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So…when will Kris Bryant become a factor? (plus Pebble Report)

Colorado Rockies news and links for Monday, August 7, 2023

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The Colorado Rockies just finished a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals, an unofficial rival who is also enduring a miserable 2023 season. The Rockies took two of the three games against the Redbirds, with the series clincher coming from six shutout innings from Austin Gomber on Sunday.

I tab the Cardinals as the “unofficial rivals” of Colorado because they employ a third baseman that is still symbolic of the Rockies franchise and quite divisive amongst their fans. For most, it is not unknown that Gomber’s performance on Sunday is notable because it was not only against his former club, but because he has had to live and perform in the shadow of the trade that brought him and others to Colorado for franchise star Nolan Arenado.

“I’m kinda searching for (my own identity) right now,” Gomber said. “In the past, I tried not to worry about (being attached to Arenado), and I think I was better at that earlier on when I was here. But the longer I’ve been here (the harder it gets). Because when (the trade) first happened, I didn’t understand the magnitude of it here.

“So I’m trying to keep those thoughts out of my head and not trying to put pressure on myself when I don’t need to. I’m not trying to be (Arenado). I’m just trying to be myself, but I feel like I’m having a hard time staying in that lane right now.”

Good for Gomber, honestly. It was a solid performance for a team aching for any semblance of consistency from the starting rotation. The Cardinals, however, are not a formidable opponent this season. So Gomber delivering a fine start against a team in a hole as deep as Colorado’s not very noteworthy outside of sentimental reasons.

But what is noteworthy is who was not on the field for the Rockies during the series; Kris Bryant.

It’s a poorly kept secret that the Colorado Rockies signed Kris Bryant to a seven-year, $182MM contract after the lockout in March of 2022 to replace Arenado as the face of the franchise. The fallout from the Arenado trade left an immediate stain on the franchise that was obvious from external observation, yet bafflingly unexpected from management’s insular point of view. That trickled to Jon Gray and Trevor Story voluntarily disembarking from the franchise via free agency, leading the organization to aimlessly wander without any marketable identity.

Enter Bryant, who had a star-caliber resume after sprinting to a hall of fame-worthy start to his career during his first five seasons. By the time he left his original club, the Chicago Cubs, and found his way to Colorado, it was evident his best days were behind him. But the organization was dedicated to making him the new poster boy for the franchise, which had some semblance of at least a direction for the franchise at the time.

Two years later, and it has not gone well.

Eleven months ago, I wrote about the first season of the Bryant contract being unprecedented in a negative way. It hasn’t improved much since then and, to his name as a member of the Colorado Rockies, as he has barely produced just over 100 games in almost two years.

He was absent in the most recent series against the Cardinals and has only taken the field against the player he “replaced” in two games so far – going 3-for-9 with three singles, one run scored and two strikeouts against St. Louis in April of this year. It was an unremarkable performance, which best describes Bryant’s time in Colorado.

Not only has Bryant missed more games than he has played in his tenure with the Rockies, but when he has played he has only produced at a league-average clip with his 102 OPS+ and -0.1 Baseball Reference wins above replacement. All at an average annual salary of $26MM...with five more years remaining.

Nevermind that he is not Nolan Arenado – that was always an unrealistic expectation. Nevermind that he hasn’t even been a qualified hitter in his first two years or that it took him over a year to hit his first home run at Coors Field. Ultimately, Bryant has simply just not been anywhere near worth his contract to this point.

It’s not resentment that leads to this, but objectivity. Kris Bryant’s tenure so far has been a failure, with little production to show for a franchise that seems to now be building beside him rather than around him. There are five more years to go after this, so it’s not over yet. But the more time he misses and the more mediocre his production is when he is on the field, the harder the rationale for his acquisition is to justify.

★ ★ ★

Austin Gomber leads Rockies to first series win in St. Louis since 2009 | The Denver Post

Patrick Saunders surmises the Rockies first road series win against the Cardinals since 2009, emphasizing on Gomber’s six shutout innings in Sunday’s game.

“For me, it will always be a big game, to have an opportunity to pitch here and try to pitch well,” Gomber said. “Today was the first time I have pitched well here, as a visitor. So there were some emotions, for sure. I wanted to win.”

Is it time to be worried about Daniel Bard? | Purple Row

In case you missed it, Evan Lang dove in to Daniel Bard’s recent struggles on Friday.

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Pebble Report: July 31 - August 6, 2023

After last week’s rash of Tommy John surgeries across the system, the health of the Colorado Rockies farm system was in the news once again this past week. Jaden Hill (No. 6 PuRP) was removed in the first inning of his start because of lower back tight, raising alarms throughout the organization. The hope is the injury is minor, however it certainly comes at a precarious time. In more optimistic news, Helcris Oliveraz (No. 29 PuRP) began throwing from the mound for the first time after undergoing shoulder surgery last year. Farm director Chris Forbes indicated Olivarez may be in a position to hit the ground running as a reliever as soon as this fall.

Top 30 PuRPs

Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes (2-4, 46-62 overall)

The Isotopes pitching staff struggled as a whole at home against Las Vegas (OAK), but Karl Kauffmann (No. 23 PuRP) put together a strong start despite the staff’s woes. Kauffmann finished one out away from six innings, allowing just one run while striking out three. Out of the bullpen, Nick Kennedy tossed three scoreless innings over two appearances. Hunter Stovall was the star in the batter’s box for Albuquerque, hitting two home runs as part of a team-high eight hits, nine RBI week. Daniel Montano also hit two bombs at finished with a 1.060 OPS.

Double-A: Hartford Yard Goats (1-5, 42-56 overall)

It was tough week for the Yard Goats at home against Reading (PHI). The offense was unable to generate much potency, however there were a few highlights. Jordan Beck (No. 9 PuRP) posted a healthy .333/.538/.444 slash-line and drew an impressive eight walks to just one strikeout while knocking a pair of doubles. Yanquiel Fernandez (No. 12 PuRP) returned from injury to knock two doubles as well, collecting four hits in total in nine at-bats. On the bump, Andrew Quezada was the only starter to allow fewer than five runs. He cleared that bar easily, shutting out Reading over 5 23 IP.

High-A: Spokane Indians (2-4, 48-53 overall)

Nic Kent had a terrific week in Everett (SEA), clocking three home runs with six runs scored and a robust .696 SLG%. Sean Bouchard returned to game action, going 6-for-18 in five games with a homer and two doubles. Carson Palmquist (No. 28 PuRP) continued his brilliant season with six innings of one-run ball against the Aqua Sox, striking out nine. Palmquist now has an eye-catching 96 strikeouts in 64 IP, fifth-most in the Northwest League this season.

Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies (5-1, 63-39 overall)

Fresno’s magical season continued at home, taking five-of-six against Rancho Cucamonga (LAD). Jesus Bugarin slashed .389/.421/.556 in five games, hitting a homer and scoring five runs. The backbone for the team’s success was on the mound, however. All but one starter allowed three runs or fewer in their starts, with newly acquired Mason Albright tossing five shutout innings with nine punchouts and just two hits allowed and Michael Prosecky matching that hit total over his six innings while registering 11 strikeouts.

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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: 7/8-7/13 @ Round Rock (TEX)

Double-A Hartford: 7/8-7/13 @ Portland (BOS)

High-A Spokane: 7/8-7/13 vs Hillsboro (AZ)

Low-A Fresno: 7/8-7/13 @ San Jose (SF)

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