On Monday. April 5th, 1993, the Colorado Rockies took the field for the first time. At Shea Stadium against Doc Gooden and the New York Mets, Alexander Cole Jr. took his place batting second in the lineup and playing center field. He wore no. 5 on his gray road uniform, wore his notable recreational spectacles, and lined out to right fielder Bobby Bonilla in the second-ever Rockies at-bat.
Multiple outlets announced on Saturday morning that Alex Cole—the first ever Rockies Opening Day center fielder—had passed away at the age of 58.
Originally selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the second round of the 1985 amateur draft, Cole spent five seasons in the Cardinals farm system. He made it as high as Triple-A in 1989, but never made his big-league debut with the team that drafted him. Cole was traded in January 1990 to the San Diego Padres, and then to the Cleveland Indians in July of that same year.
With the trade came his big-league shot. A slap-hitting speedster who was electric on the bases, Cole finished his rookie campaign hitting .300/.379/.357 with 13 RBI, five doubles, and four triples while stealing 40 bases in 49 attempts. He also exhibited strong plate discipline by drawing 28 walks to just 38 strikeouts on his way to a ninth place finish in Rookie of the Year voting.
Cole played over two seasons in Cleveland, hitting .284/.370/.336 with 76 stolen bases during his tenure there. Although he under-performed in 1992, he was traded at the deadline to a Pittsburgh Pirates team looking to make a playoff push. He became a regular in the Pirates’ lineup, working mostly in right field while appearing in 64 games. Cole posted a .278 batting average and a .335 on-base percentage with seven stolen bases and a whopping seven triples as the Pirates surged to capture first place in their division. Unfortunately they, fell to the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS with Cole going 2-for-10 in the series.
The newly-minted Colorado Rockies selected Alex Cole with the 17th overall pick in the 1992 MLB expansion draft. Cole was the third outfielder selected by the team with Jerald Clark and Kevin Reimer being selected before him. Clark would become the nascent franchise’s primary left fielder, while Reimer was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers for a right fielder named Dante Bichette. Cole took the role of starting center fielder to complete the Rockies’ inaugural outfield.
Cole played 126 games for the 1993 Rockies, hitting .256/.339/.305 in 399 plate appearances. He drove in 24 RBI, hit four triples, and walked 43 times to 58 strikeouts. He also turned on the jets for 30 stolen bases in 43 attempts, which would become the second highest mark in his career after his rookie season.
Cole became a free agent at the end of the 1993 season. He moved on to play two seasons with the Minnesota Twins from 1994 to 1995, and a season with the Boston Red Sox in 1996. After his season with the Red Sox, Cole would not make another major league appearance. However, he continued playing professional baseball in 2001 with various independent teams in addition to two seasons in Mexico.
Although his time in Colorado was brief, Alex Cole is an important part of the Rockies’ legacy. We here at Purple Row send our condolences to the family and friends of the first Rockies center fielder.
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In an excellent piece, Thomas Harding of MLB.com describes what hitting coach Hensley “Bam Bam” Muelens and veteran Charlie Blackmon are doing to rally their incredibly young group of position players. Bam Bam Muelens held an open meeting with the rookies to discuss not just their approach and to for them to hear input from the team’s veterans, but also to discuss their feelings, hopes, and fears.
After struggling in his last few outings, veteran reliever Tyler Kinley has landed back on the injured list with right elbow inflammation. Kinley returned to the team this month after more than a year away following right elbow surgery. Tommy Doyle was recalled to take his spot on the roster. Meanwhile, top prospect Adael Amador will rehab in Arizona before returning to the Double-A Spokane Indians from the IL.
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Pebble Report: August 14th-20th
Our Rockies midseason PuRPs prospect rankings are starting to take shape!
Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes (4-2, 50-70 overall)
Starting pitcher Jeff Criswell was the surprise star of the Isotopes’ week against the El Paso Chihuahuas (SDP). Criswell made two starts and allowed just two earned runs in a combined 13 2⁄3 innings. He was particularly impressive in the Sunday series finale in which he pitched 7 2⁄3 innings and gave up just one earned run. He struck out eight batters and walked only two. The hope is that this signals a turning point in what has been a difficult season for the 24-year old righty. Hunter Goodman cooled off somewhat, going 6-for-25 with three doubles and a home run while going hitless in seven at-bats over the final two games.
Double-A: Hartford Yard Goats (3-4, 50-61 overall)
It was a strong week for Sterlin Thompson, who went 11-for-26 in the Yard Goats’ seven games against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (TOR). Thompson had a home run in each of the last three games of the series, including two on August 18th. Thompson is hitting .318/.412/.659 since his promotion to Double-A earlier this month. Bladimir Restituyo also enjoyed a solid week, going 9-for-17 with home runs in three straight games from August 18th through the 20th.
High-A: Spokane Indians (3-1, 54-57 overall)
The final two games of the Indians’ series against the Tri-City Dust Devils (LAA) were cancelled due to the effects of wild fires in the area. However, they kicked off the set with a 14-1 demolition of the Dust Devils. Ryan Ritter hit 7-for-14 in the four games played with two home runs. Victor Juárez pitched a gem on August 18th in which he struck out 9 batters over six innings while only giving up two earned runs. Anderson Pilar made his first start for the Indians on the 15th and made a strong impression. Pilar worked for a season high six innings with seven strikeouts while yielding just one earned run in the series opener.
Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies (3-3, 68-46 overall)
Cole Carrigg hit the ground running in his first series with the Grizzlies by going 12-for-21 in five games against the Modesto Nuts (SEA), including three triples in one night on August 19th. Michael Prosecky stood out among the starting pitchers with a five inning shutout start on the 16th in which he struck out seven batters. Reliever Zach Agnos continues to pitch well with the Grizzlies. He earned his third win of the season in two innings of relief on the 18th and carries a strong 2.44 ERA into the next set.
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Week of 9/11-9/17 (Hitters)
|Zac Veen||2||Double-A (IL)||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
Week of 8/14-8/20 (Pitchers)
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Triple-A Albuquerque: 8/22-8/27 @ Oklahoma City (LAD)
Double-A Hartford: 8/22-8/27 @ Somerset (NYY)
High-A Spokane: 8/22-8/27 @ Vancouver (TOR)
Low-A Fresno: 8/22-8/27 vs Stockton (OAK)
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