In what has been years in the making, the Colorado Rockies finally sold at the trade deadline instead of sitting on their hands. There have been numerous obvious candidates over the years for Colorado to ship out for spare parts, with one recurring name being 2022 All-Star C.J. Cron. Not only would moving Cron infuse the farm system with players that could play a part in the next window of contention, but his removal would also open space for an everlasting clog of corner-only prospects behind him to finally get some much-needed major league playing time.
Well, two weeks ago those wishes came true as Cron and Randall Grichuk were shipped to the Los Angeles Angels for minor league arms Mason Albright and Jake Madden. The results of the prospect return remain to be seen, however we are getting a better glimpse into the former part of the conversation; playing time for the younger players at the vacated 1B position. Specifically, Elehuris Montero and Michael Toglia.
It’s only been two weeks of consistent playing time, so a big grain of salt is necessary in this conversation. However, the overall results so far…well, they could certainly be better.
2023 Replacement 1B Stats
Montero and Toglia have spent plenty of time accumulating miles on their I-25 pass bouncing between Albuquerque and Colorado all season and have also spent time outside of the 1B position when they were in the big-league lineup. However, they are the two most apparent successors to Cron and their production with the bat has simply been lousy.
Of the 66 players with 50 or more plate appearances that qualify for the 1B leader board (with 10 or more games at the position) they rank 64th and 66th in FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement, with only José Abreu of the Houston Astros sandwiched between them. They each sport an astonishingly low individual wRC+ and carry the first and third-highest strikeout rates of any Rockies hitter with more than 32 plate appearances this year.
While that is a seasonal overview, it’s not as though their performances since the trade deadline have changed this bleak outlook. Montero is slashing .163/.196/.306 in 49 at-bats since the start of August while Toglia has a horrifying .116/.156/.140 line over 43 at-bats in that same time. Again, two weeks. But also two very unsightly weeks.
Struggles are to be expected, however. After all, that’s the whole point of giving the opportunity to these younger players – letting them gain valuable experience so they can make the necessary adjustments to hopefully lead them to becoming better contributors when winning becomes prioritized. But that does not mean Bud Black and the organization will let the position bottom-out indefinitely.
Hunter Goodman has been making waves since he joined the organization in 2021 and has already risen to the door-step of the majors. As a converted catcher, 1B has always seemed to be his positional home in the long-run, and if Montero or Toglia can’t produce it will make the decision to give Goodman a shot that much easier for the organization.
That lack of claim on the position also applies to players currently on the 40-man roster as Black has already recognized the option of pulling Kris Bryant from the outfield – where he has negative-8 defensive runs saved on the season according to Baseball Reference – and plugging him at 1B. A spot he has 32 career MLB games played already.
Kris Bryant: first baseman?— Patrick Lyons (@PatrickDLyons) August 16, 2023
With three young outfielders, a move to first may be viewed as beneficial for all.
“Potentially. Yeah,” #Rockies Bud Black said. “One of Kris’ advantages as a player - this is well documented when he was with the Cubs - is he played all over.”
Whether it is Bryant, Goodman or someone else, the current forces getting a look at the first base position are not putting up much of a fight right now. There are 42 games left in the season, so Montero or Toglia may still show an improvement that rewards management’s patience and keeps their names in the conversations moving forward. But the adjustments needed – namely converting the strikeouts into reaching base – simply have to start occurring in the final stretch of the season. If they don’t…both could quickly find themselves removed from the equation of Rockies’ future.
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Patrick Saunders gives his column responding to fans from Rockies fans. His feature response tackles the high-strikeout figures and how new hitting coach Hensley Meulens has fared in his first season with the team. He also touches on the possibility of a Kyle Freeland trade, manager Bud Black having to cope with a non-competitive roster and reflects on the fallout since the competitive window closed after 2018.
The post-game press conference after Colorado’s loss on Wednesday.
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On the Farm
Things started off well for the Isotopes, as Hunter Goodman stepped up with the bases loaded and drove his third Triple-A double to clear the bags to give Albuquerque a 4-2 lead after the first inning. That didn’t last long as El Paso put up a crooked eight runs in the second inning to bring the score to 10-4 before posting multiple runs in each of the next four innings, putting the game completely out of reach. Starter Ben Braymer surrendered nine runs and three home runs in 1 2⁄3 IP. Overall, the first four Albuquerque arms allowed six dingers and 24 hits in just the first six innings.
Warming Bernabel had a perfect evening at the plate for Hartford, who moved to 48-58 with their victory. Bernabel had three hits in three at-bats, with a run, RBI and walk. Grant Lavigne kicked-off the scoring with a three-run homer in the first inning, giving the Yard Goats a lead they would never surrender. Connor Van Scoyoc struck out seven with no walks issued in 4 2⁄3 IP before giving way to the bullpen. Austin Kitchen (who picked up the win), Nick Kuzia and Dylan Spain combined to throw 4 1⁄3 shutout innings out of the pen to lock-up the win.
Mason Green had a strong start at home, allowing just two runs over five innings. He departed with the score tied at two, but Tri-City was able to add runs in the sixth and eight innings — leading to a two run deficit heading into the ninth inning. But the Dust Devils crumbled late, issuing three walks and committing an error in the bottom of the ninth, setting the table for Juan Guerrero’s walk-off single to get Spokane their 53 win of the year.
The Grizzlies tallied their CAL League-best 66 win behind another great performance by Michael Prosecky and a late offensive surge. Prosecky twirled five shutout innings, striking out seven with just four hits and a walk allowed. He departed with the game still scoreless, but that didn’t last for long as Fresno posted five runs between the sixth and eighth innings before exploding for seven more in the ninth. Connor Messinger hit a solo shot in the eighth while Dyan Jorge, Andy Perez, Kody Huff and EJ Andrews Jr recorded multiple hits in the victory.
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