The deal was a roster-clearing move for Colorado. It represents a new chance for Hilliard, 28, who possesses speed and defensive ability. He flashed occasional power (29 home runs, some in bunches, and 71 RBIs in 214 games), but he batted .212 and struck out 209 times over parts of four Major League seasons.
Spain, 24, was selected in the 10th round of the 2021 MLB Draft out of the University of Hawaii at Hilo, where he played three seasons before siting out the ‘20 campaign during the pandemic. Spain did not give up a run in 17 2/3 innings in ’21 across three levels in the Braves’ system.
Last season, Spain appeared in 36 games (seven starts) at High-A Rome and he went 0-5 with a 5.30 ERA. Spain logged 60 strikeouts against 13 walks in 56 innings pitched.
“We’re taking a shot at an A-ball guy that has arm strength,” Rockies general manager Bill Schmidt said. “He’s been mainly out of the bullpen. Our pro scouts like him.”
With multiple outfield prospects on the way and with Hilliard having exhausted his Minor League options in 2022, the Rockies were faced with a decision of whether to keep him on their 40-man roster. Colorado can delay protecting Spain on its roster until after the 2024 season.
“Hopefully, Sammy does well,” Schmidt said. “I wish him the best, and that’s what I told him. And we are going to have some tough decisions on our roster.”