Welcome to the 2017 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at the in-season contributions of every player to don the purple this past season. The goal wasn’t and isn’t to quibble with order. Instead, it’s to get a snapshot of a player along with a look forward. For that reason, we simply sorted by Baseball-Reference’s Wins Above Replacement (rWAR) and will start at the bottom and end up at the top.
No. 30, Stephen Cardullo (-0.1 rWAR)
The fact that Stephen Cardullo has appeared on two consecutive Ranking the Rockies lists is pretty amazing. He’s a player who was never supposed to make the majors, and he’s a player a lot of fans will forget in three years. The former independent leaguer signed with the Rockies prior to the 2016 season and played well enough in Triple-A to fill in as first base and outfield depth when they needed it. The Rockies liked Cardullo enough to bring him back in 2017, as the team re-signed him to a minor-league contract during the offseason. Cardullo was, once again, called upon to as a depth player in 2017. Unfortunately, his showing this past year didn’t meet even the low bar he set in 2016.
Cardullo found his way on to the Opening Day roster for two reasons. First, injuries to Ian Desmond and David Dahl opened up some space. Not only that, but the Rockies wanted to hold off on calling on younger guys like Raimel Tapia and Mike Tauchman. Second, Cardullo hit well during Spring Training. He slashed .333/.395/.545 in 74 plate appearances. Prior to the season, the Rockies designated relief pitcher Jason Motte for assignment in order to make room for Cardullo on the roster.
Spring Training stats are almost never prologue, and they weren’t for Cardullo in 2017. After a great showing in Arizona, he went hitless in his first 19 plate appearances in April for the Rockies. It didn’t get much better after he finally singled in his 20th try at the plate, as he mustered just three more singles in a handful more games. He wrapped up April with a .143/.250/.143 line.
In fact, Cardullo didn’t even make it until the end of April with the team. They optioned him before the end of the month to make room on the active roster for Germán Márquez. Cardullo spent a little over a week with the Albuquerque Isotopes before he broke his wrist. Rather than wait it out, the Rockies decided to simply release Cardullo on May 19. They re-signed him to a minor-league contract just a few days later though. Once he was healthy enough to play, he rehabbed with recent draftees in Boise. The Rockies eventually opted to elevate him not back to Triple-A, but to Double-A Hartford. Even against less refined competition, Cardullo only hit .195/.318/.344 for the Yard Goats, as his 2017 withered away.
This is probably it for Cardullo. He’s 30 years old and without any one skill to carry him back to the majors. Cardullo has no power to speak of, and his hit tool disappeared against Double-A pitching. His defensive homes in the outfield and first base demand at least a little bit of both.