Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

Rockies News arrow-downArrow Down icon Arrow Up icon

Rox add 4 to roster ahead of Rule 5 Draft

@harding_at_mlb
November 20, 2020

DENVER -- Corner infielder Colton Welker and left-handed pitcher Helcris Olivarez, ranked by MLB Pipeline among the Rockies’ Top 15 prospects, were added to the team’s 40-man roster before Friday’s deadline to protect eligible prospects from the Rule 5 Draft. The Rockies also selected the contracts of lefty Lucas Gilbreath

DENVER -- Corner infielder Colton Welker and left-handed pitcher Helcris Olivarez, ranked by MLB Pipeline among the Rockies’ Top 15 prospects, were added to the team’s 40-man roster before Friday’s deadline to protect eligible prospects from the Rule 5 Draft.

The Rockies also selected the contracts of lefty Lucas Gilbreath and utility player Bret Boswell. The team designated for assignment right-handers Ashton Goudeau and Jesus Tinoco, putting the 40-man roster at 39 players.

Offseason checklist: Rockies’ needs, moves | Rockies' Top 30 Prospects

Welker, 23, is the organization’s No. 7 prospect, per MLB Pipeline. A fourth-round Draft pick in 2016, he had a .252/.313/.408 slash line at Double-A Hartford in 2019. Welker added 10 home runs and 23 doubles as one of the younger players in the Eastern League. He limited his strikeouts to 68 in 394 plate appearances. In 11 Cactus League games during Spring Training this year, Welker hit .438 (7-for-16) with two doubles.

Welker, listed at 6-foot-1, traded bulk for agility and showed hands, instinct and footwork at third base and first base while spending 2020 at the alternate training site.

“He’s a gap-to-gap, line-drive guy whose power is just going to come naturally,” said Zach Wilson, the Rockies’ assistant general manager of player development. “He doesn’t have to change anything, doesn’t have to add anything different to his swing.”

The Rockies have high hopes for Olivarez, who is their No. 15 prospect. At 6-foot-2 and 192 pounds, the 20-year-old has a loose and electric arm. Olivarez struck out 61 in 46 2/3 innings at Rookie-level Grand Junction in 2019 and continued to show strides physically and with his pitch mix (94-97 mph fastball, developing curveball and changeup) through Minor League camp and at the alternate site.

“A lot of what he needs to do over the next two to three years is going to be consistency-related,” Wilson said. “He’s going to have to consistently repeat his delivery. When he does, it’s electric. It is easy out of his hand, and it is stuff that can carve up hitters.

“I’ve said this publicly before, and I’ll say it again: It wouldn’t shock me if he’s in the top 50 prospects in the entire game in the next couple years. It is that type of special left arm.”

Boswell, 26, an eighth-round Draft choice out of the University of Texas in 2017, batted .417 with a home run, three doubles and nine RBIs in Spring Training this year after hitting a combined 42 home runs in the 2018 and ’19 Minor League seasons. Originally an infielder, Boswell added center field in ’19 and turned in above-average defense.

“He had been basically a .300 hitter until ’19 at Hartford [.219, 15 homers], so you look at the body of work, look at the big picture, there’s a lot to like about Bret Boswell,” Wilson said. “He’s a good athlete. He’s a plus [above average Major League] runner. He has versatility.”

Gilbreath, 24, from Legacy High School in Broomfield, Colo., and the University of Minnesota, went 5-10 with a 5.81 ERA in 28 starts at Class A Advanced Lancaster in 2019. His rapid development -- into a candidate for bullpen work -- came through his work and attention to detail during the shutdown. Gilbreath made forward leaps as a reliever in instructional ball.

“He really took some unbelievable strides forward,” Wilson said. “He is sitting 95-97 [mph] in short stints. He’d always been a starter in this organization to really develop stuff, particularly his breaking ball. And that took another step forward, as well.

“I saw him for an entire inning. It was about 12 fastballs, and every one was 97. And every outing, it was 95-97 with a plus slider. He was filling up the zone and really dominated his way through instructional league.”

Goudeau, 28, debuted in the Majors with the Rockies in 2020 and posted a 7.56 ERA in four Major League games. Tinoco, 25, posted a combined 1.04 ERA in six games with the Rockies and Marlins in ‘20.

Rockies pick up Joe
The Rockies have signed utility player Connor Joe to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League camp. Joe, 28, a right-handed hitter who will come to camp as a first baseman, went 1-for-15 in eight games for the Giants in 2019.

The Pirates drafted Joe in the first round in 2014 out of the University of San Diego. In five Minor League seasons with the Pirates, Braves, Dodgers and Giants systems, Joe batted .271 with 43 home runs and 229 RBIs.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.