With so many position battles up in the air for the 2021 Rockies, the bench couldn’t be more of a crapshoot as we head to Opening Day. Will C.J. Cron earn the first base job? Who replaces Nolan Arenado at third? The outfield shuffle? These are all questions that will affect the everyday lineup of the 2021 Colorado Rockies, but it also can be looked upon as depth and versatility.
Whatever it is, let’s look at it with purple-colored glasses and take a look at the bench options for this year’s Colorado Rockies.
The Familiar Faces
Josh Fuentes leads this list. If the versatile cousin of a former Rockies great doesn’t win the first base job — after the signing of veteran C.J. Cron — he’s still likely to see lots of playing time. Last season, Fuentes played a little third base and a little outfield before supplanting himself at first before the end of the season. Fuentes had some “wow moment” plays at first base last season, which has made him a fan favorite for the starting nod.
The center field battle also features a couple recognizable faces. It appears that Garrett Hampson and Sam Hilliard may start the season as a platoon, which means either player could provide a lift from the bench. Hilliard bats left-handed and Hampson from the right, so that — depending on the opposing starting pitcher — could play in to who gets the start.
Hampson struggled at the plate in his 53 games last season, slashing .234/.383/.671. Hilliard didn’t fare much better in 2020, but both are hoping to make big strides this season.
With all the turnover in the offseason — Arenado was traded, Ian Desmond is opting out and Daniel Murphy retired, in case you hadn’t heard — there’s going to be plenty of new faces on your 2021 Colorado Rockies.
As it stands, Elias Díaz is the favorite to capture the starting catcher position, which would mean top catching prospect Dom Nuñez will be an option off the bench. The 26-year-old, who bats lefty, hasn’t seen big league action since 2019.
Two more likely options off the bench are Chris Owings and Yonathan Daza. Owings is a utility player who played nearly every position for the Rockies (2B, SS, 3B, RF, LF, CF) in just 17 games for the Rockies last season. Daza hasn’t played in the big leagues since 2019, when he batted .206 in 44 games for the Rockies.
Greg Bird, a former first baseman for the New York Yankees, has made a strong case during this Spring Training to make the big club. Bird, who played high school baseball at Colorado’s Grandview High School, has made a splash this spring and has a good shot at making the Opening Day roster.
Jameson Hannah has been arguably the most impressive prospect this spring, The non-roster invitee (acquired through a trade with the Reds this off-season) has hit .571 so far this Spring and turned a lot of heads.
Colton Welker, an infield prospect, has impressed mightily this Spring, which may earn him a spot with the big league club. Welker has hit .350 this spring with four extra-base hits.