We have baseball games to talk about! The Rockies kicked off their Cactus League schedule on Saturday against their Spring Training roommates, beating the Dbacks 12-5 at Salt River Fields. While it’s only been three, meaningless games towards the record, there are still plenty of things these exhibitions have shown us early on to look for the rest of Spring Training and the season beyond that. So here are five things that stood out in the first few games this Spring Training, with the context that it still is only Spring Training and to manage expectations from results from these games.
That’s it.— Purple Row (@PurpleRow) February 26, 2023
Rockies win 12-6.
Just remember: It’s Spring Training, so these wins mean nothing….
See you tomorrow.
Offense starting hot
The offense had started off hot in the first three Cactus League games, scoring 12 runs in both games over the weekend and another 7 yesterday for a total of 31 runs over three games. Good for taco’s each day (although not entirely sure the Rockies’ Taco Special is applicable for Spring Training). The Rockies combined for 38 hits over the three days, including 14 extra base hits and of 5 of those ending up over the wall. Both starters and prospects alike were able to hit the ball and the encouraging at bats for both. Top prospect, Zac Veen led the way for the prospects offensively, which we will go into more detail later on. Averaging over ten runs a game is a good thing and the Rockies hitters are ready to improve on last season’s lackluster season at the plate.
Winning is fun
The games may be meaningless when it comes to the standings, but that doesn’t make winning three games in three tries any less fun. Projections lean to the Rockies not winning many games this season, so cherishing the wins when they do come will be important for Rockies fans this year. Another reason winning games like this can be important is building an expectation for winning. Many MiLB players play the later innings of these first Spring Training games, meaning the prospects are the ones playing in the high-leverage moments of the game. Getting experience in late game situations can be the key to building confidence in young players and ultimately expose them to winning ballgames.
The pitch clock is fine
With the new MLB season comes new rules that will drastically change the way game is played this year, including a new pitch clock to keep the pace of play moving and limiting where players can align defensively with the shift. If you spend any time on baseball twitter, and I envy those who don’t use Twitter, you would believe the sky was falling with the implementation of the new pitch clock. For the first set of games using the pitch clock, the expectations were have some growing pains, which is why the umpires were told to be strict with awarding punishments for clock violations. The pitch clock brings a change for viewers of the game as well, with the pace seemingly moving quickly between pitches, but when compared to last season with the pitch clock, you can tell why it was needed. Limiting the amount of time between pitches keeps the game moving and limits the amount of wasted time on fixing batting gloves and staring into the crowd. We will all get used to the pace of play as the season starts and will become the norm. In the meantime, here’s a good video of why the pitch clock might be useful:
I just watch this whole video on how many Inside-The-Park homers Jose Altuve could hit before Pedro Baez through this one pitch.— Ben Verlander (@BenVerlander) February 27, 2023
You should too.
(Via - @WhatIsASports TiKTok) pic.twitter.com/SanxjLd1S6
How much impact can a healthy KB be?
Kris Bryant is back healthy after missing the majority of the 2022 season with injury. KB started the Spring off strong with a long ball in the opening frame of yesterday’s game against the A’s.
KB's bat is boomin' pic.twitter.com/XMXTPN67KY— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) February 27, 2023
Seeing Kris Bryant back in the lineup, even for just a Spring Training, inspires hope that his injuries are behind him and can be an added boost to the Rockies’ lineup. If Kris Bryant can be healthy this season, what would that mean for the Rockies? Having his bat in the lineup is important for two reasons. One, it adds another quality bat to the lineup, providing more depth to the lineup than there was last season and two, CJ Cron will have protection in the lineup. Teams will have to choose who they’d rather face in big situations, Kris Bryant or 2022 All-Star CJ Cron. This means those two will have different scenarios facing them each at bat and more favorable approaches given from opposing pitchers. In the end, having your best hitter healthy will always be a good thing, and KB being back in the lineup should be exciting to watch this year.
Zac Veen hype is real
As the highly touted top prospect of the Rockies farm system, the hype around Zac Veen has been building since his breakout performance in the Arizona Fall League. Through his first few Spring Training games, Veen has shown why that hype is real. The outfielder started the Spring off with two hits including a home run and followed it up the next day with a hit and two stolen bases. Obviously, three games is a small sample size and there is plenty of spring left, but Veen’s fast start just a few at bats in is an easy reason why his expectations are so high coming into the season. If he can continue playing this well, a debut in Denver is all but certain sometime this summer. Take a look at Saturday’s homerun below:
The speedy Zac Veen https://t.co/ndMJRlf44s pic.twitter.com/qOUlxvRFGd— Danielle Allentuck (@d_allentuck) February 25, 2023
Have something that stood out to you during this weekend’s games? Let us know in the comments!
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Average game time down 23 minutes with clock | ESPN
MLB has started implementing the new pitch clock rules with the start of Spring Training games this weekend, with mixed reviews from fans. The pitch clocked worked towards its intended goal, reducing average game time for Spring Training games this weekend by about 23 minutes compared to last spring. The longest game of the weekend lasted 3:08 minutes, which was the average game time last season, and the shortest only took 2:07. The Rockies-Brewers’ slugfest on Sunday, totaling 18 runs combined, only had a gametime of 2:58. MLB wanted to reduce the wasted time between pitches, and there were some growing pains and a game finishing on a clock violation, the new rule will definitely keep the pace of play up and the action going this season.
Rockies’ pitching prospects learn lessons from Arabian horses | MLB.com
Case Williams and nine other Rockies rookies to an unique trip to the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, a tradition used by Rockies’ director of pitching operations Steve Foster since 2015. The story recounts how the Prophet Muhammad was involved in the breeding of horses over 4,000 years ago, and Foster has used the story to inspire mental toughness and perseverance that is needed to pitch in the challenging circumstances that is Coors Field. Current starters on the Rockies’ staff Germán Márquez and Kyle Freeland both know the story well, having heard it every Spring Training since joining the league, and both contribute the story’s message to their success.
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