At the Colorado Rockies' annual fan festival on Saturday afternoon at Coors Field, general manager Jeff Bridich indicated that the organization's unique situation with its Double-A affiliate in Hartford likely won't impact plans for top prospects at the start of 2016.
The Yard Goats, of course, are planning on spending at least the first 52 games of their season on the road this summer, due to stadium construction delays.
Speaking at Rockies Fest, Bridich was firm in his belief that the two-month road trip wouldn't change the Rockies' plans to send players to their Eastern League affiliate—even going so far as to liken the Yard Goats' situation to one faced by the Southern League's Biloxi Shuckers last summer when their stadium wasn't ready in time for the season to begin.
"Whatever it is, 50 [games] or whatever the number is, [the Biloxi Shuckers] did it last year and they survived," Bridich said. "They won the whole darn thing, so you can sit here and complain about it but where does that get you? We will deal with it and make the absolute best of it like Biloxi did, and we will learn from them."
Bridich seemed to approach the Yard Goats' situation as a potential learning experience for the minor leaguers Colorado will assign to the Double-A affiliate.
"I’m sure if you talked to the Biloxi players, without putting words in their mouth, they found out a lot about themselves in that situation last year," Bridich said. "And we have an opportunity for our kids and our guys who have been involved in the situation to find out about themselves."
Of course, the Yard Goats could be very good in 2016; this is more or less the same core group of players who won the South Atlantic League Championship in 2014 with the Asheville Tourists, and then took their season down to the final game last summer with the Modesto Nuts before being eliminated.
With players like Ryan McMahon, Antonio Senzatela, Alex Balog, Kyle Freeland, Matt Carasiti, and more who might see time at Hartford, there's no shortage of important organizational talent likely about to head out on a very long road trip.
"[The Shuckers] obviously handled it really well in a lot of different areas," Bridich continued. "We’ll take lessons from them and make the absolute most of it, and long term, we hope to be there in a new stadium and moving forward with [Hartford]."
"Everything that we understand about them and worked with them it’s a quality organization," he continued. "It’s a moment in time, it affects one part of a long season."
The Yard Goats will open play—on the road—on April 7. They may not be back to Hartford until May 31, at the earliest.