Rox set roster: Fuentes in; Rodgers optioned

July 23rd, 2020

DENVER -- Deciding to keep three catchers, and that ’ ability to play first base was more advantageous to the roster, the Rockies optioned top prospect Brendan Rodgers to their alternate training site in the most notable decision of the 30-man season-opening roster they released Thursday morning.

Also, right-handed pitcher , who pitched last season at Double-A Hartford after time in the Royals’ and Mariners’ organizations, made the regular-season roster for the first time -- in a grand way to celebrate his 28th birthday on Thursday.

Goudeau, who will help the team in long relief in the early days of the season, steps into the bullpen opening that arose when righty setup man Scott Oberg went to the 10-day injured list with back soreness. Colorado also placed righty starter Peter Lambert on the 45-day IL and announced he underwent Tommy John right elbow surgery this week.

Fuentes over Rodgers, however, was the biggest roster news.

Fuentes, 27, batted .218 in 24 games in two stints in the Majors last season. Then he hit .270 (10-for-37) with three home runs and a double, hit .300 in 30 at-bats during original Spring Training, and he had notable performances during Summer Camp in Denver.

"I think he's the type of player that can come off the bench, give you a good at-bat and get you a hit," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "He's wired to be aggressive with the bat, which is always a good thing for a pinch-hitter. We feel very confident in his ability to play first base, and he can move around the diamond."

The Rockies had been speaking highly of Rodgers, who will turn 24 on Aug. 9. He debuted last season and hit .224 before undergoing season-ending surgery on his right shoulder labrum, but he reported for Summer Camp with an extra 10 pounds of muscle. Coaches also found him more educated about big league ways.

But with not only having earned a job after signing as a non-roster player and putting himself in consideration for starts against lefty pitchers, and with -- like Owings -- able to play the infield and outfield, it was hard to find playing time for Rodgers, another right-handed-hitting infielder who doesn’t play first.

"He'll probably get more work in the satellite camp than he would with us," Black said. "Brendan handled it well when we told him [Wednesday] night, he understands. I think the big thing he understands is that his time's coming. It's just not right now, July 23."

Here is a breakdown of the 2020 Rockies’ Opening Day roster.

Taxi squad (1):

Black has not announced if he’ll take advantage of two days off in the first seven days and begin with a four-man rotation, or if he’ll go with five or even six by giving González and Hoffman turns (they could alternate in a five-turn rotation).

But it’s the top four who can make or break the 60-game season. All have had periods of success, having pitched on the 2017 and ‘18 teams that went to the postseason; all -- except Opening Day starter Márquez -- have had significant periods of struggle. Gray, at 28, is the oldest. But Black sees them as seasoned.

Castellani, 23, a second-round pick out of high school (Phoenix Brophy Prep) in 2014, has made rapid progress since recovering from surgery last season to remove particles from his right elbow.

Bullpen (10): Right-handers , , , , , Ashton Goudeau, ; left-handers Phillip Diehl,

Taxi squad (1): Right-hander

This group is a wild card, with Davis as the only member with fresh and lengthy credentials until Oberg returns. Bard was established, but he has been out of the Majors for seven years. But those with less time in the Majors -- particularly Díaz and Estévez -- can point to strong work last year, or in Spring Training and Summer Camp that argues that they’re dependable.

Taxi squad (1):

A 30-man roster gives Black something of a postseason mix that would allow him to make an in-game substitution for offensive purposes, and still be protected in case of injury. Not many teams have three catchers plus a young catcher the ilk of Nuñez (with left-handed power) to start a season. Other clubs may come calling in trade talks.

Infielders (7): , Josh Fuentes, Garrett Hampson, , , Chris Owings,

The Rockies expect stardom from McMahon, and the early thought is Murphy has recaptured the swing that was so effective earlier in his career. If Colorado wants to use Murphy as a DH, it can pull McMahon to first base and start Owings or Hampson at second, or start Fuentes at first.

All-Stars Blackmon in right and Dahl center are joined by an interchangeable, talented left-handed-hitting combo of Hilliard and Tapia in left. One could serve as a left-handed-hitting DH. Plus, it would be hard to justify a lineup at Coors Field without Kemp in it as DH or even in the outfield.