The minor league season is winding down, but there was still plenty of news from the Colorado Rockies farm system last week.
The Hartford Yard Goats wrapped up their 2022 campaign with a series win against the Binghamton Rumble Ponies (NYM). Even though they missed out on the playoffs, Hartford still finished with a very respectable 77-60 overall record.
The Fresno Grizzlies did make the playoffs, and made quick work of their first round matchup with San Jose (SF), taking the first two games to advance to the California League Low-A championship series against the Lake Elsinore Storm (SD). The series has started unfavorably for the Grizzlies, who dropped the first game on the road. But they still have a chance to take home the title if they are able to win the next two games at Chukchansi Park.
Elsewhere, the Arizona Fall League rosters were announced on Friday. The Rockies will once again be represented by the Salt River Rafters, combining prospects with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Cardinals and Toronto Blue Jays to form the roster.
On the pitching side, Blair Calvo, Fineas Del Bonta-Smith, Stephen Jones and Peter Lambert will be headed to Talking Stick. Calvo, Del Bonta-Smith and Jones have all spent the season in the Hartford bullpen and are Rule-5 Draft eligible in the off-season. Lambert is on the 40-man roster, but has not appeared in a game since June and will surely be watched closely this fall.
Colorado will be represented in the field by C Braxton Fulford, 3B Warming Bernabel (No. 18 PuRP), 1B Grant Lavigne (No. 22 PuRP), and OF Zac Veen (No. 1 PuRP). Bernabel and Lavigne will both be Rule-5 Draft eligible in the off-season and have split times between multiple levels this season. Top prospect Veen has also split time between High-A and Double-A this season and how he fares against top-flight competition will surely be of significance for the front office’s planning of 2023. Maybe the biggest surprise of the selections is Fulford, a 6th round selection in the 2021. He spent the entire season in Low-A Fresno, hitting 17 doubles, 15 home runs and posting a 117wRC+ in 104 games. After a strong regular season, a good showing in the Arizona Fall League could put Fulford on a fast-track through the system.
Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes (2-4, 61-78 overall)
As the affiliates around them close shop one-by-one, the Albuquerque Isotopes have continued to chug along. After taking both halves of a double-header to start the series against Oklahoma City (LAD), the ‘Topes dropped four straight games to wrap-up the series.
Wynton Bernard, who was voted Albuquerque’s Most Valuable Player, continued his torrid season with two home runs and an impressive .389/.429/.833 line in the series. Part of Bernard’s rampage was hitting Albuquerque’s 14th grand slam in 2022, setting the record for most in a season by any minor league team.
NEW @MiLB RECORD! @SaintBerny36 swats the 14th grand slam of the year—the most in the HISTORY of MiLB. We are now tied with the 2000 Oakland Athletics and 2006 Cleveland Indians for the most in professional baseball history. pic.twitter.com/P2FleDHMLx— Mariachis de Nuevo México (@ABQTopes) September 17, 2022
The newest face in the Albuquerque dugout was Ezequiel Tovar (No. 6 PuRP), who made his Triple-A debut against the Dodgers. After being out since June 29, Tovar didn’t miss a beat in his first series back, posting multiple hits in two of his three games, including his first Isotopes homer.
Double-A: Hartford Yard Goats (4-2, 77-60 overall)
The conclusion of the Hartford series was a successful one, as they took four-of-six games on the road against the Rumble Ponies. Case Williams didn’t pick up one of those wins, but still delivered an electric Double-A debut. Williams, who has now pitched at three MiLB levels this season, got off to a rocky start when he was touched up for a three-run home run in the first inning. But he settled in, allowing one run over the next five frames and ultimately finished with an impressive 12 strikeouts to just one walk over six innings pitched.
Offensively, Brenton Doyle (No. 10 PuRP) led the way with a team-high eight knocks, three home runs, seven RBI and a 1.120 OPS. Isaac Collins also had a strong finish to the season, scoring seven runs and posting a 1.184 OPS.
Two pitchers who were absent from the festivities were Noah Davis (No. 19 PuRP) and Gavin Hollowell, who were both called up to the active Major League roster during the week.
Fresno Grizzlies (2-1 playoffs, 82-49 overall regular season)
The playoff atmosphere is palpable for the Grizzlies, who are vying for their first title since 2015, when they were in the Pacific Coast League and affiliated with the Houston Astros.
The championship push got off to a strong start with a 12-3 win in game one of the semi finals, highlighted by a three-hit night from 2022 draftee Jordan Beck. Opening day starter Brayan Castillo kept the momentum going in game two, delivering four strong innings with just two hits allowed on the way to a 7-3 victory.
That earned Fresno a spot in the championship against Lake Elsinore. As mentioned at the top of the article, the series has started in the Storm’s favor, but the Grizzlies are still alive and will need to win their last two games to capture their first California League championship since 1987. If the squad is up to the task, they will secure their tenth California League title in team history.
★ ★ ★
Week of 9/26-10/2 (Hitters)
|Colton Welker||11||SF Triple-A (IL)||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Jameson Hannah||HM||Double-A (IL)||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
Week of 9/26-10/2 (Pitchers)
|Ryan Rolison||4||Triple-A (IL)||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Helcris Olivarez||13||ACL (IL)||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Sam Weatherly||14||ACL (IL)||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|McCade Brown||29||Low-A (IL)||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
Season to Date (Hitters)
|Colton Welker||11||SF Triple-A (IL)||12/37||2||7||6||0|
|Jameson Hannah||HM||Double-A (IL)||27/99||1||25||12||7|
Season to Date (Pitchers)
|Ryan Rolison||4||Triple-A (IL)||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Helcris Olivarez||13||ACL (IL)||1/1||2.0||0/0||1||0|
★ ★ ★
Triple-A Albuquerque: 9/20-9/25 @ Sugar Land (HOU)
Double-A Hartford: Season Concluded
High-A Spokane: Season concluded
Low-A Fresno: 9/20-21 vs Lake Elsinore (SD)