Toglia's 4-for-4 showing gives Rox 'hope for the future'

Seabold makes first OD roster as long reliever; Bard looking for location, velo

March 28th, 2023

PHOENIX -- Monday started with Rockies manager Bud Black offering an even-handed evaluation of switch-hitting rookie ’s Spring Training. Major League competition has revealed areas that need work, but there’s no denying Toglia’s bright and hard-hitting moments.

Then Toglia spent the day bringing thunder. His single, two doubles and monstrous two-run homer in the sixth off Javy Guerra led Colorado to a 12-8 victory over Milwaukee.

There are logical reasons why the Rockies are likely to start the regular season without Toglia, selected in the first round and 23rd overall out of UCLA in 2019 -- not the least being the need to have a bench player with starting shortstop skills in Alan Trejo. Black has given Toglia more at-bats than any other player in camp (73), which has allowed him and the coaches to spot the need for the 24-year-old to improve his strikeout and swing-and-miss rates.

But as camp has progressed, results have been memorable when contact has been made. On the heels of a two-double performance against the White Sox on Sunday, Toglia on Monday lifted his Cactus League batting average 42 points to .288. Monday’s homer was his fourth of the spring, all since March 12.

And with veteran left fielder Jurickson Profar still awaiting a visa from Curaçao so he can join the team on his new one-year contract, Toglia, MLB Pipeline’s No. 12 Rockies prospect, might have to be part of Friday afternoon’s opener at San Diego before he sets foot in Triple-A Albuquerque.

“I don’t know anything yet,” Toglia said. “I’m going to hope for the best, plan for the best and do whatever they tell me to do.

His 24 strikeouts, nearly a third of his at-bats, have Black taking a sober approach to Toglia’s readiness for the Majors. The manager noted before the game that being able to stop mid-swing when a pitch is not the right one is a challenge for Toglia, but he said when a pitch is in his zone “good things happen.”

At day’s end, the focus was on the good.

“Days like this give us hope for the future,” Black said. “Balls in the strike zone, he didn’t miss. The consistency moving forward will be something he’s working on. Today there were good swings from both sides, and [he] showed the power.”

Toglia likes his trajectory toward becoming a mature hitter.

“It’s not exactly the last couple of days -- you’re slowly building every day, and you get to reap the rewards when it happens,” Toglia said. “It’s not like there was magic today that resulted in the day I had. It’s been work over the last month.”

Celebrating yet learning
Righty learned Monday that he earned the last right-handed bullpen spot. With many relievers prepared for just one inning, and with lefty Kyle Freeland entering the season a little behind on his pitch count, Black decided to carry two long relievers -- Seabold and lefty Ty Blach.

Seabold struck out four in 1 1/3 innings on Monday, but he gave up four hits, including William Contreras’ second three-run homer of the game. But Seabold, who came over in a trade with the Red Sox in January, is simply happy to be on an Opening Day roster for the first time.

He had been a starter, but the opportunity in the Majors and the new role made him eager.

“It’s a lot less thinking,” Seabold said. “You get the call, start warming up, you go in. I like that part of it. It’s quick. You get in there more often.”

Bard searching
The top-end velocity and location have not arrived for closer , who faced six batters in the eighth but didn’t finish the inning. He struck out two, but he gave up two hits and walked two, and he struggled to reach the mid-90s in velocity. Bard’s upper-90s strikeout stuff led the team last season to grant him a two-year, $19 million extension.

The Rockies hope Bard harnesses his difficult-to-coordinate motion and finds the velocity that can allow him to power through innings when his location is not pinpoint.

“He’s still just a little off,” Black said. “We’re going to talk the next couple of days to see where he is. His body feels good. His arm feels good. He’s going through a little period just where things aren’t syncing up.”

The other pitching trouble spot was the performance of starter José Ureña, who walked four in three innings and yielded Contreras’ first homer.