Amador provides glimpse of potential in eventful MLB debut

June 9th, 2024

ST. LOUIS -- dispensed with the waiting when he called his father on Saturday morning. Amador, an infielder just turning hot at Double-A Hartford, was heading to St. Louis for his Major League debut.

“I didn’t even tell him that I had something to tell him,” Amador said in Spanish with bullpen catcher Aaron Muñoz interpreting. “I just told him.”

Amador, the No. 1 prospect in the Rockies' system and No. 32 overall according to MLB Pipeline, showed during Sunday’s 5-1 loss to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium that he’s not a beat-around-the-bush kind of guy.

On the first pitch of his first at-bat, Amador lofted a single into right field. Shortly thereafter, Amador stole second -- employing a swim move to avoid a tag by Cardinals shortstop Masyn Winn to reach the bag, and survive a St. Louis challenge.

Add to that a sliding play on a grounder to his left to retire Brendan Donovan in the seventh, and it added up to a solid day for Amador, who went 1-for-3 with a strikeout while playing second base.

Second baseman Brendan Rodgers’ left hamstring strain -- the reason Amador was brought in -- is not expected to be a long-term injury. Whether Rodgers is back on June 18, the end of his 10-day injured list term, or if it takes 3-4 weeks, the belief is Amador is with the club to show what he has learned and what’s more to learn.

The newness of the Majors was apparent in Amador’s at-bats Sunday.

Strike zone awareness has been a signature trait for the switch-hitting Amador. In 277 career Minor League games, Amador has more walks (186) than strikeouts (172) -- unusual in a sport full of hitters trained by launch angle pushers who trade whiffs for manufactured lifts. Despite a slow start at Hartford, Amador had a still-desirable 33 walks to 39 strikeouts at the time of his callup.

But on Sunday, he saw a total of seven pitches. The fifth-inning strikeout against Cardinals starter Andre Pallante included swings at two pitches well below the zone.

“He was probably a little amped up,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “The strike zone control, the Minor League walks, we saw him expand a little bit today, which is out of his norm. That will probably quiet down as each day goes on.

“That was the thing we didn’t see from him in Spring Training, but I’m sure he was fired up today to get hits and get the bat started.”

Amador, 21, arrived with a .194 batting average in 46 games, but he was competitive for the last 24 games and on fire for his last nine (.359/.422/.846 with six of his seven total home runs). Amador’s goal will be to show the Majors that he can ignore the pitch outside the strike zone and crush the one within it.

“It’s always been that way,” Amador said. “I feel comfortable taking pitches. I want to continue swinging at good pitches and luckily it’s been working out.”

Amador smiled at the thought of being able to tell his father, Placido Alexander, who played some baseball but not at the pro level because of a knee injury, that he was about to realize a dream.

“He’s been with me since I was little, taking me to games and taking me to the park,” said Amador, from Santiago, Dominican Republic. “He’s been with me from Day One.”

Every day in the Majors is special, but the Rockies want to give Amador enough opportunities so that the Majors become a little less of a new experience and more like the happy and carefree days when his father was taking him to the field.

“We’re going to get him some starts,” Black said. “We want to get him acclimated. This was good for him -- a good crowd on a Sunday afternoon, nice energy in the park.

“These are all steps for him to start his career. These little steps and positive notes along the way will only help the player.”