Some of the biggest news this offseason was the pillaging of the Rockies minor league system by the Texas Rangers. Pitcher Edwar Cabrera and center fielder Rafael Ortega were both snatched up by Texas after being exposed to the waiver wire with the fall roster crunch. Then, in the final stab to the heart, the Rangers selected Russell Wilson in the Rule 5 draft a mere weeks before Super Bowl XLVIII.
The left-handed Cabrera made two forgettable starts for the Rockies in 2012, only to rebound in Triple-A where he posted a 3.41 ERA in six appearances. After falling to a shoulder injury during spring training, he spent all of 2013 on the shelf and underwent surgery in July. In January Cabrera was placed on waivers by the Rangers and after going unclaimed was assigned to their minor leagues.
Center fielder Rafael Ortega initially raised eyebrows with a September 2012 call up directly from High-A Modesto to the major leagues. Ortega was one of the strongest defensive outfielders in the Rockies system and sported a career .298 minor league average. A leg injury suffered in June seemed to affect the Venezuelan who finished with a slash line of .228/.315/.297 in 2013. Texas placed Ortega on waivers in January where he was claimed by the St. Louis Cardinals and added to their 40 man roster.
Russell Wilson was drafted in round No. 4 of the 2010 draft, the same year fellow Rockies Josh Rutledge, Corey Dickerson and Chad Bettis were selected. Wilson spent two years in the Rockies system playing for Tri-City and Asheville where he strung together a career .229 average with 19 steals. Wilson led the Seattle Seahawks to the NFL Championship in New York City this year.
The quarterback recently announced on twitter that he would be making an appearance at the Rangers spring training facility on March 3rd.
Three Rockies play winter ball Down Under
Catcher Ryan Casteel enjoyed a breakout season for High-A Modesto in 2013 and it continued in the South Pacific as he nearly claimed the ABL's Triple Crown. Casteel led the Australian league in average (.343), home runs (11) and finished second in the league with 36 RBI. Plus he looks really cool in Melbourne Aces catching gear.
Shortstop Joey Wong most likely had trouble going through airport security as he received the All-Star game MVP award as well as the League Championship MVP award. The latter award was given thanks to his walk off double in the 14th inning (Video Link) as well as his defensive prowess. Here's a snippet from ABL.com of the defensive wizardry he showcased in the series:
The first example of Wong's heroics came in the top of the seventh inning of Game 1 of the 2014 ABL Championship Series when he made an incredible play in the field. Perth found themselves in a hole, trailing the Canberra Cavalry, driven by Rolfe Renault, 3-2. Canberra had their leadoff man, Jon Berti, on base with no outs and were threatening to expand their lead. With Berti aboard, Ben Warner hit a shot up the middle which appeared to be a base hit. Wong demonstrated his great range, making a diving stop, tagging second base, and throwing the ball from his knees to first in time to complete the double play and prevent Perth from facing even more of a deficit.
Outfielder Tyler Massey didn't perform very well at the plate, but he did make a highlight catch crashing through the wall to rob an Adelaide player of extra bases. Tyler hit .238 in 42 games, with a pair of home runs in the ABL.
Trades add talent to the farm, give some away
Brett Anderson for Drew Pomeranz and Chris Jensen
A trade in December brought in lefty Brett Anderson, a once brilliant and now injury prone pitcher to add depth to the Rockies rotation. In return, the A's received Drew Pomeranz and minor league starter Chris Jensen.
A holdover from the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, Drew Pomeranz pitched well in Triple-A Colorado Springs with a 4.21 ERA and a solid strikeout rate in 2013, but struggled with his velocity and control in the Major Leagues. Jensen was one of the youngest starters for the Modesto Nuts this past season. Part of a rotation that was one of the best in the California League, where he put up a 4.55 ERA in 28 starts for Modesto.
Another trade in December saw Johnny Herrera head east to the Boston Red Sox. In return the Rockies reacquired Franklin Morales and pitcher Chris Martin.
Reliever Chris Martin was an interesting acquisition and one that shouldn't be dismissed even though he's 27-years old. The right-hander was originally drafted by the Rockies in 2005 out of high school. Instead of signing, he chose to attend college where he partially tore his labrum during his sophomore year. Believing his baseball career was over after his arm failed to recover from rehab and surgery, Chris quit baseball and began working odd jobs at Lowe's and for an appliance warehouse.
In a twist straight out of a Disney movie, Martin's arm healed on its own and he began playing again for an independent team ran by former major league outfielder Pete Incaviglia. The Red Sox soon signed Martin when he demonstrated a 96-mph fastball with good control.
Martin had an outstanding 2013, pitching 21 innings of shutout ball in Double-A, before being promoted to Triple-A and sporting a 3.18 ERA and a solid strikeout rate of 8.3 K/9. Look for Martin to likely start the season in Colorado Springs, where he'll push for a spot in the Rockies bullpen at some point. The right-hander is still under team control until the end of 2014 when he becomes eligible for the Rule 5 draft.