The Colorado Rockies are having a season of typical frustration but there is a glow of optimism on the horizon.
The team has added to its excellent minor league talent in hopes of re-writing the future. After Trevor Story’s historic and hot start to his Major League career, every Rockies’ noticeable call-up has given the team further insight as to what the prospects are for the franchise. The Rockies had a maybe a Top 10 farm system before the Troy Tulowitzki deal. Since the trade was done just over a year ago, the Rockies have added a plethora of arms to pair with the team’s offensive talent, pushing them into the Top 5.
Story’s quick emergence placed him in the early Rookie of the Year race and to some in the clubhouse was the leader that award. If the old fences remained at Coors Field, he would have 33 home runs this year, not 27. Yet, Story emerged as a reliable defender to go along with his offensive weaponry, and he began to rise to clutch moments in games.
In a remarkable story, the new Rockies outfielder David Dahl‘s rise into the starting lineup as an everyday outfielder happened rather speedily. A month after an injury to Gerardo Parra, the Rockies called up Dahl to great effect, tying the record for hit-streak to start a career at 17 games.
Both Story and Dahl play the game with hustle and a no-quit attitude, which seems to be infectious for the other players on the team’s roster.
Another terrific young outfielder is making a presence early in his Major League career: Raimel Tapia. Tapia exhibits the same high energy and resiliency as the two rookies who arrived before him. He even presents a unique trait with two-strikes that potentially may give pitchers fits during a plate appearance. Tapia shortens his stance and crouches to shrink his strike zone affecting where a pitcher has to throw. This adjustment has proven yet to be successful in a small sample size. Tapia is batting .200, however, he is putting the ball in play (BABIP) at a .360 clip. His quirky batting average with two strikes will rise with more reps.
Dahl and Tapia will present a difficult offseason choice for the Rockies, who in last winter gave a three-year deal to Parra. Parra has recently seen time at first base, which could be bad news for Mark Reynolds, a free agent after this season. Much like when Corey Dickerson made Michael Cuddyer expendable, both Dahl and Tapia could make a starting outfielder like Charlie Blackmon or Carlos Gonzalez available for a trade. Of course, that is easier said than done.
On the pitching front, Jeff Hoffman, German Marquez and Jon Gray provide an interesting proposition for a starting rotation that once had more holes than swiss cheese. All three pitchers are flamethrowers, which the Rockies have lacked for at least nine years since Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales.
For the Rockies to succeed as a pitching staff, constantly rebuilding the rotation and bullpen is the first order of business. The team must add multiple arms in the bullpen and starting rotation that can hurl 95-98-mph consistently. Gray has proven to be the future ace of the staff, while Marquez and Hoffman have seen the issues in fastball command and a fielding defense doing them no favors. Still, Hoffman and Marquez have exhibited tremendous upside for the team’s starting rotation.
The franchise is finally in the position to elevate promising pitching talent. One thing is for certain, though; there are signs of optimism on all points of the horizon for the Colorado Rockies.