As we continue our journey through the random players that have donned the purple pinstripes, I decided to go for some really deep cuts that played for the Rockies for just a fraction of a second. Thanks to some meticulous research on Baseball Reference, today we will look back on four position players that have some unique things in common. All the random Rockies highlighted in this article only played two games with the team, tallied just one hit in their Rockies career, and saw the last of their big league action with Colorado.
Rene Gonzales (1997)
Rene Gonzales had been playing with the Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres prior to being released by the Padres in late April of 1997. He found a new home with the Rockies organization a month later and spent the majority of the season in Colorado Springs where he slashed a strong .297/.375/.402 with 20 doubles and 39 RBI in 85 games with the Sky Sox.
In late September that season, Gonzales earned a short-lived call-up to Colorado to finish out the year. The first game he appeared in was on September 21st in Los Angeles against the Dodgers. Gonzales came in as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning where he promptly grounded out, but the Rockies did win that game 10-5.
His second and final appearance came at Coors Field on the final day of the season on September 28th where he appeared as a pinch-hitter once again in the eighth. This time, however, Gonzales ripped a single off of Dennys Reyes to drive in Harvey Pulliam and extend the Rockies lead. He then stayed in the game at third base to finish the ninth inning and participate in the Rockies’ win. It would be his final appearance in MLB after playing 13 seasons with seven different teams.
Brian Raabe (1997)
Another member of the 1997 team, Brian Raabe was an infielder that also only played in September that year. Unlike Gonzales who had appeared in over 700 games, Raabe played in just 17 games across three seasons during his entire big league career. Raabe had originally been drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 1990 during the late rounds and eventually released after the 1996 season. He spent time with the Seattle Mariners organization during the 1997 season, but appeared in just two games with the team and spent the majority of the year in the minors.
On September 8th, the Mariners traded Raabe over to the Rockies for Donnie Schmidt, and he eventually was called up to the big league roster and managed to appear in a pair of games at the end of the month. His first game was on September 23rd at Coors Field against the San Francisco Giants. With the Rockies trying to extend their lead in the eighth, Raabe was called upon to pinch-hit for the pitcher Mike DeJean. With Neifi Pérez at first, Raabe dropped a sacrifice bunt to advance the runner and set up an Ellis Burks RBI single.
His second game also happened to be the final game of the season against the Dodgers, in which Gonzales also appeared. Unlike Gonzales, Raabe got to spend a decent amount of time in the game after replacing an injured Walt Weiss in the third inning to play the infield. He ended up going 1-for-3 with a strikeout, but oddly enough he got his lone Rockies hit when he lead off the bottom of the eighth with a groundball single into left field. He never appeared in MLB again after the Seibu Lions purchased his contract from the Rockies as well as bouncing around the minors.
Mike Kelly (1999)
The most prominent player on this list, Mike Kelly was a first-round, second-overall pick by the Atlanta Braves in the draft of 1990. Unfortunately for Kelly, he never quite achieved the potential the Braves saw in him and he began the journey about MLB. After his release by Tampa Bay prior to Opening Day in 1999, the Rockies scooped him up and had him appear in a pair of games in April that season.
His first game was on April 5th in a 9-6 loss against the Dodgers. Kelly managed his only hit in the ninth inning as a pinch-hitter when he smacked an RBI double to centerfield off of Alan Mills. His second game on April 12th was not as successful as he came in as a defensive replacement for Lenny Harris in the eighth inning. The game went into extra innings, and Kelly got one at-bat but grounded out to the pitcher and that would be the last piece of big-league action Kelly ever saw. He spent the rest of the year in Triple-A slashing .277/.381/.429 with 27 doubles and 50 RBI in 114 games.
Alvin Colina (2006)
The Rockies signed Alvin Colina as an amateur free agent out of Venezuela in 1998. He was a relatively successful player in the minors prior to making his debut with the Rockies as a September call-up in 2006 for a pair of games. His first appearance came on September 18th as a pinch hitter in a 20-8 victory over the Giants. Facing Jonathan Sanchez in the bottom of the fifth with the Rockies already leading 15-6, Colina got his first and only big-league knock with an RBI single left field to drive in Jeff Baker.
His next game came on September 24th against the Braves where he didn’t get a hit but got to play the entire game at catcher which is a bigger accomplishment than anyone else on this list. He bounced around with the Reds, Braves, and Rays minor league teams but the Rockies remained the only team that he cracked through to play at the highest level.
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This video from SportStorm on YouTube is a cool look back at Kyle Freeland’s spectacular 2018 season. Rockies fans know how great he was that year, but it can quickly get swept under the rug on the national scale since guys like Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer exist. But it’s interesting to see just how good Freeland’s 2018 season was and where it sits in the history of the Rockies.
Despite the lockout, minor league deals are still happening about MLB and the Rockies added a couple of depth pieces this week. In addition to Tim Lopes and Kyle Holder, the Rockies added LHP Ty Blach as a depth arm. The Colorado native is a year removed from Tommy John surgery and was rehabbing at the end of the 2021 season, so he could look to serve as a potential rotation or long relief option for the team in 2022.
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