Who doesn’t love a Top 10 list? Well, we do! So welcome to Top 10 Tuesday, where every week we will dive into a different Rockies-related topic. These lists will not be scientific. They are 100-percent opinion (a “Mountain Viewpoint” so to speak) and — more importantly — they are 100-percent debatable. We encourage the banter in the comments (keep it respectful), and feel free to offer up some future topic ideas!
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This one’s for you, Crash Davis.
With all the changes being made to the minor leagues, it seems fitting to take a look at some of the top single-season offensive performances in Colorado’s farm club history. This is somewhat of a dubious list, as most on it are... let’s just say unrecognizable. But it also comes with one caveat: Triple-A stats only. This partly explains the list, as most top names make only brief stops at Triple-A before heading to the big leagues. Sorry, Hartford, Asheville and Modesto, this list is reserved for Sky Sox and Isotopes only.
No. 10: Chris Hatcher, 1999
Chris Hatcher embodies what this list is. He was a minor league lifer (oh, the stories he could tell), who played just eight games in the majors over his 13 professional seasons. One of his best was in 1999 with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, when he had a 1.015 OPS with 21 homers and 24 doubles. Hatcher hit 238 career minor league home runs (including 46 in 1998 with Omaha).
No. 9: Trenidad Hubbard, 1994
Trenidad Hubbard spent parts of 10 seasons in MLB, but he had staying power in the minors with 1,721 games played there. Hubbard’s 1994 and 1995 seasons with the Sky Sox could make this list individually, but that two-year stretch helps him stand out. Hubbard hit .363/.340, stole 28/37 bases and had a .920/.979 OPS in ‘94 and ‘95, respectively. His four-year stint in the Springs landed him in the Sky Sox Hall of Fame.
No. 8: Harvey Pulliam, 1995
Another minor league journeyman, Harvey spent 16 seasons in professional baseball, with just 123 games in the big leagues. Perhaps his best season was in 1995 with Colorado Springs, where he enjoyed a 1.012 OPS, with 25 homers and 91 RBIs.
No. 7: Todd Helton, 1997
Undoubtedly the most recognizable name on this list, Todd Helton sure gave a sign of things to come during his 1997 campaign with the Sky Sox. He hit .352 with 16 home runs and 31 doubles that year.
No. 6: Roberto Ramos, 2019
Roberto Ramos still has a chance to become one of the anomalies on this list and achieve MLB stardom. The 2014 16th-round pick broke out in a big way with the Albuquerque Isotopes in 2019. Ramos hit .309 with 30 home runs and 105 RBIs and has yet to make is Major League debut.
No. 5: Eric Young Jr., 2009
Born into Rockies royalty, Eric Young Jr. put his own name on the organization’s map with his speed. During the 2009 season with the Sky Sox, Junior stole 58 bases, along with 10 triples and 21 doubles. He also swiped 87 — 87! — bags for Asheville in 2006 and 414 over his entire minor league career (through 2019).
No. 4: Joe Koshansky, 2008
Stuck behind Todd Helton at first base for much of his career, Joe Koshansky had quite a few standout seasons in the minors. But none were bigger than 2008, when he had a .980 OPS with 31 homers, 36 doubles and 121 RBIs. Koshansky also got a brief call-up to the Rockies that year, when he hit three home runs in 18 games.
No. 3: Garrett Atkins, 2004
If we’re being honest, there’s three players from the 2004 Sky Sox who deserve spots on this list. Garrett Atkins, Brad Hawpe and Andy Tracy all had outstanding seasons at Triple-A that year, and it’s actually difficult to pick the best one. Atkins’ 1.012 OPS and .366 average stand out. Tracy belted 33 home runs and drove in 120 runs. And Hawpe hit 31 home runs in just 92 games. Maybe they weren’t exactly the Blake Street Bombers, but the Tutt Boulevard Taters, perhaps?
No. 2: Phil Hiatt, 2000
Phil Hiatt spent just one year in the Rockies’ organization, but he made the most of it. The journeyman had 73 extra-base hits in 2000, including 36 home runs. He had 109 RBIs and a .983 OPS that season for Colorado Springs.
No. 1: J.R. Phillips, 1999
Kudos to you if you were able to guess No. 1 on this list prior to reading it. J.R. Phillips didn’t do much in the majors during the brief call-ups over his 17-year professional career — but he’ll always have that 1999 Sky Sox season to look back upon fondly. Phillips smacked 41 home runs and 22 doubles that season, enroute to a .994 OPS and a cool 100 RBIs.
Jim Tatum, 1994; Carlos Mendoza, 2000; Ryan Shealy, 2005; Andrew Brown, 2012; Sam Hilliard, 2019
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What did I miss? Where did I get it wrong? Sound off in the comments!