In an article for MLB.com earlier this week, veteran Rockies scribe Tracy Ringolsby discussed many of the team's offseason issues with Rockies senior vice president of Major League operations Bill Geivett.
Among the topics Ringolsby and Geivett discussed were the trade rumors surrounding Troy Tulowitzki and the team's plans to replace Todd Helton in the lineup. However, perhaps the most interesting bit of information in the article came out when the two were talking about the team's starting rotation and this little nugget came out.
The Rockies have two pitching prospects who have opened eyes: 2013 No. 1 Draft pick Jonathan Gray and Eddie Butler, a supplemental first-round pick the year before. However, the organization is adamant neither pitcher will open 2014 in the big leagues. But they could arrive by May 1.
According to Ringolsby, either one or both starting pitching prospects Jon Gray and Eddie Butler could be in a Rockies uniform in the second month of the 2014 season, significantly earlier than many expected. A lot of people did not expect to see Gray and Butler with the Rockies until the second half of the 2014 season or the 2015 season.
The news that the Rockies plan to be aggressive with their top two pitching prospects should come as no surprise to fans of a team that did not hesitate to promote Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales into the midst of a pennant race in 2007 and did the same with Jhoulys Chacin, albeit primarily in a relief role, in 2009.
In Gray's case especially, he would certainly not be the first pitcher with his pedigree to see the Major Leagues within a year of being drafted, White Sox lefty Chris Sale made his MLB debut within two months of being selected 13th overall in 2010. Also, Gray is nearly two years older than 2013 NL Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez.
Butler, meanwhile, has not really been challenged in the minor leagues so far, posting a 1.90 ERA in 217 1/3 innings pitched with 198 strikeouts. He also did this to Xander Bogaerts, who started at third base for the Red Sox in the World Series, in the 2013 Futures Game.
If they continue their minor league success, likely in Tulsa, at the start of the 2014 season, both Gray and Butler would be welcome additions to the Rockies rotation as the year continues on.
The Denver Post's Troy Renck reports that former Rockie Eric Young Sr. has emerged as a strong candidate to join Walt Weiss' staff as the team's first base coach in 2014. He held that role in Arizona from 2010-2012.