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Rockies prospect Ryan McMahon’s rebound year Double-A Hartford due to mechanics adjustments

Weekly updates, quotes, news, and notes from the Hartford Yard Goats, the Double-A Eastern League affiliate of the Colorado Rockies from May 1 to May 8

The Hartford Yard Goats (11-17) have seen better days. The Rockies Double-A affiliate were finally able to end what became a seven game losing streak last week and have now won three games in a row. Unfortunately, they are still hanging out in the Eastern League basement, two games better than the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (10-20).

The team continues to climb up the offensive and pitching leaderboards, which isn’t to say they are suddenly at the top. But an offensive outburst last week—32 runs in seven games, including 11 runs in a loss—has helped bring their offense up to respectability. The pitching still hangs out in the middle of the pack in ERA (4.20) and WHIP (1.30), but also in strikeouts (202) and walks (94) in 251 innings.

News and Notes, May 2 - May 15

Date Opponent Result Date Opponent Time (MT)
Date Opponent Result Date Opponent Time (MT)
May 2 v Portland L 11-12 May 9 v New Hampshire 5:05 PM
May 3 v Portland L 1-5 May 10 v New Hampshire 8:35 AM
May 4 @ Harrisburg L 2-6 May 11 v Erie 5:05 PM
May 5 @ Harrisburg L 1-2 May 12 v Erie 5:05 PM
May 6 @ Harrisburg W 6-5 May 13 v Erie 4:05 PM
May 7 @ Harrisburg W 6-1 May 14 v Erie 11:35 PM
May 8 v New Hampshire W 5-0 May 15 @ Portland 4:00 PM

Double-A continues to pose problems for Ryan Castellani (no. 9 PuRP). After another tough outing on Saturday (5 IP, 10 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 K), last year’s California League All-Star now sits at 1-3 with a 6.39 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, and a 31:12 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 31 innings. He is generating strikeouts at a career high rate, but his .289 average against is posing problems. But, as we noted last week, he hasn’t had the best of luck so far. Double-A is infamously difficult jump to make, so it isn’t quite time to panic for Ryan, but it is worth noting, now that we’re a month into the season.

There was a bit of a scare for Showtime this week. Yency Almonte (no. 12 PuRP) was off to a great start against Portland on Wednesday (223 scoreless) when he was removed unexpectedly. Word later came down that it was right shoulder inflammation, but, never fear Yency fans: the injury isn’t so serious that Almonte is expected to miss much time, if any, on the season.

Dom Nuñez (no. 14 PuRP) has made it known in the past that he tends to focus on catching first and his bat second whenever he moves up to a new league. That seems to be apparent, seeing as he is currently hitting .180 in 61 at bats. He does have three home runs (including a grand slam this week) and his 11 walks match his hit total, so he’s still getting on base a decent amount (.306).

Sam Howard (no. 20 PuRP) seems to be getting fully stretched out. He went 7 innings on Cinco de Mayo, allowing just two runs on five hits with no walks and seven strikeouts. Even more encouraging is he threw 93 pitches. The Albuquerque rotation is currently pretty packed, and looks to be even moreso whenever Jon Gray returns to the Rockies rotation, so Howard may be carving up Eastern League hitters for the foreseeable future.

Parker French (no. 26 PuRP) rebounded well from his previous start. He put forth a “quality start” by allowing just two runs on four hits with one walk and four strikeouts in six innings of work.

Nobody has thrown more innings for the Yard Goats than Jack Wynkoop (HM PuRP). He made two starts this week, one just as good as the other was bad. Last Tuesday against Portland he gave up 10 runs on 13 hits in 313 innings. Five days later, he threw seven shutout innings with no walks, three hits, and four strikeouts. Go figure.

James Farris seems to be the reliever of choice in the Yard Goats bullpen. He earned yet another save and now has a sterling 12:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 11 innings this season. In his last ten games Max White has gone 5-for-30 with no home runs and nine strikeouts. After an exceptionally hot start to the season he’s now hitting a still good .273/.363./.489 on the season.

Spotlight On: Ryan McMahon’s honors

When you’re carrying essentially an entire offense on your back, you tend to get recognized eventually.

The first and more significant recognition Ryan McMahon (no. 7 PuRP) received was from the Eastern League. Mac was named Player of the Month for April after putting up some truly impressive numbers, even in his second go around at Double-A. This comes after his Player of the Week honors for April 17-23. From the press release:

McMahon batted .375 (30-for-80) with eight doubles, two triples, four home runs, 20 RBIs, 12 runs scored, a .422 on-base percentage, and a .675 slugging percentage in 20 games during the month. The 22-year old had at least one hit in 17 of the 20 games he played in during the month of April and had multiple hits in seven of those games.

One might be inclined to ask what has been behind the turnaround for McMahon this season. On Friday at FanGraphs, David Laurila provided (at least part of) the answer. It’s worth reading in it’s entirety but the short version is that McMahon described to Laurila how making adjustments to his swing mechanics—namely, his hand path—has helped him make the necessary adjustments. The adjustment wasn’t in response to the “fly ball revolution” (“As far as the analytical side of it, I don’t learn well that way”) but in any case, he feels like he’s improved even since spring training. If he keeps showing this level of improvement, he may force the Rockies to find a space for him in Triple-A Albuquerque before the end of the season.

Looking Ahead

The Yard Goats will finish up their homestand against the last place Fisher Cats before hosting the Erie Sea Wolves (Detroit Tigers affiliate) for a four game set in Hartford.

For more Yard Goats news, links, coverage and Twitter, check out the links below. The Bleating Hartford blog is looking for a new hosting site, so stay tuned to that for the time being.

If you have any questions or requests of what you'd like to see in this column, drop me a line in the comments, on Twitter (@playerTBNL), or via email (