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Elehuris Montero and the roadblock conundrum

Colorado Rockies news and links for Saturday, May 28, 2022

It’s been a miserable month of May for the Colorado Rockies. They hold an 8-15 record and -22 run differential in May, despite facing only two teams with a winning record. They have plummeted to the bottom of the division and are in real danger of watching their hopes of contention fade away. The rotation has been adequate, except Germán Márquez who is broken at the moment. But much of the staff’s work has gone unrewarded, as the bullpen has been understaffed and faltering for the most part.

Rockies May Offensive Stats

Stat Rockies League Rank
Stat Rockies League Rank
HR 19 24th
ISO .119 25th
Barrel % 5.2% 26th
wRC+ 86 27th
Soft % 18.9% 27th
FB% 31.5% 29th
GB% 48.2% 29th

The offense has had chances to cover for the team’s pitching woes, but largely sputtered in their attempts to do so. C.J. Cron continues to be a man on a mission this season, but he can’t carry the load himself. This leaves Colorado floundering in the bottom-third of the league in terms of offensive punch over the past month. Help is clearly needed to get the offense going.

The prevailing thought was Kris Bryant, beneficiary of Colorado’s newest mega-deal, would be that answer. After missing the first three weeks of the month with lower back stiffness, Bryant was activated on May 21st…only to land back on the IL a few days later and is expected to miss another 2-3 weeks.

So, what else we got?

Elehuris Montero AAA Career

Stat Montero
Stat Montero
AB 268
HR 15
OPS .867
K% 19.4%
BB% 8.2%

Well, at this point Elehuris Montero has little left to prove in Triple-A and is ready for a good, long look in the majors. With 9 HR and an .844 OPS, Montero has been the cornerstone of the Albuquerque lineup this season without any substantial slumps along the way. His 2021 season put him on the map as a near-term prospect for Colorado and he has done nothing but build off that in 2022.

The defense is still questionable, at best. He continues to split time at the corners of the infield, with the majority of his work coming at third base. But it’s not great on the left side, as he owns an .891 fielding percentage at the hot corner in just under 200 innings. As if that’s not bad enough on its own, that figure is actually better than his career mark of .889 at third base over nearly 1,200 innings. Using fielding percentage to evaluate defense is rudimentary, but living below 90% at a position is simply unimaginable for the major leagues.

Maybe you could argue he needs to remain in Triple-A to work on his defense. Or, you could accept the fact that Montero is just not viable at third in anything but a “break glass in case of emergency” situation and leave him be at first base, which he has become much better acquainted with in the past two seasons. Letting him season defensively in the minors is just going to give a larger scale to what we already know.

So, Elehuris Montero offers the best potential bat to lift a stagnant offense, albeit with limited defensive value strictly on the corners. Unfortunately, corner-players are what the Rockies’ front office has stockpiled over the years, meaning there is little room for Montero to slide into the lineup regardless of his performance. The top three qualified Colorado hitters in OPS – C.J. Cron, Connor Joe and Ryan McMahon – are all starters at the only potential spots for Montero and, at this point, only a significant injury to one of the team’s biggest contributors will allow him to get his chance. And speaking of significant injury, once Bryant returns he will be on the depth chart at these positions as well, further complicating the issue.

This is not new. The Rockies have a proclivity for blocking prospects and Montero is simply the latest farmhand on the ride. He is just 23 years old and has only 68 games in Triple-A to his name, so spending the majority of the year in Triple-A would seem the cautious plan all along. Eventually, though, the Rockies are going to have to start clearing the runway and taking chances on players that could help their struggling roster; or start using them in deals to improve other areas of the team. Until they do, it’s hard to see their persistent offensive woes subsiding.

★ ★ ★

The Rockies need some action guys | Purple Row

Renee Dechert gives a wonderful look at the new MLB initiative and how the Rockies fit into it. “Action on the field” is what MLB is pushing, deadening the baseball to help reduce the number of home runs hit and create more balls in-play. Unfortunately, the construction of the Rockies’ roster seems counter-productive to this system.

★ ★ ★

On the Farm

Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes 12, Round Rock Express 9

The Isotopes came out on top in a back-and-forth affair at home against the Express. Round Rock took an early lead, putting up four runs off Antonio Senzatela in the first two innings. But Albuquerque put up three of their in the bottom of the second to cut the lead down to one. RBI singles by Ryan Vilade in the fourth and Scott Schebler in the fifth put Albuquerque back on top before Elehuris Montero’s ninth home run of the season in the sixth inning stretched the lead to 7-4. The teams would match runs in the seventh before Round Rock put up three in the top of the eighth off reliever Nate Griep to tie the game at nine. The tie didn’t last long though, as a two-run homer by Wynton Bernard put the Isotopes ahead for good before Montero drove in the final run with a single. Jake Bird picked up the save with a perfect inning in the ninth.

Double-A: Hartford Yard Goats 7, Richmond Flying Squirrels 3

Starter Nick Bush was strong in a victory on the road for Hartford. Bush held Richmond two runs with seven strikeouts over seven innings. Things were tight after six innings with Hartford leading 2-1, but back-to-back singles with the bases loaded by Michael Toglia and Brenton Doyle opened up the lead before Aaron Schunk delivered the biggest blow with a two-run double, highlighting a five run inning by the Yard Goats. Richmond would rally late, bringing the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, but P.J. Poulin induced a twin-killing to earn the save. Shuck had four hits in the game while Doyle and Ezequiel Tovar each collected two.

High-A: Spokane Indians 15, Everett AquaSox 7

The Spokane offense exploded early, plating six runs in the bottom of the first inning to jump out to a big lead early on. Daniel Montano highlighted the initial outburst, hitting a three-run shot for his first home run of the season. Everett would chip away though, putting up six runs off starter Will Ethridge in the first four innings before taking the lead with a run in the fifth. Drew Romo tied up the game with a single in the seventh before two throwing errors proceeded a Julio Carreras single, bringing him all the way around the bases for a three-run little-league round-tripper. Carreras would go a more conventional route in the eighth, driving a three-run homer over the left field wall to cap off another four-run inning and secure the victory for Spokane at home.

Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies 6, Stockton Ports 5

Fresno closed out a perfect night for the affiliates, beating Stockton in a walk-off victory. Trailing by two in the second, a Juan Guerrero tied up the score with a double before Aiverson Rodriguez pushed the Grizzlies ahead by reaching on an error. Stockton answered with three runs in the fourth to bring the score to 5-3. A Braiden Ward sacrifice fly in the seventh brought Fresno closer, but they still entered the ninth trailing by one. After a Ward flyout, Warming Bernabel reached on a throwing error to set up Hunter Goodman, who delivered with his tenth home run of the season to send the Fresno faithful home happy.

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