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MLB instructional leagues kick off in Arizona

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Wednesday, October 7, 2020

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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
Adael Amador INF S/R 17 N/A
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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Rockies Prospect Stock Watch: Scouting the top players from satellite camp | The Athletic ($)

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.

Colorado Rockies’ TV ratings among steepest drops in 2020 | RoxPile

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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