After nearly 150 years and over 20,000 players donning a uniform in Major League Baseball, not a single one has ever been named “Skyler.” This fact is not lost on me as my name is Skyler, so I garner much hope for a prospect down with the Fresno Grizzlies aiming to change that fact.
Drafted in the 19th round of the 2022 draft out of the University of Texas by the Colorado Rockies, Skyler Messinger has exploded in Low-A Fresno this season to turn himself into a legitimate prospect worthy of recognition.
Road to the Draft
The Boulder, CO native spent a productive four seasons of his college career with the University of Kansas Jayhawks, but not enough to garner draft interest in 2021 despite having his best season to that point. Aiming for a change of scenery to help his odds, the kid that grew up a Rockies fan transferred to Texas where his favorite player growing up happened to be a volunteer assistant; Troy Tulowitzki.
The decision paid off for the 6’3, 220-pounder, who had an outstanding season deep in the heart of Texas after making a swing-plane adjustment, resulting in a .364 AVG, a career-high, and hitting 11 home runs, almost double the amount of home runs he hit in his entire time with the Jayhawks, all thanks to a swing-plane adjustment.
His efforts resulted in the Rockies deciding to scoop him up late in the draft and sending him to the Arizona Complex League. In a brief 10 games, Messinger hit .375/.423/.375 with three RBI and four runs scored. It was just the beginning for Messinger as good things awaited him in Fresno.
Don’t Mess(inger) with Skyler
The first two months of the 2023 season showed that there was still room to grow for the 24-year-old third baseman. By the beginning of June, Messinger had a .210 AVG and an OPS around .700, showing that he has an excellent eye to get on base, and there were hints of power, but something yet untapped.
Working with coaches, and maintaining an incredible work ethic, Messinger made an adjustment to his batting stance, standing more upright. The results have been undeniable. After batting .311/.429/.432 in the month of June, Messinger had raised his season batting line to .254/.377/.391 with five home runs and 33 RBI. Then July happened.
All of a sudden, the new batting stance and approach helped Messinger tap into the power reserves. In the month of July, he batted .326/.414/.744 with eight home runs and 28 RBI to earn himself MiLB Player of the Month honors for the Rockies organization.
Congrats to Angel Chivilli and Skyler Messinger for earning MiLB Player and Pitcher of the Month honors! pic.twitter.com/ipAIit9iKU— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) August 4, 2023
That effort to improve is one of the best aspects of Messinger. Stephen Rice, the play-by-play broadcaster for the Grizzlies, gave an analysis of Messinger in an interview I did with him that you can find at the bottom of this article.
“You know, when you talk about these players, especially at the big league level, you go ‘how are these players so successful?’ Yeah, they have the talent. ” Rice said, “...you don’t see their work ethic off the diamond and you talk to every single coaching staff member of the Grizzlies and they say, ‘Skyler Messinger is the hardest working player in the clubhouse, in the weight room, on the field.’”
Rice went on to explain an analogy about Messinger’s mentality and approach to the game of baseball. He alluded to the fact that there are two types of people in a classroom every year. There are those that sit at the front of the classroom and those that sit in the back. Rice remembered that in college, the athletes typically sat in the back of the classroom. That’s not how Messinger operates.
“Skyler Messinger is the front-of-the-classroom kind of guy. He’s at the front of the bus. He’s the first guy to always listen to see what’s going on. He’s a ‘Yes, sir, let me make sure I get this done’ kind of guy, and the attitude and how good he is as a person matches how he is as a player.”
That mentality leads him to work as hard as he can, even during off days, when others are off relaxing and enjoying the day, you can find him lifting and working out and playing basketball.
“When people say that baseball is life or ball is life, he really does live by that mantra,” said Rice.
Despite being on the older side as a prospect, Messinger should see a rapid ascension through the system. As of Tuesday, Messinger is batting .283/.387/.513 with 38 extra base hits, including 16 home runs, and leads the league with 73 RBI. Additionally, his discipline at the plate has resulted in 94 strikeouts and 49 walks and has been a huge reason why the Grizzlies are surging toward another playoff appearance.
Rockies fans should pay close attention to Skyler Messinger. He may not be a big, flashy, prospect but he’s the definition of a grinder that can defy the odds and contribute. I hope to see his continued progress and that the Rockies are quick to promote him in his development because he has much to offer.
You can catch the entirety of my conversation with Stephen Rice below. Beyond Messinger, we also touch on Jordan Beck, Sterlin Thompson, Michael Prosecky, and Cole Carrigg among other things. It’s an interesting interview from the perspective of an individual tasked with telling the stories of the prospects night after night.
In the third part of The Colorado Sun’s mini-series on the Rockies' history of losing, John Ingold talks about the greatest challenge/excuse for why the team has seemingly always struggled. It’s a bit more simplified approach to talking about altitude, but it’s an interesting and insightful read full of solid information and quotes. It’s best summarized in this ending quote “So maybe altitude is the answer to the question of why the Rockies can’t win. Or maybe it’s just a convenient fall guy. A patsy. A cover story for a team still trying to find its way more than three decades after coming into being.”
Montero had a decent homestand last week, and a reason for that has been working on one aspect of his swing that he has struggled with. Working with hitting coach Hensley Meulens, Montero has worked on keeping his head movement consistent and controlled in an effort to help his vision and approach at the plate.
On the Farm
Hunter Goodman just keeps on hitting home runs as he belted two more to bring his Albuquerque total to seven as part of a two hit night where he drove in four runs. Coco Montes also had a pair of hits while Wynton Bernard just keeps hitting with another three hits at the top of the lineup. Connor Seabold started the game and allowed three runs on six hits in 4 2⁄3 innings, followed by Nick Mears allowing three runs in 1 1⁄3 innings. The rest of the bullpen arms then locked it down by allowing one hit across three scoreless innings.
Connor Van Scoyoc turned in a fantastic start, tossing seven shutout innings allowing just three hits. Unfortunately, the Yard Goats would surrender a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 10th to lose the game. Grant Lavigne was the only player with multiple hits, going 2-for-4.
It was a strong night for pitching as both teams managed nine scoreless innings to force extra innings. Jarrod Cande started on the mound for Spokane allowing three hits over seven innings with seven strikeouts. Cullen Kafka and Luis Amoroso combined for two clean innings. Spokane took the lead in the top of the 10th thanks to a Nic Kent sacrifice bunt that scored a run. Unfortunately, Angel Chivilli ended up giving up a walk-off double to lose the game. In total, the Spokane offense managed just two hits.
Gabriel Barbosa managed five innings for Fresno, but gave up six runs on six hits, including two home runs. The bullen locked it down the rest of the way but despite nine hits, Fresno couldn’t get any runs across after the first inning. Cole Carrigg went 3-for-4 out the leadoff spot and Kody Huff had a pair of hits including a double.
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