With two more days remaining, spring training 2021 is just about over and the regular season is just a few days away. It’s been nice to get back into the swing of baseball but it’s been a pretty difficult last couple of weeks with the injuries to Brendan Rodgers, Kyle Freeland and, more seriously, Scott Oberg.
Nevertheless, the show must go on and the Rockies will continue on with who they have. And coming off a minor leagues-less year in 2020, we actually learned a lot more than we normally do about the players and depth in the Rockies organization. Here are four specific things we learned from spring training.
Colton Welker is coming
When Colton Welker was added to the 40-man roster back in November, fans weren’t exactly sure where he was at in his development. After spending 2019 at Double-A Hartford and slashing .252/.313/.408, he spent 2020 — what probably would have been his Triple-A year — hidden away at the team’s alternate site. So it was very encouraging to see him have such a good spring. Now it was just spring training, so we should hold judgement until we see some numbers over a longer span of time, but it’s fair to say he might be ready faster than we as a community originally thought.
Depending on where the Rockies end up placing Connor Joe, he’s arguably the best corner infield option they have over Greg Bird. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Welker make his MLB debut sometime in the early summer.
Well this is something all sports fans already knew, so I guess we were more so reminded rather than taught. Spring training injuries happen every year, but it was especially demoralizing when the Rockies lost someone as important as Kyle Freeland to a strain in his throwing shoulder for at least a month. It exposes the organization’s lack of quality starting pitch depth and puts the team in an extremely tougher position if another starting pitcher was to get banged up early in the year.
Brendan Rodgers’ injury was even more disheartening. The 24-year-old infielder was having a great spring and was primed for a breakout season before he came up limping after he tried to steal second base. His hamstring strain will also keep him out for at least a month. As we know this is just the latest injury Rodgers has had in his young career, he dealt with a shoulder strain that limited him in 2020 and in 2019 his season was cut short because of a torn labrum.
The Scott Oberg news is an absolute gut punch more so for him as a person rather than the team. There really isn’t a whole lot to say about it other than we all hope he recovers well and does what’s best for him.
Alan Trejo could be the next middle infielder up
During last year’s spring training 2.0 in Denver, I remember Trejo’s name just kept getting mentioned in different articles and he just kept making plays. I specifically remember reading this tweet from MLB.com’s Thomas Harding:
More I watch infielder Alan Trejo in #Rockies camp, more I wonder how he escaped the prospect lists. He needs development as a hitter, but you watch him work in the field and you see confidence. Like Story and Arenado, he demands much of himself during practice. https://t.co/orr4OoIYkz— Thomas Harding (@harding_at_mlb) July 19, 2020
Fast forward about seven months later and Trejo puts together a solid spring with both the bat (.293/.326/.512) and glove. His 43 spring plate appearances as a non-roster invitee is also pretty telling of how the Rockies view him. I wouldn’t necessarily expect him to make the jump this year, but if Trevor Story gets traded and Brendan Rodgers is still dealing with injuries, Trejo makes sense and seems capable.
Gomber’s potential is real
Austin Gomber will forever be tied to a disappointing moment in Rockies history, but so far the promise that the Rockies saw in him is real and we’ve witnessed it as he failed to give up a run in his first nine innings of the spring. Again, we’ll hold true judgement until we can see him make a few starts at elevation but there’s no denying Gomber’s potential as the final piece of a solid rotation.
On a healthy Rockies team, he will likely be the fifth starter but now that Freeland will miss time, Gomber will need to step up as the team’s lone left-handed starter.
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Chi Chi González continued his excellent spring on Sunday after only giving up three hits and one run while striking out five in four innings of work. Josh Fuentes lit it up again, going 4-for-4 with an RBI and a double. Colton Welker launched his second homer of the spring off of Jake Newberry in the eighth inning with two outs.
It’s been a long time coming for Dom Nuñez but this season is expected to be his first extended run with regular playing time at the major league level. Patrick Saunders takes a look at how he got here and what he’s looking to provide the Rockies after their offensive struggles at catcher the last few years.
After a rough 2020, Chi Chi González lost his 40-man roster spot on the Rockies. Now after putting together a solid spring, González finds himself back on the roster and the favorite to take over Kyle Freeland’s spot in the starting rotation. Thomas Harding takes a look at how he stayed committed as well as where and how he trained in the offseason.
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