After the cancellation of the Minor League Baseball season due to the coronavirus pandemic, MLB held out hope of still hosting the Arizona Fall League. The initial thought was to expand the Arizona and Florida Fall Leagues to allow prospects to still get their work in. However, as the baseball season progressed and it became more apparent that conditions were not getting better, MLB made the decision to cancel the AFL and instead host an instructional league for top prospects.
Rockies prospects reported to camp on Monday for initial intake and will live in a bubble in Arizona for the five-week instructional camp. They will be supplied two meals per day at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, plus other meals under club control in a protected area at the team’s hotel.
Beyond meals and lodging, Baseball America also reports that players will be compensated for participation in the instructional league. The exact dollar amount will be determined by the level that the player would have been assigned to in 2020 if they had been able to play. In years past, players have not been paid to play in the fall instructional leagues, so this is huge.
Josh Norris writes that all 15 teams with spring training facilities in Arizona have agreed to play each other during the instructional league, but the exact schedule and number of games varies from team to team. The Cubs, for example, are only playing 17 games where as the Padres are playing 40 against outside competition. The Rockies will play games between October 14 and November 7, but the exact number of games has not been released.
Norris also explains the logistics of the Arizona-based league and how they will go about playing these inter-squad games:
The teams will be divided into two leagues, with the eight teams located on the West side of the Phoenix area playing each other in a schedule that begins Oct. 5 and ends Nov. 14, while the seven teams on the East side of Phoenix will begin on Oct. 6 and end on Nov. 12. To give the East side an even number of teams, the Giants will field two clubs.
The Rockies will field one team and have invited 39 prospects to participate. Here is the full roster (for more information, see here):
2020 Rockies AZ Instructional League Roster
|Name||Position||B/T||Age (as of 10/1/2020)||2019 Team|
|Name||Position||B/T||Age (as of 10/1/2020)||2019 Team|
|Warming Bernabel||INF||R/R||18||DSL Rockies/DSL Colorado|
|Julio Carreras||INF||R/R||20||Grand Junction Rockies|
|Brayan Castillo||RHSP||R/R||20||DSL Colorado|
|Jose Cordova||C||R/R||20||DSL Rockies|
|Niko Decolati||OF||R/R||23||Asheville Tourists|
|Brenton Doyle||OF||R/R||22||Grand Junction Rockies|
|Will Ethridge||RHSP||R/R||22||Boise Hawks|
|Ryan Feltner||RHSP||R/R||24||Asheville Tourists|
|Blake Goldsberry||RHRP||R/R||23||University of Kansas (2020 UDFA)|
|Robinson Hernandez||RHRP||R/R||21||DSL Rockies/DSL Colorado|
|Gavin Hollowell||RHRP||R/R||22||Grand Junction Rockies|
|Jacob Kostyshock||RHRP||R/R||22||Grand Junction Rockies|
|Christian Koss||INF||R/R||22||Grand Junction Rockies|
|Shelby Lackey||RHRP||R/R||23||Asheville Tourists|
|Grant Lavigne||1B||L/R||21||Asheville Tourists|
|Luke Leisenring||C||S/R||21||University of South Carolina-Aiken (2020 UDFA)|
|AJ Lewis||C||R/R||22||Eastern Kentucky University (2020 UDFA)|
|Willie MacIver||C||R/R||23||Asheville Tourists|
|Alexander Martinez||RHRP||R/R||23||Asheville Tourists|
|Chris McMahon||RHSP||R/R||21||Miami University-Florida (2020 Draft)|
|Juan Mejia||RHRP||R/R||20||Grand Junction Rockies|
|Ever Moya||LHRP||L/L||21||Grand Junction Rockies|
|Helcris Olivarez||LHSP||L/L||20||Grand Junction Rockies/DSL Rockies|
|Riley Pint||RHRP||R/R||22||Asheville Tourists|
|Tanner Propst||LHRP||L/L||22||Delta State University (2020 UDFA)|
|Bladimir Restituyo||OF||R/R||19||Boise Hawks/Grand Junction Rockies|
|Ryan Rolison||LHSP||R/L||23||Lancaster JetHawks/Asheville Tourists|
|Drew Romo||C||S/R||19||The Woodlands HS-Texas (2020 Draft)|
|Raymelis Rosa||RHRP||R/R||21||Asheville Tourists|
|Aaron Schunk||INF||R/R||23||Boise Hawks|
|Chad Smith||RHRP||R/R||25||Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (AA)/Jupiter Hammerheads (A+)|
|Reagan Todd||LHRP||L/L||25||Asheville Tourists/Boise Hawks|
|Michael Toglia||1B||S/L||22||Boise Hawks|
|Ezquiel Tovar||INF||R/R||19||Boise Hawks/Grand Junction Rockies|
|Zac Veen||OF||L/R||18||Spruce Creek HS-Florida (2020 Draft)|
|Ryan Vilade||OF||R/R||21||Lancaster JetHawks|
|Sam Weatherly||LHP||L/L||21||Clemson University (2020 Draft)|
|Case Williams||RHSP||R/R||18||Douglas County HS-Colorado (2020 Draft)|
Some roster highlights include five of the six 2020 draft picks (fifth-rounder Jack Blomgren is finishing classes at the University of Michigan this fall), 2019 first-rounder Michael Toglia, and 2018 first-rounder Ryan Rolison. 10 Purple Row Preseason PuRPs made the list. (We will run a staff and community PuRPs vote later in the offseason...stay tuned.)
In addition to Blomgren, some notable omissions include 2019 supplemental first-rounder Karl Kauffmann, who is nursing a “not too serious” shoulder injury (according to Assistant General Manager of Player Development Zach Wilson), and infielder Colton Welker, who was at Rockies satellite camp during the season. Thomas Harding reports that Welker will be protected with a 40-man roster spot this winter.
It is unclear if there will be any means of watching these games (in-person or on TV), but either way, minor league baseball is back!
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Nick Groke also spoke to Zach Wilson about players who “spent the summer in Denver orbiting around the big-league team on standby” in satellite camp. Wilson described a little bit of the day-to-day routines that kept these guys in baseball shape, as well as offered his thoughts on LHP Ryan Rolison, LHP Ben Bowden, RHP José Mujica (Justin Wick will discuss his brief MLB stint in tomorrow’s Ranking the Rockies), RHP Alexander Guillen, C Dom Nuñez, SS Alan Trejo, CF Yonathan Daza, and OF Bret Boswell.
The Rockies started off really well in 2020, but their season took a sharp nosedive starting in Game 15. Unsurprisingly, so did their TV ratings. Noah Yingling dives into the details of the Rockies 24% drop in viewership (according to the Nielsen Local People Meter) — fifth-steepest in the league. The only teams with steeper declines were the Pirates, Angels, Mariners, and Red Sox. Yeesh.
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