting average really doesn't define my year.

"I think I learned a lot of valuable lessons that are going to help my career and help me in the future. I'm trying to work on that stuff right now."

Rafters manager Matt Williams is playing Matthes predominately in right field.

"He's certainly got a big league arm, a big league right-field arm," Williams said. "He's got good power to his pull side, and he's one of the Rockies' priority players, so he's going to play four days a week to make sure he gets enough reps.

"I think he's a middle-of-the-lineup guy, and you put somebody like Kent in that lineup up there, initially he could be well protected and do really well."

Until he reaches that level, Matthes is taking the approach that staying healthy is his No. 1 priority.

"I battled injuries the past three years, so I'm really trying to work on injury-prevention-type exercises, taking care of my body, work on my nutrition," he said. "I feel like the stuff on the field is going to take care of itself."

Arm strength has been one area of his game that always came naturally. He pitched at times as a youngster, and his father never let him throw offspeed pitches. As a result, he has never had arm trouble.

That arm strength also served him well as a high school quarterback, and his father and uncle, who played football at the University of Miami, had thoughts of him following in their footsteps. He not only concentrated on baseball, he decided to play at Alabama.

"It was nice because it was in the South, and I wanted to play in the SEC, just because I experienced going to watch some games at the SEC Tournament, and I heard about the reputation the SEC had," he said. "I grew up going to Miami games, though, and obviously that's a great place to play, too, and a great program."

While Williams does not know the specifics of the Rockies' master plan for Matthes, he believes the 25-year-old is close to being big league ready.

"He's got all the tools that you need to be a big league player," Williams said.

For players such as Matthes, and even those who might seem a bit under the radar, the Fall League affords a great opportunity.

"They get a chance to play in great facilities like this one [Salt River Field at Talking Stick], and I think this one is unmatched, as far as I'm concerned," Williams said. "They get to show their skills, and on any given day, who knows how many scouts are in the stands?

"So, they get to showcase that in front of all the people that are their own scouts, their own organization or [other] organizations. You never know with today's game where you're eventually going to end up."

Rockies hitters in the Fall League
• Lars Davis is a former Big Ten Player of the Year at Illinois and a one-time volleyball star. Davis, a catcher, was a third-round selection (102nd overall) in the 2007 Draft. The 26-year-old has logged more than 400 Minor League games in six seasons, including the past three years at Tulsa, where he hit .287 with nine home runs and 43 RBIs.

• Corey Dickerson, the Rockies' No. 20 prospect, put together a fairly good year in his first stab at Double-A this season. The outfielder batted .274 in 67 games with 38 RBIs and 13 home runs. He was an eighth-round Draft choice (260th overall) in 2010. The highlight of his Minor League career came in 2011 with Class A Asheville when he drove in 10 runs and hit three home runs in a game, tying the RBI mark in the South Atlantic League.

• Jose Gonzalez has caught for eight years in the Minors since signing with the Rockies as a 17-year-old out of Venezuela. He spent this past season with Tulsa, hitting .230 with a home run and 12 RBIs in 51 games.

Rockies pitchers in the Fall League
• Tyler Chatwood, a right-handed starting pitcher, was a first-round Draft choice of the Angels (ninth overall) in 2009. He appeared in 18 games for the Rockies last season, compiling a 5-5 mark with a 5.49 ERA. He had some control issues, walking 31 (with 37 strikeouts) in 60 2/3 innings. With the Angels, he posted a 6-11 record in 2011 and was traded to the Rockies after the season ended.

• Isaiah Froneberger fashioned a 7-4 record with a 2.48 ERA at Modesto this season, striking out 78 in 76 innings and walking 39. The left-hander was a fourth-round pick (132nd overall) in the 2007 Draft.

• Cory Riordan, a 6-4 200-pound righty, appeared in 13 games for Triple-A Colorado Springs this season, breaking even at 3-3. He had nine starts and picked up one save, compiling an ERA of 4.88. The Rockies tabbed Riordan, now 26, in the sixth round (192nd overall) in 2007.

• Coty Woods was a California League Midseason All-Star in 2011 for Modesto. This past summer, the right-handed reliever split time between Double-A and Triple-A. At Tulsa, he had 16 saves with a 3-2 record and an ERA of 0.76. Moving up to Colorado Springs, he was 1-2, with 11 saves but with an ERA of 7.40 as he allowed 18 runs in 20 2/3 innings.

Colorado Rockies, Tyler Chatwood