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Rockies sign first-round pick Ryan Rolison

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Rockies news and links for June 14, 2018

Rockies sign 1st-rounder Rolison | Rockies.com
On Wednesday, the Colorado Rockies agreed to terms with first-round draft pick Ryan Rolison. Rolison will earn the full slot value of the 22nd overall pick in the draft, which is $2,912,300. Rolison will report to the Rookie level affiliate of the organization, the Grand Junction Rockies, who begin their season on Friday. Rockies’ vice president of scouting Bill Schmidt says that the team has been scouting Rolison since high school, and stuck with him as he went on to pitch collegiately at Ole Miss. Schmidt says that the Rockies will closely monitor Rolison’s innings as the talented 20-year-old left-hander becomes acclimated with the coaching staff.

Rolison was not alone among Rockies draft signees on Wednesday. The team signed 26 total draftees, with six picks from the first ten rounds.

Rockies pitching prospect Peter Lambert showing veteran’s poise on way up organizational ladder | The Athletic ($)
Rockies pitching prospect Peter Lambert (PuRP No. 4) is drawing rave reviews from his coaches and teammates, to say the least. While Lambert isn’t a strikeout artist, he is known for his excellent strike zone command. With only 10 walks in 71 2/3 innings to begin the year with the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats, Lambert, 21, is working to the best ERA/FIP (2.51/3.03) of his four seasons in the minor leagues. Lambert clearly has a lot of confidence in his own abilities, as he says he is “not intimidated by anything or anyone.”

Rockies director of player development Zach Wilson notes that Lambert is “very advanced in all…areas for his age.” Yard Goats pitching coach Mark Brewer also notices the advanced ability at the early age for Lambert, citing Lambert’s “sixth sense.” Brewer was pitching coach for Antonio Senzatela, Kyle Freeland, Sam Howard, and others when they were playing for the Asheville Tourists, and says Lambert’s development is “quicker” than these organizational peers “in terms of everything you need to have to pitch in the big leagues and be successful.”

“They don’t come around too often like him,” says Yard Goats Manager Warren Schaeffer. And then there’s Dom Nunez, his catcher, who believes that “you can tell…which players are going to play in the big leagues, and at his age…you can tell he is.”

“It’s no shock to me that he’s doing what he’s doing here,” says Wilson. “And I expect it to continue.” High praise for Lambert from all around, for sure.

Why is Bryan Shaw struggling so much with the Rockies? Because ‘middle-middle is usually bad-bad.’ | The Athletic ($)
It’s no secret that Rockies reliever Bryan Shaw is struggling. His 7.09 ERA is around 3.5 runs worse than the career-high he produced in 2017 with the Cleveland Indians. The problem seems easy to diagnose, though definitely not as easy to solve. Nick Groke of The Athletic provides FanGraphs heatmaps in his story which show Shaw’s cutter is being thrown right down the middle of the plate -- 7.6% of the time, according to Statcast. Shaw is also only hitting the edges of the strike zone 28.9% of the time, below his career average of 31.2%. Manager Bud Black says the team is working in Shaw’s mechanics, but that Shaw may be overcorrecting, first by missing the zone altogether, and then by throwing the ball down the middle of the plate to try to throw a strike. Purple Row’s Adam Peterson found much of the same.

Some fans have expressed concern over the number of times Shaw has been used, as his 36 appearances are most in the National League. Terry Francona, Shaw’s former manager with the Indians, encouraged Black to use Shaw more, even suggesting using him every day for four days in a row because Shaw is “a freak of nature.”

The Jay Bruce trade that would make a lot of sense | The New York Post
Joel Sherman of The New York Post suggests that the Rockies swing a trade with the New York Mets to acquire outfielder Jay Bruce for Shaw. Bruce’s 2018 numbers are nothing to write home about, as he is producing a .216/.297/.327 slash, with a 74 wRC+ that is even worse than that of Gerardo Parra and Carlos Gonzalez. Bruce’s line is superior to that of Ian Desmond’s overall 64 wRC+, but considering Desmond’s 109 wRC+ over his past 93 plate appearances, Bruce may not really represent much of an upgrade.

For Shaw, he would be returning to Mickey Callaway, former Indians pitching coach and current manager of the Mets. As Sherman suggests, who better to potentially turn Shaw’s season around than the coach who knows him better than anyone else?

Colorado Rockies: Jon Gray is not the only one at fault | Rox Pile
In a recent interview with MLB.com’s Jon Morosi, Rockies General Manager Jeff Bridich mentioned Rockies starting pitcher Jon Gray as a player that needs to step up for the Rockies. Gray is pitching to a 5.68 ERA, despite excellent peripherals (3.18 FIP, 10.8 K/9). Rox Pile’s Noah Yingling acknowledges that Gray does need to improve, but turns the tables on Bridich who has made some questionable moves or has neglected to make trades or sign players to improve the Rockies’ roster. Yingling even suggests that Bridich could be a “scapegoat” if the Rockies’ season continues to go south.

BSN Rockies Podcast: What can cure what ails Colorado? | BSN Denver
In the latest episode of the BSN Rockies podcast, Drew Creasman ponders what could cure the struggles the Rockies have endured as of late. The Rockies’ bullpen is discussed, and it should be noted that Adam Ottavino and Carlos Estevez have been sorely missed, and thus the ‘pen is likely not as bad as currently constructed.

Examining the Rockies’ problems and fixing flaws, before it’s too late | Mile High Sports
Ronnie Khort of Mile High Sports urges the Rockies to go all-in on trading for talent as soon as possible. Khort suggests trading prospects for Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox as a means of not only making the current iteration of the team better, but also to show 2019-2020 free agent Nolan Arenado that the Rockies are serious about contending.

Stark: How MLB expansion could lead to realignment, a new playoff format, a universal DH and more | The Athletic ($)
Jayson Stark of The Athletic offers a very interesting and complex look at possible expansion franchises and league realignment, a dream that is becoming more and more likely to be a reality at some point over the next decade. Stark suggests Portland, Oregon, and Charlotte, North Carolina, as the most likely expansion cities, but mentions several others as possibilities. In terms of realignment, baseball could get rid of the American and National Leagues, and create four divisions in the “East” and “West,” ultimately creating a universal designated hitter. There’s also the possibility of creating a third division for both leagues. In both scenarios, the Rockies are placed in a division with the Houston Astros, Texas Rangers, and Kansas City Royals.

In terms of regular season schedule and the postseason, Stark suggests a 154-game regular season, with a longer postseason (with either multiple three-game or one-game playoff series at the start). According to one official that Stark spoke with, a 154-game, 32-team schedule would be the “easiest schedule to make.”