Scottsdale, Ariz. -- It's over, at least for now, for Sam Moll. The Colorado Rockies' left-handed relief prospect was just sent back down to minor league camp on Friday evening. But while his time as a non-roster invitee in big league camp was eye opening—and his stay lasted longer than that of Jeff Hoffman, Kyle Freeland, and a few other notable prospects in the organization—the University of Memphis product is all business.
"I don’t look at it as a priority or ranking on where we’re at, it’s just baseball at the end of the day," Moll told Purple Row of his non-roster invite compared to other top prospects in the club's system, just hours before officially being reassigned out of the Rockies' clubhouse and back to the minor league side.
"We’re all at the talent level where we’re going to be there in the big leagues one day," he added. "It’s just a matter of time, and development, and to keep getting our work in. But I don’t look at it as far as rankings or anything. I’m just grateful for being here."
But still, the fact that Moll was one of the last prospects standing in the big league clubhouse this week—he outlasted cuts longer than Hoffman, Freeland, Ryan McMahon, Matt Carasiti, and other notable prospects—is hard to ignore. Doubly still is it hard to ignore with a pitcher who has moved as fast through the organization as Moll, jumping from short-season ball in 2013 and 2014 to dominating Double-A by the end of 2015.
But the southerner once again downplayed his standing in the organization, preferring to take off some of the pressure and focus from his young career.
"I wouldn’t say I’ve risen too quickly, I’m 24 years old, so I’m not super young," Moll said, chuckling. "But going through college and developing in the minors has definitely prepared me more for where I’m at. I’m happy now. I was hurt in 2014 for basically the whole season, and that was unfortunate, but I’m happy to be healthy now."
Health is such an obvious component to any professional baseball career, and yet it can never be overstated. A constant focus of players and front office executives, even something as simple as starting a season healthy—as Moll did in 2015 and is on track to do again this year—can set the tone for the entire summer, which soon becomes a whirlwind out of control unless a player can manage his body appropriately.
"If I can be out in the field and healthy, I think I can be pretty successful," Moll mused of his injury history. "That’s something that’s in my past, and hopefully it stays in my past, the injuries. That’s the goal and if it continues through the end of the year, then I’ll be happy with that."
If it continues through the end of the year with the path Moll has created for himself, to be frank, it's going to end at Coors Field. Entering 2015 having never pitched above the short-season Northwest League, Moll racked up 74 strikeouts in 68 innings of relief split between High-A Modesto and Double-A New Britain, walking just 16 hitters and holding opponents to 47 hits and an almost inconceivable .193 opponents' batting average.
Health alone didn't put up those numbers.
"We’ve made some mechanical changes as far as rhythm, just slowing it down," Moll explained. "If you go back and watch video of me in college, I was very sporadic, very quick. I’m still explosive, it was just time to slow down. Then from that, I picked up a lot better fastball command. You have to command your fastball at these levels, or it’s going to be a tough road for you."
Double-A wasn't a tough road at all for the lefty last summer, so an option back to minor league camp likely brings with it an Opening Day roster spot with Triple-A Albuquerque. Then, for the 24-year-old—especially seeing how fast the Rockies promoted other relief pitchers like Scott Oberg in 2015—an assignment relatively soon at 20th and Blake probably isn't too far out of the realm of possibilities.
But while situational lefties can rise through a minor league system extremely quickly depending on their handedness splits, don't expect Moll to buy into the Major League hype just yet.
"Wherever you are, Low-A, short season, or the big leagues, you’ve got to go out there and perform, so that’s what I look at," Moll admitted. "I can’t control the outcome of what’s going to happen here."