Welcome to the 2023 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2023. The purpose of this list is to provide a snapshot of the player in context. The “Ranking” is an organizing principle that’s drawn from Baseball Reference’s WAR (rWAR). It’s not something the staff debated. We’ll begin with the player with the lowest rWAR and end up with the player with the highest.
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No. 23, Fernando Abad: 0.1 rWAR
The Rockies needed pitching depth in 2023. Craving a desire to bolster their ranks and include a veteran in the process, they signed 37-year-old, left-handed reliever Fernando Abad to a minor-league contract. Over the course of the season, Abad cracked the big-league roster twice before ultimately getting released in August.
For the majority of the season, Abad pitched for the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes. In that time, he enjoyed a good stretch of success. Over the course of 30 1⁄3 innings in 26 total games (including 16 games finished) this season, Abad had a 3.86 ERA and a .857 WHIP. Despite not lighting up the radar gun, he also managed 32 strikeouts to just three walks and gave up a meager four home runs.
Those efforts were attractive enough for the Rockies that he was able to receive two separate—albeit short—stints in the big-league bullpen.
The first stint came late over a three-game stretch from May 15-21. His first two outings were scoreless affairs, but his third outing came against the Texas Rangers. In an inning of work, Abad surrendered three runs on five hits, including two home runs, with a walk. That bad outing on May 20, along with subsequent roster moves, resulted in him being designated for assignment and later released. About a week later Abad re-signed with the team and continued pitching in Albuquerque.
His second stint came on July 2 when he was again selected for the 40-man roster. In his first two games, he tossed 2 1⁄3 scoreless innings in total against the Houston Astros and the San Francisco Giants, having coughed up just four hits with two strikeouts. He then didn’t pitch for about 10 days until July 18 when he tossed a scoreless inning with one hit and a walk against the Astros at Coors Field.
Abad was designated for assignment the next day and stayed in Albuquerque until he was released in August.
In total, Abad allowed three runs on 11 hits in just 6 1⁄3 innings of work for a 4.26 ERA with two strikeouts and three walks. He managed a 37% ground ball rate in the small sample size as well as a 33% fly ball rate. Given his age and the position of the team, the organization saw fit to release him, giving him the chance to pursue other opportunities during the final stretch of the season. He finished the season with the Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers where he had a 7.88 ERA in eight innings.
Despite Abad’s success in Triple-A and the moderate success in his short time with the Rockies, the team chose not to roster him for an extended period. For as much as the team receives criticism for its dependence on veterans, it was somewhat surprising that Abad only pitched six games. Wisely they relied on the talent already on the roster and gave younger relievers opportunities down the stretch.
While there is always room for a veteran minor league depth signing like Abad, the Rockies now continue to focus on the young arms coming up through the system as they look to rebuild their pitching corps.
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