Pint continuing to impress as he resurrects career

2016 No. 4 overall pick promoted to Triple-A after brief retirement in 2021

August 11th, 2022

DENVER -- Albuquerque, N.M., has always been a stopover for Rockies pitching prospect Riley Pint. In past, not-so-happy days, he would spend a night or two there on his way to Spring Training.

Now, Pint hopes Albuquerque is a different kind of stopover. Pint, the team’s top choice and the No. 4 overall pick in 2016, was promoted from Double-A Hartford to Triple-A Albuquerque this week. He made his debut Wednesday night, pitching a scoreless inning with a strikeout and two walks.

But unlike the days when it was merely a rest station amidst a career that made him so unhappy he walked away from it last summer, Pint can take some time to appreciate being in Albuquerque.

“When I got here, I took a step back and let everything sink in,” Pint said. “It’s not my goal, but it’s a happy time for me and I can appreciate it.”

Pint, 24, was highly coveted out of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park, Kan. because of a right arm not only capable of a triple-digits fastball, but one kept healthy by careful workload limits in high school. But by last summer, after bouts with walks and hit batters and general negatives of the sport, he was no longer enjoying himself. He went into a brief retirement after 10 appearances at Class-A Spokane.

This winter, though, Pint restarted his throwing program and felt baseball calling again. Even more, conversations with Chris Forbes -- who took over as the Rockies’ player development director last season -- convinced Pint that the climb toward the Majors and feeling happy weren’t mutually exclusive. He returned for Spring Training, and suddenly what had been a winding career route headed forward.

In 38 appearances at Hartford, Pint went 2-1 with a 4.64 ERA, with 55 strikeouts against 29 walks in 42 2/3 innings. There were hot streaks and blips, but the key was how even-keeled Pint was about it. And early in the season in a game against Somerset, Pint fired a fastball, looked at the scoreboard and saw triple digits. He was truly back.

“I got back to who I am,” Pint said. “I always had faith in myself. I know I can do this. I started to believe it, even before the start of the year. I had a good idea of where my stuff was and what I was able to do with it.

“I began to not hold onto things like I had in the past. I was pitching pretty much every other day in Double-A, and no matter what happened I just prepared for the next outing. If something went wrong, I just chalked it up to baseball -- everybody has ups and downs. I could brush it off and go to the next one.”

Pint was drafted as a starter and still believes he has that type of ability, but he noted, “I would go through two innings. Then things weren’t the same.” He has embraced being a reliever. Even more, he felt welcomed by Forbes and Hartford pitching coach Blaine Beatty, who have treated him holistically and not just as an "arm." His first meeting Tuesday with Albuquerque pitching coach Frank Gonzales left him with the same impression.

Many pitchers on Pint’s trajectory advance to the Majors in the same season they are promoted. Forbes, though, said a debut has not been discussed, but he likes what Pint has shown.

“He’s thrown 96 to 99, occasionally he’ll grab 100, 101,” Forbes said. “He’s held his velocity, and the slider has been a separator pitch.”

Albuquerque is another stop on a trip he has learned to savor.

“I can’t imagine not going through all that I’ve been through,” Pint said. “It has brought me through a lot of hard times. All my experiences have taught me to grow up, figure things out on my own and be able to come through adversity. I’d never had adversity as a kid or though high school. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

“This is the next chapter.”