Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the Colorado Rockies have too many outfielders. The Colorado Rockies have too many corner infielders. The Colorado Rockies have a logjam!
With starting pitcher Germán Márquez heading to the 15-day IL with right forearm inflammation, the organization decided to call up INF/OF Nolan Jones as an extra man until they need another pitcher on Sunday. This is a well-deserved promotion for Jones, who transitioned from a miserable spring into a torrid start with the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes.
Jones struggled immensely during spring training, hitting just .200/.268/.240 with only two doubles. He struck out 23 times and showed no hints of the tantalizing power held within his 6’4’’ frame. The Rockies made the right decision when he was optioned to the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes to start the season. Jones needed to find his rhythm at the plate and consistent minor league at-bats would help in that regard. The decision paid off in spades with Jones catching fire to start the season. In ten games and 48 plate appearances with the Isotopes, he clobbered six home runs and had 14 RBI. He drew eight walks and struck out just nine times. The call-up for Jones was well deserved and he now needs regular big league playing time.
There’s the rub, as it were. The Rockies are so logjammed—again— that it’s difficult to see where Jones fits. Including Jones the Rockies are currently carrying six outfielders on the active roster. Jurickson Profar is getting paid at least $7.75 million and his bat is finally starting to come alive, so left field is occupied. Yonathan Daza has started 12 of the Rockies’ 13 games in center field so far this season. Kris Bryant has started nine games in right field and is already sharing time with the elder statesman Charlie Blackmon, who has made four starts. On the bench the Rockies have Harold Castro, who has started five games at various positions since making the team out of spring training.
All of that comes before you account for Randal Grichuk. Grichuk had surgery for a bilateral sports hernia prior to spring training, but he’s starting to make his way back. He’s playing extended spring training games at the Rockies’ facility in Arizona and could be back in less than a month.
With a crowded outfield—even if the Rockies were to DFA Castro—one would turn their attention to the infield. After all, Jones’ natural position is third base, right? The problem (for lack of a better term) is that the Rockies have surprisingly shown commitment to playing Elehuris Montero at third base. With the injury to Brendan Rodgers, Ryan McMahon has exclusively played second base this season even when coming in as a defensive replacement. Montero has made eight starts at the hot corner and has missed time this week only because of a hand injury caused by his awkward (but memorable) slide home on Monday. The Rockies also have Alan Trejo, Mike Moustakas, and even Harold Castro available to play at third as well.
CJ Cron has exclusivity at first base, minus two missed starts due to flu-like symptoms, and the DH spot belongs to Charlie Blackmon when he isn’t out in right field or taking a day off. With how the roster is built right now, Jones just doesn’t have an easy avenue to consistent playing time.
Making matters worse for Jones is the plethora of talent at pretty much all of his positions becoming MLB ready quickly. Zac Veen and Brenton Doyle could appear in the Rockies outfield by the end of the season. Grant Lavigne and Warming Bernabel are both starting the season with the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats and could contribute to future logjams. Catcher Hunter Goodman is also with the Yard Goats and is getting more chances in the outfield in addition to first base.
The trade deadline this year is August 1st, and the Rockies are unlikely to start dealing (or releasing) players like Cron and Grichuk until then. Even if they did, the only known is that it could open up playing time. The market for Grichuk isn’t going to be very big at the moment, and if the Rockies wanted to trade Cron to a team that needs a first baseman and designated hitter they definitely could have done so already. The Philadelphia Phillies lost both their starting and backup first basemen to injury, and the Seattle Mariners could use some pop at those positions as well.
The only immediate and easy move for the Rockies is to move on from Harold Castro, but as mentioned previously that doesn’t necessarily pave a path to playing time for Jones. Castro might already be a DFA walking if the Rockies decide to keep Jones on the 26-man roster when they potentially call up Noah Davis to start this weekend.
The logjams within the organization are recurring and unlikely to clear any time soon. The Rockies will—if they’re smart—deal Profar, Moustakas, and anyone else not expected to be a part of this team’s future at the deadline. However, even that might not be enough with the possibility of the logjam reforming again next year. The Rockies need to figure out what they’re doing before that happens.
★ ★ ★
Jim Callis, Sam Dykstra, and Jonathan Mayo rank what they consider to be the most talented MiLB affiliate for each big league club. For the Rockies, the trio consider the Double-A Hartford Hard Goats a step above the rest with nine of the organization’s top 30 prospects on the roster.
Rockies fans can breath a tremendous sigh of relief that Germán Márquez is only headed to the 15-day IL with right forearm inflammation after his MRI showed no significant structural damage. Meanwhile, Antonio Senzatela, Randal Grichuk, Daniel Bard, and surprisingly Ryan Rolison are all making strides towards returning.
Rooftop Roundup: April 12th
★ ★ ★
On the Farm
The Isotopes had a much needed quality day from their pitching staff. Karl Kauffmann wasn’t perfect but he worked quickly and efficiently through six innings. He only gave up two earned runs on three hits and a walk. Both runs came in a rough second inning where he started the frame with a double, a hit-by-pitch, and a walk. Riley Pint also enjoyed a much needed scoreless outing, his first of the year. The Isotopes bullpen of Pint, Fernando Abad, and Matt Koch worked three combined scoreless innings. At the plate Jimmy Herron, Hunter Stovall, and Coco Montes continued their strong starts. Montes went 2-for-5 with four RsBI. Connor Kaiser went 3-for-4 and Jonathan Morales went 2-for-4 with a double.
This was a fun one on offense, as Bladimir Restituyo and Hunter Goodman both continued their red hot starts with multi-hit, multi-RsBI games. Both Goodman and Restituyo slugged home runs, as did Julio Carreras. Pitching-wise it was equally a group effort but the standout performance belongs to Finn Del Bonta-Smith, who pitched two scoreless innings while only allowing one hit. Adam McKillican had a blown save due to allowing the single that allowed inherited runners to tie the game, but pitched a scoreless ninth for the win.
Less fun was the Spokane Indians giving up a stinker to the Emeralds. Indians starting pitcher Jaden Hill lasted just one inning after giving up six earned runs on four hits and two walks. Two of those hits were home runs. Cullen Kafka pitched admirably in long relief, working four innings but giving up another three runs. Juan Mejia, Anderson Bido, and Evan Shawver all pitched at least one shutout inning, and each reliever notched two strikeouts. The two Indians runs belonged to Braxton Fulford with his second home run of the season and Yanquiel Fernandez with an RBI single.
Inversely, the Fresno Grizzlies blew the Stockton Ports out of the water in devastating fashion. Starting pitcher Blake Adams gave up eight hits but only two earned runs over five innings of work while the bullpen took care of the rest and kept the Ports off the board. The 1-through-4 spots in the lineup of Andy Perez, Jake Snider, Kody Huff, and Robby Martin Jr all enjoyed multi-hit games. Huff went 2-for-6 with three RsBI, while Perez went 3-for-5 with three RsBI and a triple.
★ ★ ★
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