The Rockies made it official on Friday:
The Rockies announced today that they have recalled INF/OF Nolan Jones from Triple-A Albuquerque and have optioned INF/OF Michael Toglia to Triple-A.— Rockies Club Information (@RockiesClubInfo) May 26, 2023
(Although, to be fair, our friends at Blake Street Banter first dropped the news on Thursday night.)
This call-up was one Rockies fans had clamored for given that Jones was absolutely decimating Albuquerque (182 wRC+) after struggling mightily in spring training — as in having one of the highest strikeout rates in MLB. Still, for a Rockies team that has struggled to find its swing, Jones seemed like the slugger to provide some offensive spark.
With this in mind, it’s worth considering his first series with the Rockies. (Yes, he was called up when the Rockies played Seattle, but since he never actually was allowed to play, that one doesn’t count.)
But what was Jones’ first series with the Rockies like, and what might it suggest for the future?
Friday: Day 1
The press eagerly waited for Nolan Jones to arrive at his place in the clubhouse as they waited to get some initial reaction from the Rockies’ newest player. He then got to answer a range of questions typically asked of new players.
How did he get ready for the 2023 season? This year, he tried a different approach.
“I think I just I changed my preparation prior to this year,” Jones said. “Working with some people that I trust, I was able to work on some things and create a routine that has helped me feel more comfortable in the box and more locked in.
“So far, it’s working,” he explained. “I feel like I’m able to stay on more pitches and drive the ball a little bit better.”
Jones also answered questions about his swing adjustments given his lanky build.
“I’m focusing on my direction,” he said. “I’ve got long limbs. In the past I’ve struggled a bit with swing-and-miss. I walk a lot, but there’s a lot of swing-and-miss there, too. So something I really focused on this offseason was trying to eliminate that as much as I could.”
He arrived at Coors Field unsure of how the Rockies would use him.
“I’m not really sure what to expect,” Jones said, indicating that the Rockies would make the most of his offensive versatility. He added, “I’ve kind of played all the corners and feel pretty comfortable at all of them,” Jones said.
Still, he was just happy to be there. “This is a new opportunity and I’m excited to get going,” Jones said.
For his first game, the Rockies elected to put him at first base.
And then what happened?
To be honest, the first game was not good.
In three at-bats, he struck out twice but walked once. That was erased, however, due to a base-running error that saw him thrown out at second.
Defensively, it was worse. He hit Brandon Nimmo in the back with the baseball when attempting to turn a double play.
End of Game 1: .000/.250/.000; OPS: .250
Saturday: Day 2
Prior to Saturday’s game, Jones acknowledged it wasn’t really the start he wanted.
“I’m excited,” he said, “but I had a little bit of a rough start yesterday.”
He admitted, “the jitters were there.”
He’d also learned from his previous day, something facilitated by his position in the infield.
“[Alan] Trejo yesterday was able to help me position myself in different spots when when I was maybe in the wrong spot, or he saw something on a swing that I didn’t see,” Jones said. “So kind of being able to work with each other and help each other definitely is definitely helps us.”
He also sought the advice of CJ Cron: “Yesterday, I made a made a mistake at first base. I was able to come in and talk to CJ to talk through it and, hopefully, prevent that next time.”
Then there are just those little moments that help a new player settle in.
On Friday, the Rockies had been celebrating 90s Day with decade-appropriate music on heavy rotation, and Jones was listening and vibing. During a conversation with DNVR’s Patrick Lyons — Jones did not yet have a walk-up song — he realized that he could use Rod Wave’s “Yungen,” So he did.
Then, the hitting began.
Here’s his first hit and RBI with the Rockies — off Justin Verlander, no less:
Of getting that first hit, Jones said, “it’s huge,” adding, “[s]ometimes that’s all it takes to gain a little confidence.”
In four at-bats, he had two hits, two RBI, and one run. He only struck out once. Not bad.
End of Game 2: .286/.375/.429; OPS: .804
Sunday: Day 3
In Game 3, Jones seemed to reach a middle ground. His play was solid but unremarkable. (And after hitting Brandon Nimmo in the back with a throw on Friday, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.)
He went one for four with an single, and his defensive play was solid.
End of Game 3: .273/.333/.364; OPS: .697
For Jones, this is all part of the process.
“It’s a learning game,” he said, “and it always will be, so I’m just trying to learn throughout it.”
After three games, he has a wRC+ of 78. This is all, clearly, in small sample size territory, but it shows a player with potential who’s willing to learn.
Now, the Rockies need to give him an opportunity to keep growing.
Coors Field Attendance
According to ESPN, 789,865 have attended games at Coors Field in 2023 (the end of the Mets series and the Rockies’ 29th home game). That number ranks 17th in baseball. The average Coors Field game attendance is 27,236. (Last week, the average attendance was 27,052.)
As a benchmark, in 2022, the average game attendance at Coors Field was 32,467.
Thomas Harding spoke with 31-year-old reliever Matt Carasiti about his return to the Rockies. After pitching for the Rockies and other MLB teams, he prepared to leave baseball and set up a coaching facility. Then Carasiti contacted Chris Forbes about a coach job with the Yard Goats when the conversation took a turn: “He was like, ‘Why don’t you just come into camp, fight for a spot in Albuquerque and see what happens,” Carasiti said. “My wife said, ‘We should do it.’” And now he’s back with the Rockies reviving a dream.
Okay, this isn’t Rockies-related, but it’s an interesting story — and as a “Succession” fan, I felt compelled to pass it along. Turns out the television character Tom Wambsgans shares a last name (albeit with a different spelling) with a baseball player who, in 1920, turned the World Series’ only unassisted triple play. (It’s a fascinating story.)
Lotta traffic on Bill Wambsganss page right now.— Sean Forman (@sean_forman) May 29, 2023
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