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The at-bat that defines the Rockies’ 2023 season (plus Pebble Report)

Colorado Rockies news and links for Monday, April 24, 2023

Ryan Feltner delivered a terrific performance on Thursday, tossing 5 ⅔ shutout innings against the Philadelphia Phillies to snap the Colorado Rockies’ eight-game losing streak. The club quickly fell into old habits, however, and dropped the rest of the series to start a new three-game skid before heading to Cleveland on Monday.

The final game of the series was a laugher, as the Phillies became the latest team to thump José Ureña around. But Noah Davis and Kyle Freeland delivered enough quality in their starts to make the middle games competitive affairs, even though Colorado ultimately lost both by a score of 4-3 each time.

Against the reigning National League champions, the series in a vacuum was not a total disappointment. But the Rockies have been a disappointment leading up to the matchup and now sit alone in the NL basement at 6-17.

There was little argument that the Rockies would be a good team heading into the season. But instead of the wheels falling off during the season – as many expected – it appears they were never assembled in the first place. The team doesn’t seem to have a prayer unless they get a dominant performance from their starter because the patchwork lineup of short-term veterans are not compensating for the learning moments experienced by some of the young players.

2023 Free Agent Hitters

Player PA TB OPS wRC+
Player PA TB OPS wRC+
Harold Castro 40 6 .308 -28
Mike Moustakas 43 12 .666 62
Jurickson Profar 88 23 .590 49

This leaves a no-win-scenario feeling in the fanbase, especially when it comes to the offense. The veteran additions are not contributing while the younger players are under-performing and losing trust because of it.

Bud Black is not in an enviable position, managing an underwhelming roster. But the sensible silver lining is for the team to lose with their young players, letting them gain valuable experience and learn on the job.

Unfortunately, that is not the way the organization sees it as Elehuris Montero has already been benched for his defensive play and holds a 38.9% strikeout-rate while Ezequiel Tovar is hitting just .191 in 20 games played – leading to at least whispered speculation about a demotion to Triple-A. It’s not good, but also not much worse than what they are getting from the newly-acquired veterans on the roster.

But the team is adamant on letting the veterans struggle on the field instead of their prospects. This perplexing perspective was never more evident than in game three against the Phillies on Saturday night.

Trailing by one entering the ninth inning, Ezequiel Tovar was set to lead-off against Philadelphia closer Craig Kimbrel. Tovar was clearly riding the struggle-bus heading into that appearance with just three hits in his last 33 at-bats. But instead of letting the young shortstop get his chance to spark a rally against a noteworthy reliever in a one-run game, Black pulled him in favor of Harold Castro…who was hitting .176 with no extra-base hits heading into the plate appearance.

To his credit, Castro provided a competitive plate appearance with a 1-0 line-out to CF that had a 101.9 mph exit velocity. But the substitution was indistinctive, pulling a potential cornerstone player in favor of an ineffective minor-league free agent. Neither appeared particularly likely to prevail in that situation on paper, but the benefit of one being given the opportunity far outweighed that of the other.

This is where the Rockies are at their most frustrating. The stop-gap veteran formula clearly is not working, yet the organization seems dedicated to it. And this is one area where real, tangible change needs to occur.

The performances of Harold Castro, Mike Moustakas, Jurickson Profar and José Ureña are not setting a high bar and are conceivably easy to replace. Larger opportunities for players like Montero, Alan Trejo, Nolan Jones, Noah Davis (after Germán Márquez returns from the IL) and Brenton Doyle — when his time comes — need to be prioritized as a result.

After all, when your team has a .261 winning-percentage and -54 run-differential, what do you have to lose?

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Saunders: Kris Bryant says he can be the quiet leader Rockies need right now | Denver Post ($)

Patrick Saunders interviews Kris Bryant on how he can help the Rockies turn their season around both as a player and as a mentor. After a lost 2022 season, Bryant has been adequate so far in 2023 but is getting paid to produce at a higher level than the one he is currently on. Additionally, Bryant is meant to be a leader of the team and plans to do so on more of an individual basis rather than as a rallying cheerleader for the entire clubhouse.

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Pebble Report: April 17-23, 2023

No Colorado affiliate posted a winning record this week, but all still sit at-or-above the .500 mark in the early part of the season.

There were a handful of top-performers, but none were more important than Brenton Doyle (No. 17 PuRP). Doyle hit the injured list last week but returned against Oklahoma City (LAD) to post monster numbers. In all, Doyle slashed .381/.480/.857 with three home runs and six runs scored and 18 total-bases in five games.

Not only will Doyle’s performance earn him serious consideration for Pacific Coast League Player of the Week (PoTW), but the good folks at Blake St. Banter report he is on the verge of earning a promotion to the big-league squad as soon as Monday.

Top 30 PuRPs

Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes (2-4, 11-10 overall)

Doyle’s return helped energize an Albuquerque lineup that has been centered all season by Nolan Jones. That remained that case again as Jones belted two more homers and 10 RBI against the Dodgers, bringing his season OPS to a hefty 1.228. Aaron Schunk also returned from injury, collecting two dingers of his own to go with a double.

The results on the mound were less encouraging. Karl Kauffmann (No. 23 PuRP) made two forgettable starts, allowing 13 runs on 16 hits in 9 13 innings. Jeff Criswell (HM PuRP) had another start, giving up seven runs in just 1 23 innings. In his last two starts, Criswell has allowed 19 runs and 18 hits in five innings. On the bright side, Riley Pint (HM PuRP) struck out seven in two scoreless appearances.

Double-A: Hartford Yard Goats (2-3, 7-7 overall)

Mike Ruff and Andrew Quezada delivered strong starts against Binghamton (NYM), each tossing four shutout innings against the Rumble Ponies. Chris McMahon (No. 15 PuRP) also went four innings in his outing, allowing just two runs in his best start of the young season.

At the plate, Julio Carreras (HM PuRP) led the Yard Goats with six knocks and tied for the team-lead with two doubles, but did leave with injury over the weekend. After a slow start, Drew Romo (No. 4 PuRP) started to click with five hits and four runs scored in four games. The series was less kind to Zac Veen (No. 2 PuRP) who was riding an 0-for-12 before leaving the team for personal reasons.

High-A: Spokane Indians (3-3, 6-6 overall)

Sterlin Thompson (No. 14 PuRP) sure has made this baseball thing look easy so far. Tri-City (LAA) was his latest victim as Thompson hit collected ten hits and a 1.196 OPS while scoring five runs in a series that should garner PoTW consideration. Thompson now has a .477/.519/.682 line 12 games with Spokane.

Not to be forgotten, Benny Montgomery (No. 5 PuRP) had a terrific week of his own, hitting his first home run of the season to go with a triple, tying Thompson with 13 TB. Gabriel Hughes (No. 8 PuRP) followed-up his spectacular debut with another terrific outing, allowing one earned run on three hits in five innings while punching-out seven. The best start of the week went to Victor Juarez (No. 22 PuRP), who pitched seven innings of one-run ball.

Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies (3-3, 8-7 overall)

While it was a tough week overall for the Fresno offense against Rancho Cucamonga (LAD), Ryan Ritter (HM PuRP) was a major bright spot. Ritter hit three bombs for the Grizzlies while scoring three runs and driving-in five. He finished the series with an impressive BB/K of 8/4. Jesus Bugarin added two home runs of his own but finished the series just 4-for-22.

Jordy Vargas (No. 10 PuRP) had an up-and-down outing, striking out eight to just one walk over six innings but with four runs allowed. 2022 draftee Michael Prosecky pitched five shutout innings in his start, but the gem of the week belonged to another member of last year’s draft class: Blake Adams. The 13th-round selection out of Kansas State did not disappoint in his second start of the season, dazzling for six shutout innings with just one hit allowed while striking out ten.

Week of 7/31-8/6 (Hitters)

Name PuRP Ranking Level H/AB HR BB SO SB
Name PuRP Ranking Level H/AB HR BB SO SB
Ezequiel Tovar 1 MLB N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Zac Veen 2 Double-A (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Adael Amador 3 High-A (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Drew Romo 4 Double-A 3/17 0 3 6 0
Benny Montgomery 5 High-A 3/19 1 3 7 0
Warming Bernabel 7 Double-A 4/19 0 2 4 0
Jordan Beck 9 Double-A 6/18 0 8 1 0
Yanquiel Fernandez 12 Double-A 4/9 0 0 3 0
Michael Toglia 13 MLB 9/28 0 5 7 1
Sterlin Thompson 14 High-A 4/20 0 2 7 3
Dyan Jorge 16 Low-A 3/21 0 1 3 0
Brenton Doyle 17 MLB N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Hunter Goodman 19 Double-A 3/12 1 1 4 0
Grant Lavigne 20 Double-A 5/22 1 3 12 0
Julio Carreras 24 Double-A 6/23 0 1 4 1
Ryan Ritter HM High-A 7/19 0 0 10 0
Aaron Schunk HM Triple-A 3/17 0 1 6 0

Week of 9/11-9/17 (Pitchers)

Name PuRP Ranking Level G/GS IP R/ER BB SO
Name PuRP Ranking Level G/GS IP R/ER BB SO
Jaden Hill 6 High-A (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Gabriel Hughes 8 Double-A (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Jordy Vargas 10 Low-A (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Joe Rock 11 Double-A 1/1 5.0 0/0 1 10
Chris McMahon 15 Double-A (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Ryan Rolison 18 Triple-A (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Sam Weatherly 21 High-A (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Victor Juarez 22 High-A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Karl Kauffmann 23 Triple-A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Jackson Cox 25 Low-A (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Case Williams 26 Double-A 1/1 2.2 7/6 3 3
Helcris Olivarez 29 Triple-A (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Carson Palmquist 28 Double-A 1/1 6.0 1/1 2 5
Noah Davis 29 MLB N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
McCade Brown 30 TBA (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Gavin Hollowell HM MLB N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Jeff Criswell HM Triple-A 1/1 5 3/3 3 6
Riley Pint HM Triple-A 2/0 3 0/0 3 5

Season to Date (Hitters)

Name PuRP Ranking Level H/AB HR BB SO SB
Name PuRP Ranking Level H/AB HR BB SO SB
Ezequiel Tovar 1 MLB N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Zac Veen 2 Double-A (IL) 36/172 2 23 43 22
Adael Amador 3 Double-A (IL) 78/255 12 37 32 14
Drew Romo 4 Double-A 83/327 13 29 67 6
Benny Montgomery 5 High-A 110/438 10 52 135 18
Warming Bernabel 7 Double-A 68/302 6 15 68 2
Jordan Beck 9 Double-A 132/487 25 73 142 20
Yanquiel Fernandez 12 Double-A 127/479 25 32 132 1
Michael Toglia 13 Triple-A 79/308 16 53 82 3
Sterlin Thompson 14 Double-A 104/355 14 38 74 17
Dyan Jorge 16 Low-A 56/198 0 13 35 10
Brenton Doyle 17 MLB 15/49 5 8 19 1
Hunter Goodman 19 MLB 83/348 25 41 98 0
Grant Lavigne 20 Double-A 101/445 17 77 142 4
Julio Carreras 24 Double-A 73/311 5 33 81 13
Ryan Ritter HM Double-A 124/441 24 62 152 20
Aaron Schunk HM Triple-A 126/439 14 42 116 12

Season to Date (Pitchers)

Name PuRP Ranking Level G/GS IP R/ER BB SO
Name PuRP Ranking Level G/GS IP R/ER BB SO
Jaden Hill 6 High-A (IL) 16/16 43.2 47/46 25 57
Gabriel Hughes 8 Double-A (IL) 14/14 66.2 51/46 26 83
Jordy Vargas 10 Low-A (IL) 13/13 64.0 35/30 24 69
Joe Rock 11 Double-A 19/19 90.0 53/45 32 108
Chris McMahon 15 Double-A (IL) 15/15 67.0 48/44 25 66
Ryan Rolison 18 Triple-A (IL) 4/4 11.0 11/11 6 9
Sam Weatherly 21 High-A (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Victor Juarez 22 High-A 20/20 91.2 66/65 35 94
Karl Kauffmann 23 Triple-A 18/18 86.1 70/65 38 60
Jackson Cox 25 Low-A (IL) 10/9 31.0 27/25 20 32
Case Williams 26 Double-A 23/23 101.2 87/80 51 79
Helcris Olivarez 29 Triple-A (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Carson Palmquist 28 Double-A 19/19 92.1 44/40 37 134
Noah Davis 29 MLB 14/14 56.0 33/29 33 48
McCade Brown 30 TBA (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Gavin Hollowell HM MLB 19/0 23.1 9/9 10 27
Jeff Criswell HM Triple-A 28/25 116 103/100 69 130
Riley Pint HM Triple-A 45/0 55.2 42/38 54 81

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Upcoming Schedule

Triple-A Albuquerque: 4/25-4/30 @ Round Rock (TEX)

Double-A Hartford: 4/25-4/30 @ New Hampshire (TOR)

High-A Spokane: 4/25-4/30 vs Everett (SEA)

Low-A Fresno: 4/25-4/30 vs San Jose (SF)

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