The first week of spring training play is in the books, just over three more to go! Obviously, these games hold little weight, especially this early, but it’s our first hint at what the 2021 Rockies might look like. So let’s make something out of very small and very early sample sizes! Here are the things that have stuck out so far:
Gomber turning some heads
Austin Gomber was the lone player acquired in the Nolan Arenado trade that had major league experience. With a career ERA of 3.72 in just over 100 IP, there’s plenty of reason to be excited about the 27 year-old lefty.
Like Justin Wick talked about on Saturday, that excitement has only been heightened after the first week of spring training. Gomber has already made two starts and allowed zero runs in a combined four innings. Those are encouraging outings, especially when compared to the other candidates for the final rotation spot. Chi Chi González has pitched three innings and given up two runs, Dereck Rodriguez has given up four runs in five innings pitched and Ryan Castellani got rocked in his lone appearance that saw him give up four earned runs. Each of these players have plenty of time to turn those numbers around but so far Gomber has raised some eyebrows among coaches and fans.
Hampson seems to be the first focus at CF
Before Kevin Pillar was acquired at the trade deadline last year, Garrett Hampson played 20 of his 23 starts as an outfielder. Once Pillar came into the picture, he only played centerfield twice for the rest of the season — neither for a full game.
Now with Pillar in New York, Hampson once again appears to be the focus at centerfield. His speed, athleticism and versatility will keep him in and out of the lineup, but so far this spring he’s started in centerfield in five of the team’s seven games. It seems like the Rockies are hoping Hampson will give them a reason to hand him the starting center job. His primary competition for the position is Sam Hilliard, Chris Owings and Yonathon Daza, who’s out of options.
Fuentes out to prove last year wasn’t a fluke
The Rockies didn’t do much this offseason, but what they did do was bring in more competition for Josh Fuentes at first. C.J. Cron and Greg Bird were both brought in on minor league deals even though Fuentes hit .300 after taking the first base job from Daniel Murphy last year.
After a week of spring training, Fuentes is the clear frontrunner for the starting job, especially when you compare his 4-for-10 to Cron’s 1-for-10 and Bird’s 1-for-12. Things might change, but Fuentes’ consistency will be necessary if this offense is to be anything outside of Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon.
Do not get me wrong, though, the first week of spring training means absolutely nothing. Heck even a full spring training arguably means nothing. So why did I bother to even write this?
Most notably, jobs will be earned this spring training. You can see where the competitions are and who the Rockies want to see break out by looking at who’s getting the most at-bats and pitching often. Each of the competitions mentioned above are worth keeping an eye on throughout the spring. Purple Row will be starting our “State of the Position” series this week detailing all of these position battles, so stay tuned for more detailed info.
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Germán Márquez and Ryan Rolison both made their much anticipated spring debuts on Sunday. Márquez pitched three shutout innings and Rolison looked confident in his first two innings even after giving up a leadoff double to the first batter he faced. The offense on the other hand failed to get a hit until the sixth inning when newly acquired outfielder Jameson Hannah came into the game.
Raimel Tapia made a big leap last year when he finished the year with a .321 average, now he’s looking to continue to build on last year by improving at the plate and on defense. Coming into the year, his goal is to compete for a batting title and get into the Gold Glove discussion. He’s the favorite to lead off and Bud Black says he shouldn’t be counted out for a batting title.
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