“We haven’t even played a spring training game ... and people are already counting us out.” “It’s a great opportunity for us to shock the world.”
Kyle Freeland has spoken, and it seems his sentences are meant to either motivate or dissipate the current state of the Rockies. There is more to Freeland’s words under the surface, however, and a deep dive through Freeland history may show us just how sincere he is.
In 2017, he was given one of the biggest stages he could ask for: the home opener in his home city. Colorado routed the Dodgers 2-1, and the hometown kid received a catalyzing welcome—in his big league debut.
Freeland grew up in Denver, an alum of Thomas Jefferson High School and perhaps the most connected present-day Rockie to the 2007 World Series run (other than maybe Bud Black, who managed the losing Padres in the tiebreaker). Freeland was a high school freshman and a long bike ride away from an MLB venue that hosted the pinnacle of baseball competition that year. He would go on to dominate the Colorado high school landscape and would spend three years at Indiana’s Evansville University, only to return to Colorado by way of a draft pick in 2014. He suited up for Asheville and Grand Junction in his first professional season, laying the foundation for a three-year minor league development that took him through each Rockies affiliate and the Arizona Fall League.
Has there ever been a pitcher so excited to pitch for the Rockies?
His excitement may have easily diminished in recent years, but Freeland’s optimism shows it is still there. If we interpret Freeland’s words as profound, he could have earned the face of optimism for an otherwise beseeched, post-Arenado franchise that could use some uplifting.
With the additions of Greg Bird and C.J. Cron, some inexpensive veteran impact may prove vital for a Rockies team hoping to exceed expectations. It isn’t comforting to say this about two players that were given minor league contracts this spring, but with a combined 11 seasons of MLB experience, Bird and Cron may prevent a handful of young prospects from simply scoring a position by default. This could end up being a good thing for the franchise; it will be interesting to see players truly earn those spots.
The win column may reflect those pursuits: “This active roster that will be put on the field this year is going to go out there looking to win ballgames consistently,” says Freeland.
With the inherent 2020 successes of Freeland, Germán Márquez and Antonio Senzatela, the Rockies are poised to further their starting pitcher successes. Jon Gray looks to rebound from a lingering shoulder injury, Austin Gomber looks to prove his worth away from St. Louis, and Dereck Rodríguez looks to prove the division rival Giants should have kept him around. In the true spirit of pitchers and catchers reporting, Freeland’s comments encapsulate the joy and excitement that come with the rebirth of spring. A strong pitching landscape may have been fresh on Freeland’s mind when he made his comments, but there are plenty of other players in the mix that will look to match a similar fight of their own.
Freeland seems to be fighting for everybody. That includes the baseball future of his home city.
★ ★ ★
Rockies Insider: Padres’ mega-deal with Fernando Tatis Jr. another sign that Colorado is way behind in NL West ($)
San Diego’s new Tatis deal furthers a history of long contract extensions within the NL West, and Rockies fans are readily aware of the implications that can come out of such a deal. Kyle Newman covers the basics on San Diego’s deal for the young superstar, drawing parallels to how the Cardinals picked up Arenado.
Following the minor league schedule releases over the past week, Kevin Henry of Rox Pile gives us a rundown on the Rockies’ new High-A affiliate. Spokane has been a short-season rookie affiliate since 1983; their new designation protects their affiliate status with the Rockies through 2030, and their promotion comes with about 50 more games per year.
In the latest DNVR Rockies Podcast, Drew Creasman and Patrick Lyons welcome Justin Wick of Purple Row (yours truly) onto the show. Topics include Tatis’ lengthy deal and Freeland’s recent comments, among others.
★ ★ ★
Please keep in mind our Purple Row Community Guidelines when you’re commenting. Thanks!