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2011 Rockies Player Reviews: The Backup Outfielders

Continuing along with the more forgotten players on the 2011 year (as if the season wasn't forgettable enough in general), today we'll be talking about three roster backups who spent some time on the team. Two of today's subjects made their MLB debuts with the Rockies, and the third is long gone, one of several early roster cuts as the team attempted to compensate for their sudden May collapse.


Utilityman Alfredo Amezaga kicks things off, signed to a minor league contract during the offseason. His second brief stint with our team began on April 29th, replacing the struggling Ian Stewart who had been optioned down to the Sky Sox days earlier. Because of the infield turmoil at both second and third base, Amezaga's role with the Rockies was actually primarily as an infielder. Though he did log 2 and 2/3 innings over two games in right field, most of his time was spent at second base in the stead of Jose Lopez, who was generally either benched or splitting time with Ty Wigginton at third during this period. *cringe*

Amezaga made it into 20 games for the Rockies, gathering 38 total plate appearances. During the short period he demonstrated mediocre offense with almost no hitting power beyond the single. One of his eight hits was a double, his only extra base hit in his minimal time. Defensively, he was reasonably effective at second base. Exactly one month after being promoted, Amezaga was cut from the roster during the same swoop as Lopez and Felipe Paulino, signaling the beginning of a new guard of promotions. Amezaga was later traded to the Marlins for longtime MiLB utility player Jesus Merchan. Amezaga would see another 20 games in the majors with Florida. Merchan is now a free agent.

Cole Garner was added to the roster after the 2010 season to prevent him from leaving via MiLB free agency. Never a big enough prospect to justify a Rule 5 protection, Garner's depth was valued enough to keep around headed into 2011. Calling Garner's stint at the MLB level during the season a cup of coffee may be an understatement itself. In 10 MLB at bats over July 4-15 (a period which saw him demoted, only to be recalled immediately after arriving back with the Sky Sox), Garner struck out six times while gathering two singles, a walk, and batting in three runs. He split just over 16 innings in the field between LF and RF, doing nothing of note during the short period. Garner had an injury plagued season, and was unable to return to the team for a September callup.

Charlie Blackmon is the real player of interest here. The left handed prospect found himself with a lot of playing time after his June callup. His contact skills were clearly visible, as Blackmon rarely walked or struck out during his 102 plate appearances. He also showed decent speed on the bases. Blackmon's biggest weakness was, once again, a lack of visible power. While the outfielder is not regarded as a true power hitter,he has demonstrated an average to above average slugging percentage through his MiLB career. With only two extra base hits at the MLB level during this stint, Blackmon's premiere audition for a future role showed strong potential for successful MLB-level translation in all offensive areas but this. He saw about equal time in LF and RF, with 16 innings in center, though it seems those wonky defensive metrics weren't his biggest fans. With that negative element coupled with his inability to put up significant offensive numbers over a moderate sample, he was unable to overcome what appeared to be a rather poor overall contribution. Blackmon's chance to stick with the Rockies was cut short upon a season-ending broken foot.

For certain to be controversial grades and 2012 notes, peek after the jump.


Both Blackmon and Garner could contend for a fourth/fifth outfielder role for the 2012 team, particularly if the team fails to tender a contract to Ryan Spilborghs on Monday. Blackmon, a left handed player, doesn't profile as a true platoon option with the similarly sinistral Seth Smith, but barring an outfield acquisition, Blackmon would be the most likely organizational candidate to take over for an absence at any of the outfield positions. Garner, though right-handed, is not seen at this point as anything more than backup material only, also making a platoon situation unlikely. Both players also now have further outfield competition in the recent acquisitions of Tyler Colvin and Jamie Hoffmann.



- I want to stress that these grades are entirely arbitrary attempts to correlate their performances with their perceived statistical benefit. In other words, I was a cold-hearted witch when coming up with these. But as was shown in the Grading Poll Andrew Martin put up to try and allow a consistency among the reviews, you guys voted in the majority for going as objectively as possible, and so basically I'm just following the crowd here. As a relativist, this is extraordinarily difficult for me (I'm kind of against the grading altogether to be honest, but we came to the decision to keep this at least somewhat standardized), so for the love of all things happy in the world, before you have my head on a platter for such abominable grades, know that I, subjectively, do not agree with these grades either. Because of this lack of comfort, I have also chosen to attach additional unofficial grades at the end of each player which will better reflect my entirely personal appraisal on how I feel about their season, with the initial grade still remaining my official one.

- I really would like to grant Amezaga and Garner incompletes for their limited time here, but we have decided to move on with grading each player as best we can even with the limited data, so incomplete grades are only allowed in my unofficial subjective grades and not the official ones.

Alfredo Amezaga: F - Considered a net negative overall player by both B-R and Fangraphs, Amezaga was simply unable to provide any further production in the face of an already struggling roster. (Personal grade: incomplete)

Cole Garner: D - Definitely an absurdity to take any long-term stock in such a short stint, Garner was not presented with the chance to move beyond a mostly ugly looking offensive debut. (Personal grade: incomplete)

Charlie Blackmon: F - The coldest grade I could imagine. Blackmon's performance doesn't warrant anything below around C- in my personal book, but when it comes to the user voted objective comparison to what one expects from a MLB player, this is about all that could possibly considered fair. Some of his best tools manifested themselves, but from a performance standpoint, his lack of offensive contribution plus apparent defensive struggles limit my options for any sort of other grade without clearly showing some sentimental bias. (Personal Grade: C-)