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Rodgers needs huge spring to claim 2B role

Prospect competing with Hampson, McMahon for starting job
MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies top prospect Brendan Rodgers realizes he has to keep his spirits light even though his assignment is heavy.

Rodgers, baseball's No. 10 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline, is being included as a legitimate competitor at second base. But given his youth and lack of experience relative to the group of young hopefuls (no Major League games for Rodgers, and just 19 in Triple-A) looking to win the everyday job at second base, the 22-year-old realistically has to prove he's a no-doubt, everyday starter in order to skip having to begin the season at Albuquerque.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies top prospect Brendan Rodgers realizes he has to keep his spirits light even though his assignment is heavy.

Rodgers, baseball's No. 10 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline, is being included as a legitimate competitor at second base. But given his youth and lack of experience relative to the group of young hopefuls (no Major League games for Rodgers, and just 19 in Triple-A) looking to win the everyday job at second base, the 22-year-old realistically has to prove he's a no-doubt, everyday starter in order to skip having to begin the season at Albuquerque.

After a strong performance in his first Cactus League season last spring (solid .286 batting average and .842 OPS, with three home runs), Rodgers will have to turn hot on the field while staying cool-headed.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"My main thing in the back of my head is to not put too much pressure on myself; that's what I've tried not to do over the years, just go out there and play," Rodgers said. "I deal with pressure pretty well. Obviously, in the Futures Game and stuff like that, it's there. But I try not to let it get to me."

Rodgers hit .232 and had a .264 on-base percentage in his brief Triple-A introduction, but spent that time listening and learning from teammates. On the practice fields before full-squad workouts began Monday, he found shortstop Trevor Story a perceptive and willing mentor. Rodgers was drafted as a shortstop but, like many Rockies prospects, has had to learn other positions just in case the big league opening was at something other than his primary spot.

"We were just working on double plays and stuff, and he's letting me know speed-wise on flips and throws and turns and placement of the ball," Rodgers said of Story. "Little things like that are really helpful for me, because that's stuff I'm working on and focusing on.

"I didn't tell him that I'm working on that stuff. I feel like he has a feeling I'm working on it, and he can pick and choose and give me little pointers and tips. That's really helpful."

But Ryan McMahon, Garrett Hampson and Pat Valaika possess Major League experience and have also spent time learning from Story. They also have some experience as starters and bench players. Rodgers is still at a learning stage, so if he's not always on the field in the Majors it may be beneficial for him to have daily playing time in Triple-A.

Rodgers will use Spring Training to show what type of action he'll be ready for when the season begins.

"Brendan's getting closer," manager Bud Black said. "There are some things we'd like to see cleaned up a little bit. But we think that he has a real chance to be an impact player, with the bat and with the glove. And he can run a little bit, too.

"Second year in big league camp, there should be a little more self-confidence, a little more feeling at ease. He's been around these guys for a couple years, being around the coaches, being around myself, we should see the talent emerge. Last year in Triple-A, he got some at-bats. Statistically, there were some things that showed up that might warrant a little bit more time, but we'll see how he looks this year in spring."

Video: Heidi Watney talks with Bud Black on upcoming season

Leaving a freakish year behind
Righty reliever Carlos Estevez made 98 Major League appearances for the Rockies in 2016 and 2017 (8-7, 5.36 ERA, 11 saves), but last year was wiped out by freakish injuries.

After last year's first Cactus League outing, Estevez reached downward to spear a ball while playing catch and suffered a left oblique injury. While working his way back at Albuquerque, he had an outing when he never got fully loose, then sprained the UCL in his right elbow while pushing up from the bench. Estevez was able to return to Albuquerque before season's end but never made it to the Majors.

Video: Rockies reliever Carlos Estevez on his recovery

However, Estevez felt healthy while throwing in the Dominican Republic after the season. Known mostly for upper velocity occasionally topping 100 mph, Estevez said he feels capable of throwing just as hard, but also believes he is a complete pitcher, more than just a flamethrower. Plus, he is out of Minor League options and must prove himself this spring.

"Last year, my slider was working really well, even in the first game of spring," Estevez said. "I believe that got way better. My changeup is good, too. I'm working on my fastball everywhere."

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

Colorado Rockies, Brendan Rodgers

Rodgers set to compete for starting 2B role

No. 10 prospect in MLB sees similarities with Story in 2016
MLB.com

DENVER -- Rockies top prospect Brendan Rodgers aims to relive Trevor Story's story this Spring Training.

Rodgers was barely out of high school and in Minor League camp in 2016, the year Story grabbed the starting shortstop job by batting .340 with six home runs in Cactus League play. Like Story in '16, Rodgers -- the No. 1 prospect in the Rockies' system and No. 10 in baseball per MLB Pipeline -- is a recent top Draft pick whose highest level of experience is limited time at Triple-A Albuquerque.

DENVER -- Rockies top prospect Brendan Rodgers aims to relive Trevor Story's story this Spring Training.

Rodgers was barely out of high school and in Minor League camp in 2016, the year Story grabbed the starting shortstop job by batting .340 with six home runs in Cactus League play. Like Story in '16, Rodgers -- the No. 1 prospect in the Rockies' system and No. 10 in baseball per MLB Pipeline -- is a recent top Draft pick whose highest level of experience is limited time at Triple-A Albuquerque.

"I'm sure [Story] had the same goal and same mindset that I'm telling you right now," said Rodgers, 22, who arrived at the Rockies' complex in Scottsdale, Ariz., nearly three weeks ago to prepare to compete for starts and playing time at second base.

The difference is that Story had a fairly clear path to start at shortstop in 2016, with Jose Reyes facing an eventual suspension under MLB's Joint Domestic Violence Policy. Rodgers is competing at second with Ryan McMahon, who appeared in 91 regular-season games last year as a rookie; and Garrett Hampson, who saw action in 24 Major League games. Both also made postseason appearances. Add to them Pat Valaika, who struggled last year but was the Rockies' top pinch-hitter in '17.

But after Rodgers responded well while riding an accelerated learning curve in 2018, the Rockies have no qualms about identifying him as a candidate to start at second base.

Selected third overall in the 2015 Draft, Rodgers has batted .291 with an .837 OPS in his four Minor League seasons while playing shortstop, second base and third base. Last season he hit for a .275 batting average, .342 on-base percentage and .493 slugging percentage at Double-A Hartford, with 17 homers in 95 games. At Triple-A Albuquerque, Rodgers slashed .232/.264/.290 with no homers in 19 games, but dramatically increased his knowledge base.

Rodgers needed it. Hampson earned the late-season Major League nod over him at the end of 2018 because of a more advanced approach. Drafted in the third round in '16, Hampson is two years older than Rodgers, and had a three-year collegiate career at Long Beach State.

"I watched a lot more video this year and knew what I was going up against before it happened," said Rodgers, who signed a $5.5 million bonus after being drafted out of Lake Mary (Fla.) High School. "And in Triple-A, pretty much every time I had an at-bat, someone has already faced this guy. They would tell me little tips in how they attack, like what they do 0-2, 2-0. I just really listened and learned a lot."

Rodgers also appreciated the continuing mentorship of Matt Holliday, who was at Albuquerque preparing for a late-season comeback with the Rockies this past year.

"He's definitely a guy I want to keep in contact with over the years," Rodgers said. "He helped me mentally at the plate. That guy has been in a lot of tough situations."

Rodgers missed nine days in August with a strain at the bottom of his right hamstring. A right shoulder injury he suffered when he slipped at the end of a swing during one of the last Triple-A games knocked him out of the Arizona Fall League.

But Rodgers' health is now clean. So is his mind, after an initial flurry of interest came his way when longtime Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu signed with the Yankees, officially opening Colorado's second-base race.

"A lot of people were texting me about it," Rodgers said. "But I'm a laid-back kind of guy. I don't really think too deep into it. I just gotta go out and show people that I can play."

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

Colorado Rockies

Rockies comfortable with youthful options at 2nd

Hampson, McMahon, Rodgers may challenge for starting job
MLB.com

DENVER -- The Rockies moved closer to turning second base over to young, homegrown players on Thursday when they backed away from veteran Brian Dozier -- whom sources say will sign a one-year, $9 million contract with the Nationals.

With the Rockies' payroll growing because young players are hitting their arbitration seasons, Colorado may be set to consider letting Ryan McMahon (.232, 5 HR, 19 RBIs in 91 games as a rookie in 2018), Garrett Hampson (.275 in 40 at-bats of his debut) and Brendan Rodgers (the team's No. 1 prospect and the Majors' No. 9 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline) compete for playing time at second -- a position manned primarily by DJ LeMahieu (now a free agent) since '13.

DENVER -- The Rockies moved closer to turning second base over to young, homegrown players on Thursday when they backed away from veteran Brian Dozier -- whom sources say will sign a one-year, $9 million contract with the Nationals.

With the Rockies' payroll growing because young players are hitting their arbitration seasons, Colorado may be set to consider letting Ryan McMahon (.232, 5 HR, 19 RBIs in 91 games as a rookie in 2018), Garrett Hampson (.275 in 40 at-bats of his debut) and Brendan Rodgers (the team's No. 1 prospect and the Majors' No. 9 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline) compete for playing time at second -- a position manned primarily by DJ LeMahieu (now a free agent) since '13.

This past weekend, MLB.com learned that the Rockies were weighing pursuing Dozier on a short-term contract. Before then, the market for Dozier, LeMahieu and several other accomplished second basemen had been slow. In doing its due diligence, Colorado considered Dozier because of his history of power and his right-handed bat. Also, after two straight National League Wild Card Game showings and an appearance in the NL Division Series last season, the idea of going with a proven player appealed to the Rox.

But after the Rockies were revealed as a Dozier suitor, other teams (notably the Nationals and the Mets) were publicly identified in their pursuit of the veteran, a one-time All-Star who struggled to a .215 average last season with the Twins and Dodgers, while playing through a severe bone bruise on his right knee for most of the year.

While many Rockies fans are hoping LeMahieu -- a two-time All-Star and three-time NL Gold Glove Award winner -- can find his way back to Denver, his market is reportedly heating up, too. MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported Thursday that the Giants were a possibility for LeMahieu, although that may be contingent upon San Francisco trading its incumbent at second, Joe Panik. An MLB exec told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi that the Brewers and Dodgers are best positioned to land LeMahieu now that Dozier has agreed to a deal with the Nationals.

As for the Rockies, their offseason plan has been to avoid lengthy and expensive contracts, and that has colored some of their strategy at second base.

Third baseman Nolan Arenado is in his final year of arbitration, and his 2019 salary is projected to eclipse MLB's single-season arbitration record -- $23 million for Josh Donaldson -- set last year. The Rockies also hope to sign Arenado to a multi-year deal, so they felt they could not get tied up in long-term contracts. Colorado's one big signing -- Daniel Murphy, to play first base -- was a $24 million, two-year contract that includes a buyout with deferred money.

That said, the Rockies like their younger options.

McMahon, 24, was one of the game's top prospects going into 2018. He played mostly first base this past season and excelled in his brief time at second and third when injuries hit LeMahieu and Arenado.

Hampson, 24, was a third-round Draft pick in 2016 and impressed the Rockies in his first big league camp last spring. He burned through Double-A and Triple-A before earning his shot in the Majors in '18.

Both players appeared in the postseason in 2018.

Rodgers, 22, a first-round pick in 2015, made it to Triple-A last season and put himself in Major League consideration before hamstring and shoulder injuries toward the end of the year pushed him off the field and cost him participation in the Arizona Fall League. But Rodgers is healthy, has been taking batting practice, and will soon be at the Rockies' training center in Scottsdale, Ariz., for workouts.

During this past month's Winter Meetings, general manager Jeff Bridich said the Rockies would miss LeMahieu if he didn't somehow swing their way or if another move isn't made, but Colorado believes the talents of its younger players will be sufficient.

"It's difficult to say right now because none of those guys have a ton of experience at the Major League level, [but] they're athletically all able to do it, and do it well," Bridich said. "They're all different than the incumbent [LeMahieu], and the incumbent is different than most typical second basemen. He does things that fit him because of his big body and his natural instincts.

"Maybe we have to position differently or we're going to have to figure out what these guys are going to do well defensively if they are the people that are going to be manning the position. We'll have to learn how to best do that."

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

Colorado Rockies

To land big fish, Rox must be willing to sacrifice

Teams eyeing Colorado starters, top prospect as potential trade returns
MLB.com

DENVER -- The Rockies can envision Carlos Santana, whom the Phillies would like to move, providing big-time offense production at first base. Trades with the Marlins for catcher J.T. Realmuto or Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard also are attractive ideas, but they're all talk until Colorado answers what it's willing to give up.

For now, the Rockies are one of several teams in the mix for all of them. But the reason Colorado isn't beyond the exploration level is the same reason there isn't a credible, specific trade rumor for any of the players. The Phillies, Marlins and Mets have made clear they're seeking top prospects and impact Major Leaguers under club control.

DENVER -- The Rockies can envision Carlos Santana, whom the Phillies would like to move, providing big-time offense production at first base. Trades with the Marlins for catcher J.T. Realmuto or Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard also are attractive ideas, but they're all talk until Colorado answers what it's willing to give up.

For now, the Rockies are one of several teams in the mix for all of them. But the reason Colorado isn't beyond the exploration level is the same reason there isn't a credible, specific trade rumor for any of the players. The Phillies, Marlins and Mets have made clear they're seeking top prospects and impact Major Leaguers under club control.

MLB.com has learned from multiple sources that teams Colorado is talking to often ask for two of the most valuable assets when it comes to big production at a low price -- starting rotation members Kyle Freeland and German Marquez. Infielder Brendan Rodgers, the Rockies' No. 1 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, is also popular on the request line.

Video: WLD@USA: Rodgers doubles to left in the 1st inning

General manager Jeff Bridich has said there are no untouchables, but those three would be difficult to move. In the recent past, teams have asked Colorado for starting pitcher Jon Gray and outfielder David Dahl although both face question marks -- Gray because of a rough 2018 that included a move to Triple-A, Dahl because of an injury history.

However, it appears the Rockies -- who have stated a goal to improve the offense but also a want to upgrade catching and collect impact pitchers -- are working the trade market with gusto. Industry sources say the club is playing a waiting game with free agents while working through complicated talks with other clubs to see if trades are possible.

Colorado's interest in Santana, who turns 33 on April 8, as a corner bat is not new. They looked at bidding last offseason, but spent a total of $106 million on three-year contracts for relief pitchers Wade Davis, Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw. Santana took three years and $60 million from the Phillies.

Video: MLB@JPN: Santana smashes a laser 3-run homer

Santana started slowly and batted .229, but ended with 24 home runs and 86 RBIs. Philadelphia's problem is that Santana's presence forced power-hitting Rhys Hoskins to play left field, which is outside of his skill set. If the Phils can trade Santana, the plan would be to move Hoskins to first base, his more natural position.

In theory, if Colorado could land Santana, it would free Ian Desmond to move from first base to left field and Ryan McMahon to get his work at second base, where the Rockies feel he could excel. Of course, there are a couple rubs. Santana is due $35 million over the next two seasons. Also, while the Phillies are in play for the most expensive free agents, they would seek from Colorado either young Major League impact players or prospects.

Even if the more expensive Rockies coming off rough years -- Desmond and Shaw come to mind -- can be moved, the key to whether Colorado could truly obtain a Santana, Syndergaard or Realmuto is the young, controllable talent headed the other way.

Video: MLB@JPN: Realmuto's opposite-field jack opens scoring

Throughout the offseason, the Rockies have been considered a long shot for Realmuto; however, if reports are to be believed, there is no team with an inside shot because of Miami's asking price. But if it's going to trade for a frontline catcher, Colorado is more likely to pursue Realmuto, who is under club control through 2020, than reportedly available receivers at the end of their contracts -- the Blue Jays' Russell Martin ($20 million) and the Pirates' Francisco Cervelli ($11.5 million).

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

Colorado Rockies

Rox protect 4 from Rule 5, add to 40-man roster

MLB.com

DENVER -- Josh Fuentes jokes that most interviews he conducts begin centered around his cousin: Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado. That trend could continue after Fuentes was one of four added to Colorado's 40-man roster on Tuesday, though the Minor League corner infielder is propelling through the pipeline on his own.

Fuentes, outfielder Sam Hilliard and right-handed pitchers Ryan Castellani and Justin Lawrence were added to the Rockies' 40-man ahead of the 6 p.m. MT deadline to protect them from Rule 5 Draft consideration. First baseman and outfielder Jordan Patterson was designated for assignment in a corresponding move.

DENVER -- Josh Fuentes jokes that most interviews he conducts begin centered around his cousin: Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado. That trend could continue after Fuentes was one of four added to Colorado's 40-man roster on Tuesday, though the Minor League corner infielder is propelling through the pipeline on his own.

Fuentes, outfielder Sam Hilliard and right-handed pitchers Ryan Castellani and Justin Lawrence were added to the Rockies' 40-man ahead of the 6 p.m. MT deadline to protect them from Rule 5 Draft consideration. First baseman and outfielder Jordan Patterson was designated for assignment in a corresponding move.

"I talked to [Arenado] earlier today after I got the call," Fuentes said. "He was obviously stoked. I think he was more happy that maybe we can work together, more closely, because we really push each other. We're always in competition, whether it's baseball or 'horse' basketball."

Tuesday's transactions, which gave the club a full 40-man roster, are of note because they outline which players the Rockies want to protect from being selected by other clubs in the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 13 at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, where teams can pay $100,000 to select players who are not on their club's 40-man roster from within a certain criterion.

Castellani, the club's No. 10 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, was a lock to be added, while Hilliard (No. 9) and Lawrence (No. 17) and Fuentes were favored, but the three increased their stocks with strong performances in the Arizona Fall League.

• Rockies' Top 30 prospects

Fuentes was developed as a third baseman, but he's transitioned to first base to create more versatility when he becomes Major League ready. The 25-year-old spent all of 2018 with Triple-A Albuquerque and was named the Pacific Coast League Most Valuable Player after hitting .327/.354/.517 with 14 homers and 95 RBIs. In the AFL, he slashed .301/.356/.482 with three homers in 21 games.

Castellani is one of the club's headliners in its pitching-heavy pipeline, but his inability to maintain command has marred his young Minor League career. Castellani's 5.49 ERA and 70 walks over 26 starts with Double-A Hartford last year were both the Eastern League's highest. The upside: Castellani is just 22 years old, giving him time to grow.

Hilliard caught scouts' eyes during the AFL with a.328/.389/.516 slash line over 72 plate appearances in 16 games this year, which piggybacked a strong season with Hartford that saw him play the entire season and hit .262/.327/.389. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Hilliard was a 15th-round Draft pick by the Rockies in 2015, and he's exhibited raw power and speed that the club had touted in his four seasons since.

Video: Top Prospects: Sam Hilliard, OF, Rockies

Lawrence, a 12th-round pick in 2015, spent all of '18 with Class A Advanced Lancaster, where he compiled a 2.65 ERA, 11 saves and 62 strikeouts over 54 1/3 innings in 55 outings, thanks in part to being fully healthy from a lat injury that ended his '17 season. He is coming off two subpar outings in the AFL -- he was credited blown saves in the Fall Stars Game and AFL championship game against Peoria last Saturday -- but the Rockies have been encouraged by the right-hander's ability to command his ever-increasing velocity with sink.

Patterson was the club's No. 16 prospect and the club's fourth-round pick in 2013. He reached the Majors as a September callup in '16 and hit 26 homers in each of the last two seasons with Albuquerque but became a casualty to a roster logjam.

Outfielder Mike Tauchman remained on the 40-man despite a massively disappointing 2018, during which he hit .094/.194/.125 in 21 games after breaking camp as one of the standouts from Spring Training.

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.

Colorado Rockies

Tinoco's fastball velocity, MLB stock rising

No. 20 prospect impresses Rockies with improvements showcased in AFL
MLB.com

DENVER -- A clear uptick in fastball radar readings has helped right-hander Jesus Tinoco increase his standing on the Rockies' radar heading into next season.

Tinoco, who is headed into his second year on the Rockies' 40-man roster and turns 24 on April 30, posted a 1.72 ERA with a .190 batting average against and 14 strikeouts (against six walks) in 15 2/3 Arizona Fall League relief innings for the Salt River Rafters. But the stat line isn't the only impressive figure.

DENVER -- A clear uptick in fastball radar readings has helped right-hander Jesus Tinoco increase his standing on the Rockies' radar heading into next season.

Tinoco, who is headed into his second year on the Rockies' 40-man roster and turns 24 on April 30, posted a 1.72 ERA with a .190 batting average against and 14 strikeouts (against six walks) in 15 2/3 Arizona Fall League relief innings for the Salt River Rafters. But the stat line isn't the only impressive figure.

A starter at Double-A Hartford during the Minor League season (9-12, 4.79 ERA in 26 starts), Tinoco is throwing harder in more limited outings (two innings or less).

Through Tinoco's first 10 outings, his four-seam and two-seam fastballs combined for a 95.3-mph average according to Statcast™, and his four-seamer has an average projected spin rate of 2,566 RPM. For comparison, of the 332 Major Leaguers who threw at least 250 four-seamers, only 12 had higher spin rates, which hints at swing-and-miss stuff high above the swing plane.

A San Antonio de Maturin, Venezuela, native who joined the Rockies from the Blue Jays as part of the 2015 deal that sent away star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, Tinoco flashed his potential during a scoreless seventh inning for Salt River against Glendale on Oct. 31. He is ranked No. 20 on Colorado's prospects list, per MLB Pipeline.

After yielding a one-out bunt for a hit and another single to put runners at first and third, Tinoco fanned Laz Rivera (the White Sox No. 28 prospect) and worked Yu Chang (Indians) into an inning-ending grounder. Tinoco's average pitch was 96.4 mph that inning.

"He had an explosive fastball that was 96-98 -- he was just blowing it by guys," Rockies senior player development director Zach Wilson said. "They really had no shot to hit his fastball because it was coming out of his hand so easy."

Tinoco, who is 6-foot-4 and looks to have filled out beyond his 190-pound listing, was sent to Class A when he joined Colorado. 2018 marked his first Double-A season, as the Rockies worked with him to develop a smoother delivery. Tinoco's numbers at Hartford showed improvement during his final six starts (3-2, 2.84, 31 strikeouts to seven walks).

The Fall League plan for Tinoco resembles what the Rockies did last year with righty Yency Almonte, who had a taste of relief in the fall and broke into the Majors in the bullpen in 2018. The Rockies haven't converted Tinoco and could still bring him to Spring Training as a starter, but bullpen work won't be foreign if that's where his Major League opportunity arises.

Starting remains on the table, however, because his slider and curveball have improved, and Colorado is seeing improvement with his changeup.

"Next year will be big for him," said Mark Wiley, the Rockies' director of pitching operations. "We are very pleased with him in the AFL. If all goes well, he could definitely show up next year. "

Tinoco is using the Fall League experience to learn to attack hitters quickly.

"My fastball location is really good right now, early in the count," Tinoco said. "It's a little different because you don't know what day you're going to pitch, but I feel good."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page. Daniel Kramer and Jake Rill contributed.

Colorado Rockies, Jesus Tinoco

Lawrence thriving since working with Reed

Rockies pitching prospect learns from former sidearmer, set to pitch in AFL Fall Stars Game
MLB.com

DENVER -- The Rockies reached into their past to help righty relief pitcher Justin Lawrence possibly become a key part of their future.

12th-rounder Lawrence embraces change

DENVER -- The Rockies reached into their past to help righty relief pitcher Justin Lawrence possibly become a key part of their future.

12th-rounder Lawrence embraces change

Lawrence was the Rockies' 12th-round Draft pick in 2015 and has an interesting backstory: He struggled at Jacksonville University, then transferred to Daytona State (junior college) and became a low sidearm pitcher while attracting scouting interest. His pro career started slowly, but in the last two seasons, Lawrence, the Rockies' No. 17 prospect, has posted ERAs of 1.65 in 2017 and 2.65 in '18 at two Class A levels.

In Arizona Fall League play, Lawrence -- who needs to be added to the Rockies' 40-man roster, and should be a prime Rule 5 Draft candidate if he isn't -- has a 3.52 ERA in seven appearances, and he has been chosen to represent the Rockies for Saturday night's AFL Fall Stars Game.

Vlad Jr., Whitley highlight Fall Stars Game rosters

To help Lawrence, who turns 24 on Nov. 25, the Rockies enlisted former Major League sidearm reliever Steve Reed to work with him at the start of his career. Lawrence's fastball has improved to 96-99 mph consistently, and he hit 100 mph twice during this past season at Class A Advanced Lancaster and six times in AFL play, which makes him difficult for right-handed hitters. He also is competitive against left-handers because he has maintained the solid changeup that was part of the package when he made strides in college.

"A lot of that was delivery work, and work over the rubber -- Steve really helped him take the next step," Rockies senior player development director Zach Wilson said. "Steve, being a sidearmer himself, he's got expertise in that area. Even the best pitching coaches, teaching a sidearm guy is difficult. The fact we were able to get Steve on board really helped Justin take it to the next level."

Lawrence researched Reed, who spent seven years over two stints with the Rockies and pitched for six other teams, and found it encouraging that the organization saw enough to have Reed tutor him. Reed taught Lawrence to monitor his stride, keep his body closed and make sure his momentum stays toward the plate rather than fall to the side.

"From an organizational standpoint, it really showed a commitment from the Rockies in my development," Lawrence said. "They didn't have to do that for me. They went out of their way to fly a guy out to work with me for two or three days. It really pushed me to continue on, because I believe in myself and they believe in me the same way. It goes hand in hand.

"It's getting to the point where everything is starting to click and make sense. I feel a bit more in control with everything I'm doing."

The Fall Stars Game is a chance for Lawrence to show his rapid development.

"The level of talent here is the best by far I have ever seen, so to represent my entire organization in this game is an absolute honor," he said.

Exhibition in Albuquerque
The Rockies will play an exhibition game in Albuquerque, N.M., against the Triple-A Isotopes on March 25, 2019, the parent club and the affiliate announced Thursday during a news conference in Albuquerque. It will be the Rockies' first exhibition game at Isotopes Park since they became affiliated with the club in 2015, and their first appearance in Albuquerque since '10, when they met the Mariners.

It'll be one of two games the Rockies will play after breaking camp in Scottsdale, Ariz. They'll meet the Twins at CenturyLink Sports Complex on March 26 -- two days before the Rockies open the regular season at Miami.

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

Colorado Rockies

Nevin looks to sustain AFL success, health

MLB.com

The Arizona Fall League offers a chance for players who were injured during the season to accumulate extra at-bats or innings on the field. Unfortunately for Tyler Nevin, that's an opportunity that he has needed to take advantage of more often than he would like.

A Rockies supplemental first-round Draft pick out of Poway, Calif., in 2015, Nevin has missed time during each of his first three full pro seasons. Severe hamstring issues limited the corner infielder to just one game in 2016, a wrist injury knocked him out for two months in 2017 and he spent two stints on the disabled list this summer with a quadriceps strain.

The Arizona Fall League offers a chance for players who were injured during the season to accumulate extra at-bats or innings on the field. Unfortunately for Tyler Nevin, that's an opportunity that he has needed to take advantage of more often than he would like.

A Rockies supplemental first-round Draft pick out of Poway, Calif., in 2015, Nevin has missed time during each of his first three full pro seasons. Severe hamstring issues limited the corner infielder to just one game in 2016, a wrist injury knocked him out for two months in 2017 and he spent two stints on the disabled list this summer with a quadriceps strain.

Arizona Fall League overviews for all 30 teams

"Every offseason it's like, 'Hey, what can I do to stay on the field?' because when I've stayed on the field, I've had some success," said Nevin, who also lost his entire junior season in high school following Tommy John surgery. "That's what I just love doing is playing. I've developed a good routine with my trainers this year and I'm going to continue it through the rest of my career. I've got to stay on the field, that's just the bottom line."

Nevin has been productive when healthy. He batted .328/.386/.503 at Class A Advanced Lancaster this year, ranking second in the California League in batting and fourth in slugging percentage and OPS. His numbers weren't just the product of Lancaster's The Hangar, which might be the most hitter-friendly environment in the Minors, as he posted .340/.397/.454 numbers on the road.

Nevin has stood out with the Salt River Rafters during the first two weeks of AFL play as well. He's batting .421/.500/.474, ranking third in the league in hitting, while walking four times with just one strikeout in 24 plate appearances.

The son of former No. 1 overall pick and current Yankees third-base coach Phil Nevin, Tyler benefitted from growing up around the game. He has a mature approach at the plate, working counts and concentrating on driving balls in the gaps rather than worrying about home runs. He began his pro career at third base but because of the organization's depth at the position, starting with superstar Nolan Arenado, he has seen more action at first base the last two years.

"He'll still play some third base, but he'll spend a lot of time at first base," Rockies farm director Zach Wilson said. "We think he'll be a very good first baseman because he has good feet and hands. He has a great swing, and the power will come because he has a projectable body."

Rockies hitters in the Fall League

Josh Fuentes, 3B/1B -- A first cousin of Nolan Arenado, Fuentes won the 2018 Pacific Coast League MVP award after batting .327/.354/.517 and leading the Triple-A circuit in runs (93), hits (180), doubles (39), extra-base hits (65) and total bases (285). Signed as a undrafted free agent out of Missouri Baptist in 2014, Fuentes doesn't have a standout tool, but has some hitting ability and gap power and can play a decent third base.

Sam Hilliard, OF -- Originally drafted as a left-handed pitcher from Crowder (Mo.) JC by the Twins in 2014, Hilliard signed as an outfielder out of Wichita State in the 15th round a year later. He's a toolsy right fielder who hits left-handed -- prompting Larry Walker comparisons from one club official -- and he hit .262/.327/.389 with nine homers and 23 steals in Double-A this year.

Video: Top Prospects: Sam Hilliard, OF, Rockies

Rockies pitchers in the Fall League

Ryan Castellani, RHP -- After leading his leagues in innings and strikeouts as the youngest ERA qualifier in his circuit the previous two years, Castellani got knocked around in 2018, logging a 5.49 ERA with 91 strikeouts and 70 walks in 134 1/3 innings while repeating Double-A. A 2014 second-round pick out of Phoenix, Ariz., he has a low-90s fastball with run and sink and flashes a solid slider.

Mitch Horacek, LHP -- Signed by the Orioles as a ninth-rounder out of Dartmouth in 2013, Horacek came to the Rockies as a Triple-A Rule 5 Draft pick last December. A finesse southpaw with a low-90s fastball and a slider that neutralizes lefties, he had a 2.20 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 61 1/3 innings as a Double-A reliever.

Justin Lawrence, RHP -- A 12th-round pick out of Daytona State (Fla.) JC in 2015, Lawrence throws from a low arm slot and deals 94-98 mph sinkers and a short slider in the low 80s. He led the Class A Advanced California League in appearances (55) and holds (12) while posting a 2.65 ERA, .188 opponents' average and 62 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings.

Jesus Tinoco, RHP -- Part of the Troy Tulowitzki trade with the Blue Jays in 2015, Tinoco can reach 97 mph with his fastball and back it up with a pair of power breaking balls, though he lacks consistency. The Venezuelan recorded a 4.79 ERA with 132 strikeouts and 38 walks in 141 innings this season at Double-A.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Colorado Rockies

Rockies' No. 2 prospect Welker takes big step

Third baseman, just turned 21, led California League in batting average
MLB.com

DENVER -- Third-base prospect Colton Welker was happy to establish himself in 2018 as an important part of the Rockies' next wave of infielders.

Welker, a fourth-round Draft pick in 2016, led the Class A Advanced California League in batting at .333 and rose to become Colorado's No. 2 prospect according to MLB Pipeline. Counting No. 1 prospect Brendan Rodgers, seven of the team's top 13 prospects are infielders. Welker and infielder Garrett Hampson (No. 4), who debuted in the Majors this season, were both taken in the 2016 Draft.

DENVER -- Third-base prospect Colton Welker was happy to establish himself in 2018 as an important part of the Rockies' next wave of infielders.

Welker, a fourth-round Draft pick in 2016, led the Class A Advanced California League in batting at .333 and rose to become Colorado's No. 2 prospect according to MLB Pipeline. Counting No. 1 prospect Brendan Rodgers, seven of the team's top 13 prospects are infielders. Welker and infielder Garrett Hampson (No. 4), who debuted in the Majors this season, were both taken in the 2016 Draft.

"You got guys like Hampson, who was at my level last year and just debuted this year who is just an all-around amazing player, a utility player who can play any infield position to a high level," said Welker, who turned 21 on Oct. 9. "You've got Brendan Rodgers, who's a phenom and is going to be a great player. We've got corner guys at every level. The future looks great in Colorado in my eyes."

Welker put himself squarely among the Rockies' top prospects with a solid season for Class A Advanced Lancaster that also included 45 extra-base hits (13 homers, 32 doubles) and 82 RBIs (good for fourth in the California League) while posting a .383 on-base percentage and .489 slugging percentage.

After being limited to 67 games at Class A Asheville in 2017, his first full pro season, by a lower abdominal injury, Welker appeared 114 times in '18. More games meant a greater opportunity to learn.

"I definitely had some goals this season that I accomplished -- to hit over .300," Welker said. "I think I'm a big-time average hitter, and the power will come as I get older. Just stick with my approach: balls in the gaps.

"I was born to hit for average, because of how my swing plays and how long my barrel stays in the zone. Eventually, it will lead to power as well. But as of right now, it will play at any level for the average."

Watch: MiLB Video

Senior player development director Zach Wilson liked Welker's endurance.

"What he did at that level was quite remarkable for a 20-year-old kid," Wilson said. "He has an advanced approach to hitting, a mature approach to defense and really stayed within himself throughout the entire season and playoffs."

Welker also demonstrated an ability to move his feet and a strong arm that suggest he can stay at third base as he advances.

"I'm really happy with how I played third base this year, because that was a big question mark coming into the year. 'Can he stick at third base?'" Welker said. "A lot of guys outgrow it or lose their feel a little bit. I don't want to be that guy."

Welker freely notes that he is a draftee out of high school while the Rockies have Nolan Arenado, an established star, at third base. Welker is more interested in following Arenado's example than one day vying for his job. For now, he is representing said high school -- Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Fla., which was affected by a shooting tragedy on Feb. 14.

Video: Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS alum Welker on tragedy

"The baseball team and the coaches, we talk frequently, and they're doing well over there, kind of turning the page," Welker said. "On my end, it's nice to perform and give people piece of mind to say, 'He went to our high school.'

"It's something good to talk about other than the mass shooting. I use that platform to broadcast the school in a good way, like Anthony Rizzo and other people like that."

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

Colorado Rockies

Pipeline names Rockies' Prospects of the Year

MLB.com

DENVER -- While top prospect lists are mostly populated with high MLB Draft picks or top international signings, two lower-round picks -- first baseman Roberto Ramos and right-handed pitcher Rico Garcia -- earned the Rockies' Hitting and Pitching Prospect of the Year designations, respectively.

Each team's Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLB Pipeline staff, based on performance during the 2018 season more than Major League potential. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors and appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list.

DENVER -- While top prospect lists are mostly populated with high MLB Draft picks or top international signings, two lower-round picks -- first baseman Roberto Ramos and right-handed pitcher Rico Garcia -- earned the Rockies' Hitting and Pitching Prospect of the Year designations, respectively.

Each team's Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLB Pipeline staff, based on performance during the 2018 season more than Major League potential. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors and appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

Unranked on the Rockies' Top 30 at the start of the season, Garcia, 24, earned the Rockies' No. 21 ranking and Ramos, 23, took the No. 23 spot in the July re-ranking on MLB Pipeline.

Both were selected by scouting vice president Bill Schmidt and the scouting staff out of unheralded collegiate programs. Ramos, a native of Hermosillo, Mexico, was a 16th-rounder in 2014 out of College of the Canyons, a two-year school in Santa Carita, Calif., and Garcia is a Honolulu native seeking to become the second player from Hawaii Pacific University to make the Majors. Former Rockies outfielder Benny Agbayani was the first.

Listed at 6-5 and 220 pounds, the left-handed hitting Ramos found his power this season.

Last year at Class A Lancaster, Ramos batted .297 with a .351 on-base percentage, but his 13 home runs and 124 strikeouts suggested adjustment was in order. This season, through 60 games at Lancaster, he hit 17 home runs and, although he had 65 strikeouts, batted .304 with a .411 on-base and a .640 slugging percentage. The performance earned him a promotion to Double-A Hartford, where he slashed .231/.320/.503 and struck out 75 times, but he powered 15 home runs in 61 games.

Ramos might be a work in progress, but he made notable progress in 2018.

Watch: MiLB Video

"He made a nice adjustment with his approach. He wasn't attacking pitches as aggressively and he was laying off more than ever pitches out of his attack zone," Rockies senior player development director Zach Wilson said. "Because he made these small adjustments on his approach he was able to barrel up more balls. His natural power led to some pretty good home run numbers.

"He's got power to all fields and can take the fastball on the outer half to left and left-center. And if you hang a breaking ball, you're in trouble. He's done a much better job laying off good breaking balls. He had some issues in the past with that, as you see with the strikeout numbers, but he's begun to clean that up."

The Rockies generally want their prospects to play multiple positions, but Wilson said the right-handed throwing Ramos profiles strictly at first base. Wilson said Ramos "moves around OK" and has soft hands, and is trying to improve his agility and range defensively.

Garcia is not big -- listed at 5-11, 190 -- but has increased his arm strength since college.

The result was a solid year at Lancaster (7-7, 3.42 ERA while starting 15 of his 16 games, 101 strikeouts in 100 innings pitched) and Hartford (6-2, 2.28 in 11 starts, 61 strikeouts in 67 innings)

Watch: MiLB Video

"He has really made some solid delivery adjustments over the past couple of years, which has allowed his velocity to increase," Wilson said. "We've gotten him away from the college routine and into a very good throwing program, with bullpens between starts. All that has allowed him to go from 89-93 [mph] to, now, 94-96 and even touch 97. He has an above-average breaking ball and has developed a decent changeup.

"He was able to carve up the Cal League, and he earned a promotion and continued his very good year at Hartford. He's the real deal, and he's going to continue to get better because he's such a competitor."

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

Colorado Rockies

Rockies instructional league roster, schedule

MLB.com

At the end of each season, Major League clubs hold instructional league play, commonly known as instructs, an extended mini-camp that allows Minor Leaguers -- particularly those just starting their pro careers at the lower levels of their team's system -- to get some work in before calling it a year. Players work on specific parts of their game and get offseason workout plans while often playing a handful of games against nearby teams to provide low-key competition to put what they are working on into practice.

At the end of each season, Major League clubs hold instructional league play, commonly known as instructs, an extended mini-camp that allows Minor Leaguers -- particularly those just starting their pro careers at the lower levels of their team's system -- to get some work in before calling it a year. Players work on specific parts of their game and get offseason workout plans while often playing a handful of games against nearby teams to provide low-key competition to put what they are working on into practice.

Instructional league rosters

Here's a look at the Rockies roster, with the players' rank in the team's Top 30 Prospects list in parentheses:

PITCHERS: Jake Bird, RHP; Jacob Bosiokovic, RHP; Nick Bush, LHP; Joel Condreay, RHP; Tommy Doyle, RHP (No. 30); Breiling Eusebio, LHP (No. 19); Ryan Feltner, RHP; Eris Filpo, RHP; Will Gaddis, RHP (No. 28); Alfredo Garcia, LHP; Colton Hathcock, RHP; Boby Johnson, RHP; Mitchell Kilkenny, RHP; Shelby Lackey, RHP; Braxton Lorenzini, RHP; Alexander Martinez, RHP; Pearson McMahan, RHP; Alejandro Mejia, LHP; Riley Pint, RHP (No. 5); PJ Poulin, LHP; Andrew Quezada, RHP; Ryan Rolison, LHP (No. 6); Colten Schmidt, LHP; Rayne Supple, RHP; Will Tribucher, LHP

CATCHERS: Austin Bernard, C; Javier Guevara, C/1B; Willie MacIver, C; Nic Motley, C

INFIELDERS: Reese Berberet, 3B/1B; Bret Boswell, INF (No. 29); Marco Castilla, 1B; John Cresto, INF; Todd Czinege, UTIL; Kyle Datres, INF; Eddy Diaz, INF; Trey Jacobs, INF; Grant Lavigne, 1B (No. 9); Robbie Metz, INF; Coco Montes, INF; Cristopher Navarro, SS/2B; Hunter Stovall, UTIL; Alan Trejo, INF; Terrin Vavra, SS/2B (No. 13); Ryan Vilade, SS/3B (No. 7); Colton Welker, 3B (No. 3)

OUTFIELDERS: Niko Decolati; Casey Golden; Will Golsan; Cade Harris; Matt Hearn; Shael Mendoza; Daniel Montano (No. 26); Luke Morgan; Yolki Pena

SCHEDULE
Thu, Sept. 20 - Camp day
Fri, Sept. 21 - Camp day
Sat, Sept. 22 - Camp day
Sun, Sept. 23 - Camp day
Mon, Sept. 24 - Camp day
Tue, Sept. 25 - Camp day
Wed, Sept. 26 - Camp day
Thu, Sept. 27 - Camp day
Fri, Sept. 28 - Camp day
Sat, Sept. 29 - Camp day
Sun, Sept. 30 - Camp day
Mon, Oct. 1 - Camp day
Tue, Oct. 2 - Camp day
Wed, Oct. 3 - Camp day
Thu, Oct. 4 - Camp day
Fri, Oct. 5 - Camp day
Sat, Oct. 6 - Camp day

Colorado Rockies

Rodgers headlines Rox in Arizona Fall League

MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- Infielder Brendan Rodgers, the Rockies' No. 1 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline and the No. 6 prospect in the Minors overall, will highlight a list of seven Rockies who will play with the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League.

Rodgers, 22, has hit a combined .264 with 17 home runs and 65 RBIs at Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque, and will be part of a Rafters team that is comprised of players from the D-backs, Marlins, Nationals and Twins organizations, and will play home games at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

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SAN DIEGO -- Infielder Brendan Rodgers, the Rockies' No. 1 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline and the No. 6 prospect in the Minors overall, will highlight a list of seven Rockies who will play with the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League.

Rodgers, 22, has hit a combined .264 with 17 home runs and 65 RBIs at Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque, and will be part of a Rafters team that is comprised of players from the D-backs, Marlins, Nationals and Twins organizations, and will play home games at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

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Rodgers started the season hitting .275 with 17 home runs and 62 RBIs at Double-A Hartford. In 17 Triple-A games, he has batted .206 with three RBIs. He missed 10 days in Triple-A in August with a left hamstring injury -- a problem he experienced in Hartford. Rodgers appeared in his first Major League camp this season.

Complete Arizona Fall League rosters

Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich said Rodgers, who has extensive experience at shortstop and second base, will play around the infield, as much as the roster structure allows. 

"He'll definitely get some work at third to further that development, and over the course of that season he'll play a little bit of everywhere in the infield, except first base," said Bridich, who indicated Rodgers' hamstring issues are just part of learning to handle the rigors of a long professional season.

Joining Rodgers with the Rafters are outfielder Sam Hilliard, the Rockies' No. 9 prospect; righty pitchers Ryan Castellani (No. 10), Justin Lawrence (No. 17) and Jesus Tinoco (No. 20); lefty pitcher Mitch Horacek; and corner infielder Josh Fuentes.

Hilliard, 24, who's listed at 6-5 and 225 pounds, was a pitcher and position player before the Rockies selected him in the 15th round in the 2015 Draft out of Wichita State. After hitting .300 with 21 home runs and 37 stolen bases at Class A Advanced Lancaster last year, Hilliard is hitting .258 with eight homers and 23 steals at Double-A Hartford.

Castellani, 22, a second-round pick out of Phoenix Brophy Prep, was one of the youngest pitchers at Hartford last year and returned this year with mixed numbers (7-8, 5.40 ERA, 88 strikeouts, 67 walks).

Complete Arizona Fall League coverage

Lawrence, 23, who developed a unique arm slot before being drafted in the 12th round in 2015, has posted a 2.75 ERA with 60 strikeouts in 52 1/3 relief innings, and a .194 ERA against at Hartford. 

Horacek, 26, a Denver native, is 3-3 with a 2.11 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings at Hartford after the Rockies selected him from the Orioles in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft.

Tinoco, 23, obtained from the Blue Jays as part of the deal that sent away star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, is 8-12 with a 4.90 ERA in 25 starts at Hartford. The Rockies plan to introduce him to relief work in the AFL. The Rockies used a similar plan last season with righty Yency Almonte, who began this season as a Triple-A starter, but debuted in the Majors out of the bullpen. Bridich said the idea is not necessarily to convert Tinoco, but to broaden his experience and options.

Fuentes, 25, has had a standout performance at Triple-A Albuquerque (.318, 14 HR, 92 RBIs, 33 doubles, 12 triples) while becoming known for more than being a cousin of Rockies star third baseman Nolan Arenado. Not drafted out of Missouri Baptist in 2014, Fuentes has put himself on the Major League radar.

Anderson believes his command is returning

Rockies manager Bud Black announced that lefty Tyler Anderson, struggling with an 11.39 ERA in five August starts, will make his next start on Monday at home against the Giants. It will be eight days since his last start, when he gave up seven hits and six runs and didn't escape the first inning in a home loss to the Cardinals.

In search of the command that has escaped him this month, Anderson (6-7, 4.79) threw a bullpen session on Thursday and reported making progress.

"When you're working on your command, you've got to try to throw everything where you want it, and it went really good," Anderson said.

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

Colorado Rockies

Rockies don't swing any last-minute deals

Club stands pat with last week's trade for reliever Oh
MLB.com

DENVER -- The non-waiver Trade Deadline passed Tuesday without the Rockies making a last-minute move, which means they will count on the moves of the winter -- not all of which have worked so far -- and last week's deal for righty reliever Seunghwan Oh to pan out to keep the team in the postseason race.

If Deadline-period activity is the goal, the Rockies fell far behind the Dodgers, who obtained a possible game-changer in infielder Manny Machado, second baseman Brian Dozier and relief pitcher John Axford, and the D-backs, who obtained switch-hitting infielder Eduardo Escobar and relief pitchers Matt Andriese, Jake Diekman and Brad Ziegler while adding more than $6 million to the payroll. But the actual goal is winning the National League West -- where the Rockies entered Tuesday trailing the first-place Dodgers by a game and the D-backs by a half-game.

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DENVER -- The non-waiver Trade Deadline passed Tuesday without the Rockies making a last-minute move, which means they will count on the moves of the winter -- not all of which have worked so far -- and last week's deal for righty reliever Seunghwan Oh to pan out to keep the team in the postseason race.

If Deadline-period activity is the goal, the Rockies fell far behind the Dodgers, who obtained a possible game-changer in infielder Manny Machado, second baseman Brian Dozier and relief pitcher John Axford, and the D-backs, who obtained switch-hitting infielder Eduardo Escobar and relief pitchers Matt Andriese, Jake Diekman and Brad Ziegler while adding more than $6 million to the payroll. But the actual goal is winning the National League West -- where the Rockies entered Tuesday trailing the first-place Dodgers by a game and the D-backs by a half-game.

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Last week, when discussing the acquisition of Oh from the Blue Jays for Minor League outfielder Forrest Wall and first baseman Chad Spanberger, Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich clearly stated that he wasn't going to play a game of GM see, GM do.

"In terms of the people involved, in terms of the money involved, in terms of the opportunity costs that are involved, up and down the organization, reactionary decision-making is really a very risky proposition to adhere to," Bridich said. "And so I think the other part of it is honest and accurate self-evaluation is critical."

But this is not to say Bridich spent the final hours leading to Tuesday's Deadline admiring his handiwork. Manager Bud Black said there was activity, but it didn't result in deals.

"I'm in St. Louis, our front-office staff is in Denver, and they've been busy, just like all other 29 teams," Black said. "A lot of times, things don't work out. You try awful hard to do things and they don't happen because there's not a match, there's not a fit, there's not a pathway."

The way the Rockies have operated this year serves as a window into why making a deal can be difficult. For example:

• Prospects and other low-service-time players such as Garrett Hampson, infielder Ryan McMahon, catcher Tom Murphy, and outfielder Noel Cuevas, David Dahl and Raimel Tapia all have had a hand in victories. Employing such players, who have been up and down between Triple-A and the Majors, saves payroll.

• Under that philosophy, Bridich said, "Once you're at the Double- and Triple-A levels, really for any organization, you're basically on the Major League radar. We tell our kids that. That's part of their reality, and we live by that, too. We don't forget that."

• That said, it would have taken a major haul for the Rockies to give up infielder Brendan Rodgers, the team's top prospect, according to MLB Pipeline; or righty Peter Lambert, ranked No. 2. Both are at Triple-A Albuquerque and, theoretically, could be counted upon at the end of this season.

So, what does all this mean?

The first onus is on the left side of the bullpen. Jake McGee, in the second year of a three-year, $27 million contract, has a 6.11 ERA after giving up a walk-off homer to the Cardinals' Marcell Ozuna in Monday night's 5-4 loss. Chris Rusin is on the disabled list with left foot plantar fasciitis and has a 6.81 ERA; his simulated game was moved from Tuesday to Wednesday because of a rainy afternoon. Mike Dunn has left A/C joint inflammation and isn't eligible to return until Sept. 5.

Righty Bryan Shaw has a solid history against lefties, but has not performed as well this year. As an indication of how difficult the situation is, righty Scott Oberg, already taxed Monday, was the choice to face Matt Carpenter in the seventh. Carpenter delivered a two-run, game-tying single.

"Those fellows have been around," Black said. "They know what this is about. They know their own personal expectations are a lot of times higher than what's on the outside."

Of course, deals can still occur. A player can be traded after going unclaimed on waivers, and if he is with his new team by Aug. 31 at 9:59 MT, he can participate in the postseason.

Veteran outfielder Carlos Gonzalez noted that the winning difference could come from veteran first baseman-outfielder Matt Holliday, who was signed over the weekend to a Minor League deal, a prospect or a waiver acquisition. Gonzalez, who noted the Astros won it all after getting pitcher Justin Verlander  after the non-waiver Trade Deadline last season, is more interested in achievement than activity.

"Not every trade works the way you always plan it," Gonzalez said. "Some trades obviously will make you a World Series champion. Some other trades will make you a loser."

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

Colorado Rockies

Big names pepper Double-A All-Star rosters

Vlad Jr., Bichette, Tebow among headliners for Eastern League event
MLB.com

A handful of MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects headline the Double-A Eastern League All-Star Game rosters that were announced Friday. Toronto top prospects Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, and Colorado's Brendan Rodgers and Peter Lambert are among those on the stacked Eastern Division roster, while Detroit's Beau Burrows leads the Western Division roster.

Also included is Mets outfield prospect and former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who is in one of his most productive stretches of the season with a hit in his past six games. Tebow is hitting .261/.335/.398 this year with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies. He has five home runs and 30 RBIs in 67 games.

A handful of MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects headline the Double-A Eastern League All-Star Game rosters that were announced Friday. Toronto top prospects Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, and Colorado's Brendan Rodgers and Peter Lambert are among those on the stacked Eastern Division roster, while Detroit's Beau Burrows leads the Western Division roster.

Also included is Mets outfield prospect and former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who is in one of his most productive stretches of the season with a hit in his past six games. Tebow is hitting .261/.335/.398 this year with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies. He has five home runs and 30 RBIs in 67 games.

Guerrero Jr., the No. 2 prospect in baseball per MLB Pipeline, is a third baseman batting .407 with 11 homers for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, and his teammate, No. 8 overall prospect Bichette, is hitting .280/.344/.447. Guerrero Jr. hasn't played since June 6, however, because of a left knee strain and might not be able to participate. Bichette, a shortstop, ranks second in the Double-A circuit with 85 hits.

Rodgers, the No. 7 prospect in baseball and the Rockies' top prospect, has hit 14 homers for Hartford, tied for fifth in the league, and has a .277/.333/.514 slash line.

Lambert, a Rockies right-hander, has a league-leading 2.23 ERA for the Yard Goats and is No. 91 on Pipeline's Top 100. In 92 2/3 innings, Lambert has struck out 75 and walked only 12. The announcement notes that Lambert will be unable to participate in the game, however, perhaps with a promotion to Triple-A Albuquerque on the horizon.

No. 66 prospect Beau Burrows, a right-hander ranked fourth in the Tigers' organization, is 6-5 with the Erie SeaWolves and has a 3.33 ERA. Burrows earned his spot with 65 strikeouts in 75 2/3 innings this season.

The All-Star Game will take place on July 11 at Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton, N.J.

Anne Rogers is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow her on Twitter at @anne__rogers.

Toronto Blue Jays, New York Mets, Colorado Rockies, Detroit Tigers, Bo Bichette, Beau Burrows, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Peter Lambert, Brendan Rodgers, Tim Tebow

Almonte called up, gets key outs in MLB debut

After hitting go-ahead HR Wednesday, McMahon optioned to get regular playing time
MLB.com

DENVER -- Righty pitcher Yency Almonte, the Rockies' No. 9 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, knew the waiting, striving and physical pain could be taxing if one allows it to be. So last July 4, he pinned a tweet:

"Don't rush anything to happen. Take it day by day and allow it to happen on its own"

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DENVER -- Righty pitcher Yency Almonte, the Rockies' No. 9 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, knew the waiting, striving and physical pain could be taxing if one allows it to be. So last July 4, he pinned a tweet:

"Don't rush anything to happen. Take it day by day and allow it to happen on its own"

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Tweet from @showtimealmonte: Don't rush anything to happen. Take it day by day and allow it to happen on its own

Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon, Almonte's introduction to the Major Leagues with the Rockies happened really fast.

The Rockies summoned Almonte, 24, from Triple-A Albuquerque as an extra pitcher to help a gassed bullpen. The club optioned left-handed-hitting infielder Ryan McMahon -- a day after his game-turning, three-run pinch-hit homer against the Mets Wednesday night -- to Albuquerque for consistent playing time.

It's not clear how long Almonte will be here, since the Rockies are expected to call up a position player for Friday's opener of three games against the Marlins. But Almonte was needed in Thursday's 6-4 win over the Mets.

With runners at first and third with no outs in the eighth and a three-run lead, Almonte not only entered the game; he thrived. He forced a Wilmer Flores sacrifice fly and worked Devin Mesoraco into an inning-ending double play.

"Real different," Almonte said of the high-leverage big league experience.

Video: NYM@COL: Flores skies a sacrifice fly to right field

Almonte displayed a fastball, which topped at 96.9 mph twice, on 11 of his 12 pitches. He has a tight slider and a slurve that can be a wipeout pitch when thrown consistently. But catcher Chris Iannetta's repeated fastball calls were consistent with his directive to attack the strike zone.

"I feel like they brought me in today to help out, and I came in a tight situation and got the job done," Almonte said. "I know a lot of guys here have a lot of time in the big leagues and they know what they're doing. I'm just glad I could help."

After being traded twice for Major League talent earlier in his career and struggling through a right elbow nerve issue and a right shoulder impingement earlier this season, Almonte was shocked to receive the call late Wednesday night.

Video: Almonte on getting called up to big leagues

It was late in his native Miami, but Almonte reached his father, Ramon Almonte, who runs a baseball academy there, and a guy who really knows about the frustrating climb -- his brother, Denny Almonte.

A Mariners second-round pick in 2007 as an outfielder, Denny Almonte made it to Triple-A, but suffered a meniscus injury and then a hamstring blowout. After trying to keep the dream alive in independent ball, Denny joined his dad training future players and earned sports agent certification.

Yency Almonte said, "He was like, 'Congratulations, you made it farther than I did. That was my dream, and I'm going to live it through you.' It's pretty much a blessing."

Originally drafted in the 17th round by the Angels in 2012, Almonte was traded to the White Sox for infielder Gordon Beckham before the '15 season, and from the White Sox to the Rockies for pitcher Tommy Kahnle after that season.

With Albuquerque this year, Almonte is 1-4 with a 6.27 ERA in nine starts in a season twice interrupted by disabled list stints. But he went six innings in each of his last two starts, and he was in position to help the Rockies win Thursday.

More action for McMahon
McMahon's homer came in his first at-bat since changing his bat angle in his setup -- an adjustment the coaches spotted on video. For it to take, the left-handed-hitting McMahon will need playing time.

But with the Rockies facing Mets lefty Steven Matz on Thursday and scheduled to face lefty starters for two of the three home games this weekend against the Marlins and most likely two of the three games against the Giants next week, manager Bud Black determined that McMahon would not see many starts in the Majors.

Video: NYM@COL: McMahon drills a pinch-hit 3-run HR to right

McMahon, 23, who is expected to be a key contributor, is departing with some success under his belt. His first two Major League homers came in his last seven at-bats. Wednesday's homer -- the pull shot into the Coors Field bullpen that the Rockies have wanted to see -- came on an 86.5-mph changeup from Mets righty Robert Gsellman.

Black said "much-needed playing time" could help McMahon hone his swing so it can catch up to pitches with more steam. McMahon must stay down at least 10 days unless an injury forces his return.

"It was a good confidence builder," Black said of McMahon's homer. "He got a hold of that high changeup in the middle and hit a ball to right field with some authority. You saw the excitement on Mac's face when he crossed home plate and came into the dugout. That was awesome."

Dunn to begin rehab
Lefty reliever Mike Dunn, who has missed the last 13 games with an upper back injury, said he will join Albuquerque at Fresno on Saturday for an injury rehab assignment.

Dunn has a 9.00 ERA in 23 games, but the back problems occurred during a nine-game scoreless streak. His performance suffered when he kept pitching through the pain.

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

Colorado Rockies, Yency Almonte