Notes: Hannah dazzles; Cron's HR; Gray day

March 10th, 2021

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies manager Bud Black cautions that outfield prospect still needs Minor League seasoning. But the left-handed-hitting outfielder -- acquired from the Reds in an offseason trade -- sure has spiced up this camp.

Hannah, 23, began camp with three sliding saves in the outfield in the first two games. He hasn’t had many plate appearances, but he’s 3-for-4 after hitting a three-run homer Monday against the Reds.

It’s a nice impression for Hannah. He played at Class A Advanced for two organizations in 2019 – for the Athletics at Stockton and for the Reds at Daytona, after being traded for pitcher Tanner Roark. But the Reds did not invite him to Summer Camp or the alternate training site last year.

The Rockies coveted him after watching him in Arizona instructional ball, and insisted on Hannah along with righty Robert Stephenson in the deal that sent pitcher Jeff Hoffman to Cincinnati.

Even with the highlights Hannah has provided, he is clear-eyed about the development stages in front of him.

“I'm a little handsy at the plate, so it’s just letting my body work through the ball and staying in left-center,” Hannah said. “That’s a big priority of mine. I’ve been talking with the coaches and that’s something we’re building off of.”

The Rockies see a powerfully built player (listed 5-foot-9, 185 pounds) whose approach should produce a steady batting average, with occasional power. Hannah also can play all three outfield positions.

Hannah ranks 16th on MLB Pipeline's Top 30 prospects list, which is scheduled to be updated for 2021 this month.

“He's got some energy to his game,” Black said. “I think there's a toughness to this kid. We're looking forward to watching him develop. But that was a good swing [Monday] -- showed a little pull power. He's made some nice plays in the outfield. So he's progressing.”

Results to match the swing
Until Tuesday, right-handed-hitting first baseman ’s bat speed was fine but he was missing pitches and was 1-for-13. Cron wasn’t worried. Then he clicked for a home run -- one of four Rockies homers -- and two doubles on a 3-for-3 day during the Rockies’ 11-4 victory over the D-backs at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

“Gradually, as we've played more games, my swing has felt better and better,” Cron said. “I think that fly ball I hit yesterday was probably the best swing of mine up until today. I was on that pitch and just missed it. That kind of locked me in for today.”

Cron is in camp as a non-roster invitee, but it’s clear the Rockies signed him for right-handed power in the regular lineup. Josh Fuentes also plays first, but he can get regular at-bats at various positions.

Ryan McMahon, who also homered, said Cron’s knowledge is helping already.

“He's already brought some new ideas and new ways of thinking, different analytical things that we can look up and look at before this pitcher,” McMahon said. “He's a good guy to lean on. Obviously he's been around a bunch and around some really good hitters, as well as himself having a great approach.”

Trevor Story and Brendan Rodgers also went deep.

Happy for the traffic
The last of right-hander ’s three innings in a “B” game against the D-backs on Tuesday was his stickiest. He believes it was the inning he needed.

Gray’s third began with a walk on a full count, then a single. He gave up a run on a sacrifice fly, but that was the limit to his damage. In his first action against an opponent’s jersey this spring, he wanted to feel some pressure.

“To get thrown in that, in game No. 1, does a service for me,” Gray said. “There are some people on base, it’s time to get out of it. That’s a lot of fun.”

Also making Gray smile was the 94-96 mph on his fastball in his first outing. Gray struggled at times to surpass that range last year, and his season ended after eight starts because of right shoulder inflammation.

“It just gives you way more confidence,” Gray said. “You're not necessarily nitpicking the edges or trying to avoid the middle of the plate so much. I'm in attack mode now, and I know this is hard to hit, so I'm coming at you.”

González’s direct approach
Righty made a mistake in the zone that Carson Kelly pulled for a home run in the second inning. But González didn’t waver in the zone for the second straight outing, after a rough spring debut. He yielded four hits but just one run in his three innings Tuesday.

“His last start, he was up to 95 [mph],” Black said. “I like the crispness of his fastball.”

Righty reliever Jairo Díaz, working on some delivery adjustments, gave up a two-run Christian Walker homer and missed with some elevated pitches over the plate, but also struck out Ketel Marte with a solid breaking ball.

Up next
After two scoreless outings of two innings apiece, lefty Austin Gomber will look to go three frames against the Padres on Wednesday (1:10 p.m. MT, MLB.TV) at Salt River Fields.