Pat Valaika has the potential to be a versatile utility player, but he just needs to get healthy and stay healthy. He’s aiming to be ready to go by Opening Day, and as we watch him play well at several positions, I think we’re all hoping he can be a good option for the Rockies. He has a lot of work to do, and Bud Black thinks Valaika isn’t quite ready, but the Rockies need his solid bat off the bench and ability to step up when he’s needed. Having remained healthy in the past, Valaika is not used to the idea of sitting out as injured. He is hoping to get his injury quota out of the way and be ready to go once the season is underway.
Bud Black is certainly keeping an eye on Valaika, but he’s also watching pitchers, not necessarily just numbers, but how they look overall. He’s looking out for mechanics and velocity, trying to make sure the pitching staff is ready to live up to expectations.
Trevor Story is off to a promising spring training at the plate. He is bringing with him a .450 average with five doubles and two triples in 20 at bats. Story may be coming off a disappointing 2017, but he has proved that he can provide power at the plate with his 51 home runs throughout 242 career games. However, that has come at a hefty price of strikeouts. Story led the NL with strikeouts in 2017 and this could be his downfall if he can’t turn it around this year. Story has watched Nolan Arenado, and he has tried to take something away from Arenado’s clutch RBI ability. He’s also aware of Arenado’s hitting ability with runners in scoring position, and he has tried to get in a similar mindset. It didn’t come easily for Arenado, and the numbers show that Arenado has fought hard to get to this point. Story is trying to go along the same path. Story definitely has the potential, so we’ll see if he can step up and get past his sophomore slump.
German Marquez, the youngster, is working on his pitching versatility, and Bud Black is taking notice. He’s got a fastball and a curve that indicate more than his 23 years. He’s working on his changeup, and if he can master that, he could significantly help the Rockies achieve their Postseason goals. He definitely struggled in the game against the Dodgers, giving up eight runs. It seems like he got in his own head, though, playing against such a dominant team. Marquez and Black both agree that he’s looking good, despite his rough day. Black is keeping a sharp eye on his pitchers, and he has faith in Marquez, who’s curveball was devastatingly dominant. The young pitcher is working on becoming more of a powerhorse, hoping to give the Rockies everything they need. His youth got in his way a bit last year, but his potential is boundless. Hopefully we can see some of his impressive stuff this year.
After weeks of rumors, it looks like Carlos Gonzalez is officially coming back to Denver, pending a physical. There is now some speculation that we might expect to see Mark Reynolds coming back as well. The team is starting to look more and more like it did last year, and Reynolds might be the missing piece. Given that they welcomed CarGo back, it seems like they might be willing to bring Reynolds back, too. He provided a lot to the team last year, and despite his age, it is not outside the realm of possibility to think he could do something similar in 2018. Reynolds did well at first base last year, and though spring training is starting to answer our first base questions, Reynolds is definitely someone who could give us a huge boost in the new season.