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Five takeaways from the Colorado Rockies’ Opening Series (plus Pebble Report)

Colorado Rockies news and links for Monday, April 3, 2023

An annual tradition, the Colorado Rockies kicked-off the new season on the road – this time against the San Diego Padres. Even though they only split the four-game set, it was ultimately a successful road trip against an opponent that many believe can challenge for a World Series ring.

Four games is a very small sample – especially considering Colorado dodged San Diego’s top arms (Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish) – but enough to give an initial impression. With that in mind, let’s look at some key takeaways from Colorado’s opening series.

Cron Crushin’

A lesson in how important how Spring Training stats are, C.J. Cron walked in to San Diego after a .212/.297/.394 spring and promptly put it into gear with three home runs and seven RBI in a 7-for-11 road series.

After exiting camp with concerns about his back spasms, Cron’s performance surely put some minds at rest. Leading the league in HR and OPS will do that.

Veteran presence in the lineup

Cron was clearly a focal point of the offense, but he wasn’t the only tenured big leaguer producing. Charlie Blackmon and Kris Bryant each carried their weight in the order, combining to slug four extra-base hits and seven runs scored.

The trio of Blackmon, Bryant and Cron went 20-for-47 with four homers, five doubles, 11 RBI and scored 10 of Colorado’s 16 runs in the series. They gave the Rockies a formidable middle-of-the-order, something the club will heavily rely upon moving forward.

Not the best from the rest

While Blackmon, Bryant and Cron were cooking at the dish, there was little support around them. Elehuris Montero provided the most reinforcement, going back-to-back with Cron on Opening Day for one of his four hits. But he also raised some red flags with eight strikeouts in his 16 at-bats.

But as a whole, the lineup around the big three posted an uninspiring .170 average and 25.5% strikeout-rate. Take away Montero and that average drops to .154. No player exemplified the struggles more than Yonathan Daza, who scuffled to a .352 OPS and three total bases in 17 plate appearances.

Four games is not enough to form a pattern, but more is certainly expected from the rest of the lineup.

Promising performances from the top of the rotation

It’s no surprise that Colorado’s first two wins stem from terrific performances on the mound from their top two pitchers — Germán Márquez and Kyle Freeland.

Márquez got the ball for his team-record third Opening Day start and earned the first win, limiting the Padres to two runs in six innings. He punched out five Padres hitters without issuing a walk and displayed impressive stuff on the mound, averaging 96.2 MPH on his four-seam fastball and a 60% Whiff% with his slider.

For Freeland, the process was not as loud but was more effective. He only struck out one in his start, but that was inconsequential as he shut-out the Padres for six innings. San Diego was unable to barrel a single one of Freeland’s 74 pitches and finished with just three hits against the Colorado lefty. To top it off, Freeland also provided an early play-of-the-year candidate.

A clear drop-off from the top

The Rockies had an inspired first two games, leading to the first two wins of the season. But there was a forceful brake to the momentum in game three, as the Rockies fell into a 4-0 hole before recording nine outs. The initial damage came against José Ureña, who surrendered four of the eight San Diego runs scored in the game on five hits and four walks in just 2 ⅓ innings.

The Rockies were able to get back into the game after some serviceable long-relief by Ty Blach, but the comeback flat-lined after Dinelson Lamet struggled to three walks and two runs allowed in his second relief appearance.

Austin Gomber finished with a more-inspiring performance on Sunday, but had little run support behind and took the loss despite providing a quality start. That quality start was in jeopardy in third inning, where he gave up all three runs in a frame that consisted of three hits — two leaving the park — and a wild pitch. He was able to prevent the game from getting out-of-hand, but for Gomber to stick in the rotation he will need to continue avoiding the big innings like he did in his first start.

Top-heavy may be the best way to summarize the Rockies’ first series of the season. C.J. Cron carried the lineup to an Opening Day victory, and combined with Charlie Blackmon and Kris Bryant to be the offensive punch in the series. But the lineup dropped off significantly after those three, and the same sentiment applies to the pitching staff after stellar performances from Germán Márquez and Kyle Freeland.

It provides a morsel of evidence for skeptics of the depth of the roster. This is arguably best exemplified by the fact that the Rockies were the only team to play with 25 players (one below the active roster limit) in the first two games while waiting for Jurickson Profar to get up-to-speed after a late arrival.

Regardless, the top-end talent led Colorado to their first two victories of the season but could only carry them so far. It was just one series, but that could be a theme this season.

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Rockies Notes: Profar, Bard, Hollowell | MLB Trade Rumors

In MLB Trade Rumors’ compilation of recent Rockies news, Jurickson Profar provided some insight into new hitting coach Hensley Meulens’ influence in his decision to join the Rockies and Bud Black gave an update on Daniel Bard, reporting that the closer reached 96 MPH in his recent bullpen.

But the biggest news comes from Danielle Allentuck of the Denver Gazette, who reports that reliever Gavin Hollowell was placed on the 10-day minor league IL with forearm tightness.

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Pebble Report: March 31 - April 2, 2023

The minor league season had a soft-opening, with Triple-A starting games a week before the rest of the full-season season affiliates. The Albuquerque Isotopes began their season on the road against Round Rock (TEX), taking two-of-three games in their opening series.

Top 30 PuRPs

Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes (2-1, 2-1 overall)

After a tough spring that resulted in missing the cut for the MLB Opening Day roster, Nolan Jones made a loud Isotopes debut, going 5-for-13 with three home runs and six RBI in his first regular season action in the Rockies organization.

Brenton Doyle (No. 17 PuRP) carried-over his hot spring to the ‘Topes, clubbing a 438-foot homer while also drawing three walks and scoring four runs. Aaron Schunk (HM PuRP) had a memorable Triple-A debut, joining Doyle and Jones as one of six Isotopes to homer in the series.

On the mound, Noah Davis (No. 29 PuRP) and Karl Kauffmann (No. 23 PuRP) struggled with control in their first starts of the year. The two combined to allow seven runs on 11 hits with six walks in seven innings. New acquisition Jeff Criswell (HM PuRP) earned his first win with the Colorado organization, striking out five in 3 23 scoreless innings in relief.

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: 4/3-4/9 vs Salt Lake (LAA)

Double-A Hartford: 4/6-4/8 vs Bowie (BAL)

High-A Spokane: 4/7-4/9 @ Vancouver (TOR)

Low-A Fresno: 4/6-4/8 @ San Jose (SF)

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