Driving down to Scottsdale in my car to watch the Rockies spring training and I'm daydreaming about the young prospects I might see when I get there. In my mind I see Trevor Story taking hacks in the batting cages, Josh Rutledge making diving stops on the backfields and watching Sam Mende stealing bases. Instead I arrive at Salt River and see these two old guys trying to come back from injury! What is this? Did the Rockies sign snowbirds when I wasn't looking? Oh and I saw all those other things too.
The coolest thing I saw at Salt River was Casey Blake's game. With his kids and other family in the stands dude hit a double and a HR. Blake didn't seem bothered by a neck injury, and the only sign anything was wrong was the scar on the back of his neck. Here's video of his double and the crowd's reaction.
Walking into the backfields Monday the last thing on my mind was seeing a 49 year-old pitch, but the old man attracts attention and soon I was joined by a throng of players and fans watching Jamie Moyer warm-up. Moyer had a tough first inning when him and his catcher, Wilin Rosario, were not on the same page. Moyer shook off Rosario's pitch selection several times, and twice he even called out which pitch he was going to throw so everyone including the hitter knew what was coming. Moyer kept directing Rosario to setup a certain way on breaking pitches and they had a couple of mound visits to get it straightened out. I came away from the game respecting the knowledge of Moyer and questioning the defensive ability of Rosario.
Sam Mende and Angelys Nina
Finally some young prospects!! Last season I had the chance to see Sam Mende play for Casper alongside Trevor Story and Rosell Herrera and soon afterwards he was promoted to Tri-Cities. I thought it was odd that Mende was starting on the AA team, but one of the coaches told me he was subbing for a sick Josh Rutledge. I wouldn't be surprised to see him start in Modesto this season and leapfrog the younger shortstops Taylor Featherstone and Christhian Adames. Sam had a good game making a slick diving play to his right before throwing the runner out at first base. Later he walked, stole second and scored on a Lars Davis single. I'm definitely going to keep an eye on Sam development this season.
In the same game Angelys Nina had a solid defensive game making a nice turn on a double play and then singling. Angelys (pronounced Ah-n-hell-eese) played alongside PuRPs Josh Rutledge and Nolan Arenado in Modesto's infield last season. Nina has a similar makeup to Jonathon Herrera (don't cringe!) and it appears he's put on muscle weight since I saw him last season.
Rutledge and Story
I love watching Josh Rutledge play shortstop. I've heard reports that his defense is suspect, whoever submits these reports are smoking crack. Every time I've watched this kid he's smooth and makes plays. I didn't get to see much of his game because it was on at the same time as Casey Blake's. As soon as I moved over to his field he made a play deep in the hole to throw out a runner at first base.
Trevor Story is going to be a stud. He has leadership skills that you don't often find in younger players and watching him take batting practice in the cages is a thing of beauty. I just wish the netting wasn't there to stop the trajectory of his batted balls. My wife also tells me he's easy on the eyes, whatever that means she wears glasses.
Feel free to view more of the videos I filmed in Arizona -- Here
Or to browse through more of my pictures from Spring Training you can go -- Here
Or if you want to see something really cool, you can go Here.