Jordan Pacheco searches for his MLB identity

US PRESSWIRE

Jordan Pacheco talks to me about finding his 2012 form at the plate, his defensive preference, scouting college prospects, and his experiences in the minor leagues.

DENVER -- Jordan Pacheco finished 6th in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting last season (okay, he received one third place vote) as a 26 year-old after hitting .309 in 505 plate appearances while splitting his time defensively between third base and first base with a little catching thrown in.

"Knowing that you can play at this level (was big)", Pacheco told me last Sunday when asked about last season. "A lot of guys question that...I think the more repetitions you get, the more confidence every guy gets".

This year has unfortunately not been the same story for Pacheco.

Pacheco is struggling mightily in his second full MLB season, that much is agreed upon by everyone I've spoken to, including the Rockies' utility infielder. He's hitting just .230/.269/.299 (AVG/OBP/SLG) this year in 198 plate appearances, providing a disappointing 42 wRC+ (he's been 58% worse than MLB average) and -0.9 fWAR.

Even more unfortunate is that he's been used as a platoon partner for Todd Helton against left-handed pitching, but has batted just .181/.238/.277 against them this year.

"It's a long season", Pacheco said to me when asked about adjustments that need to be made offensively. "Lately a lot of my at-bats have come in the 7th/8th/9th innings, so I think I've just got to figure out my game plan for the later part of the game, then it'll work out". I certainly hope so - in July, he's gone just 1-25, mostly in those situations.

Meanwhile, he's been mostly spelling Helton at first base because Nolan Arenado has been an everyday presence over at third and the Wilin Rosario/Yorvit Torrealba combination have the catching duties covered.

When I asked Jordan about what the Rockies had talked to him about catching this season, Pacheco replied: "Nothing really. I catch the bullpens every once in a while when they tell me to...we've got two really good catchers in Yorvit and Wilin - it's fun to watch and learn from them as a catcher".

Pacheco has been all over the place in his professional career. He was a second baseman in college, then in the minor leagues he was converted to a catcher. When his bat forced Colorado's hand, it was as a third baseman that he made many of his major league appearances - and this year he's been a first baseman primarily.

I asked Jordan about which position he felt most comfortable in. "I don't think any of them now", Pacheco quipped, "Maybe left field" (he's played one big league inning in the outfield), "But seriously, I've played catcher the most in the minor leagues and that's probably the place I feel most comfortable, even though it's probably the hardest position I play".

On the whole though, despite his struggles Pacheco is happy to be in the big leagues.

"Life is good, man, no complaints - so long as we're winning, everybody's happy".

Pacheco played at the University of New Mexico and I'm a CSU graduate, so I gave him a hard time about CSU going farther in the NCAA tournament this year. I also found out that Pacheco had communicated with fellow Lobo and Mariners first round pick this year DJ Peterson.

"I taught him everything he knows", Pacheco joked. "He's a great player - he can really hit. I know the Rockies asked me about him this year".

I asked him the sort of things the Rockies might have been looking for from Jordan Pacheco, scout. "They've already determined that the player's skilled, but what they want to know from me is 'Is he a good person? Can he fit with the team?', those are the sort of questions that (scouts) find more difficult to answer".

Pacheco has been at every stateside stop on the minor league circuit (though Rookie ball Casper is now Grand Junction). I asked him what his favorite stop was along the way.

"I liked Asheville", Pacheco replied. "I'd never been over to that part of the country. It's pretty, it's green, and I think our coach Joe Mikulik (no longer with the organization), he made it really fun".

From a baseball perspective, I and many others have made the argument that Jordan Pacheco should not be on the major league roster. After talking with him for 10 minutes, I can understand why he's still up here. The guy's just a great dude - self-effacing, honest, funny, and welcoming to a blogger on his first foray into a Major League clubhouse. I wish the best for Jordan going forward wherever the baseball winds take him.

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