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Where Rockies' Top 30 prospects are starting season

MLB.com

With the 2018 season getting started, here's a look at where the Rockies' Top 30 prospects are projected to start the season:

1. Brendan Rodgers (MLB No. 14), SS/2B -- Hartford Yard Goats (AA)
2. Ryan McMahon (MLB No. 41), 1B/2B/3B -- Colorado Rockies (MLB)
3. Riley Pint (MLB No. 100), RHP -- Asheville Tourists (A)
4. Colton Welker, 3B -- Lancaster JetHawks (A Adv)
5. Peter Lambert, RHP -- Hartford Yard Goats (AA)
6. Ryan Vilade, SS -- Asheville Tourists (A)
7. Garrett Hampson, 2B/SS -- Hartford Yard Goats (AA)
8. Ryan Castellani, RHP -- Hartford Yard Goats (AA)
9. Tyler Nevin, 1B/3B -- Lancaster JetHawks (A Adv)
10. Yency Almonte, RHP -- Albuquerque Isotopes (AAA)
11. Tom Murphy, C -- Albuquerque Isotopes (AAA)
12. Sam Hilliard, OF -- Hartford Yard Goats (AA)
13. Breiling Eusebio, LHP -- Asheville Tourists (A)
14. Jesus Tinoco, RHP -- Hartford Yard Goats (AA)
15. Forrest Wall, OF -- Lancaster JetHawks (A Adv)
16. Will Gaddis, RHP -- Asheville Tourists (A)
17. Sam Howard, LHP -- Albuquerque Isotopes (AAA)
18. Brian Mundell, 1B -- Hartford Yard Goats (AA)
19. Daniel Montano, OF -- Extended spring training
20. Yonathan Daza, OF -- Hartford Yard Goats (AA)
21. Jordan Patterson, OF/1B -- Albuquerque Isotopes (AAA)
22. Dom Nunez, C -- Hartford Yard Goats (AA)
23. Jairo Diaz, RHP -- Albuquerque Isotopes (AAA)
24. Ben Bowden, LHP -- Asheville Tourists (A)
25. Chad Spanberger, 1B -- Asheville Tourists (A)
26. Wes Rogers, OF -- Hartford Yard Goats (AA)
27. Willie Abreu, OF -- Lancaster JetHawks (A Adv)
28. Shael Mendoza, OF -- Asheville Tourists (A)
29. Vince Fernandez, OF -- Lancaster JetHawks (A Adv)
30. Mike Nikorak, RHP -- Extended spring training

With the 2018 season getting started, here's a look at where the Rockies' Top 30 prospects are projected to start the season:

1. Brendan Rodgers (MLB No. 14), SS/2B -- Hartford Yard Goats (AA)
2. Ryan McMahon (MLB No. 41), 1B/2B/3B -- Colorado Rockies (MLB)
3. Riley Pint (MLB No. 100), RHP -- Asheville Tourists (A)
4. Colton Welker, 3B -- Lancaster JetHawks (A Adv)
5. Peter Lambert, RHP -- Hartford Yard Goats (AA)
6. Ryan Vilade, SS -- Asheville Tourists (A)
7. Garrett Hampson, 2B/SS -- Hartford Yard Goats (AA)
8. Ryan Castellani, RHP -- Hartford Yard Goats (AA)
9. Tyler Nevin, 1B/3B -- Lancaster JetHawks (A Adv)
10. Yency Almonte, RHP -- Albuquerque Isotopes (AAA)
11. Tom Murphy, C -- Albuquerque Isotopes (AAA)
12. Sam Hilliard, OF -- Hartford Yard Goats (AA)
13. Breiling Eusebio, LHP -- Asheville Tourists (A)
14. Jesus Tinoco, RHP -- Hartford Yard Goats (AA)
15. Forrest Wall, OF -- Lancaster JetHawks (A Adv)
16. Will Gaddis, RHP -- Asheville Tourists (A)
17. Sam Howard, LHP -- Albuquerque Isotopes (AAA)
18. Brian Mundell, 1B -- Hartford Yard Goats (AA)
19. Daniel Montano, OF -- Extended spring training
20. Yonathan Daza, OF -- Hartford Yard Goats (AA)
21. Jordan Patterson, OF/1B -- Albuquerque Isotopes (AAA)
22. Dom Nunez, C -- Hartford Yard Goats (AA)
23. Jairo Diaz, RHP -- Albuquerque Isotopes (AAA)
24. Ben Bowden, LHP -- Asheville Tourists (A)
25. Chad Spanberger, 1B -- Asheville Tourists (A)
26. Wes Rogers, OF -- Hartford Yard Goats (AA)
27. Willie Abreu, OF -- Lancaster JetHawks (A Adv)
28. Shael Mendoza, OF -- Asheville Tourists (A)
29. Vince Fernandez, OF -- Lancaster JetHawks (A Adv)
30. Mike Nikorak, RHP -- Extended spring training

•  Rockies prospect coverage | Rockies Top 30 prospects stats

Team to watch
The Rockies sent several of their best prospects to Double-A Hartford. Shortstop/second baseman Brendan Rodgers ranks No. 14 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospect list after batting .336/.373/.567 in 89 games a year ago, including 38 with the Yard Goats. Right-handers Peter Lambert and Ryan Castellani may push for spots in an already crowded Colorado rotation at some point in 2019. Second baseman Garrett Hampson led the Minors with 113 runs in 2017 and ranked fourth with 51 steals, a category topped by outfielder Wes Rogers with 70. Outfielder Yonathan Diaz won the high Class A California League batting title last year at .341.

Where baseball's top prospects are starting the 2018 season

Teams on MiLB.TV
Albuquerque Isotopes
Hartford Yard Goats
Grand Junction Rockies

New faces
All of our Rockies Top 30 Prospects already have played for the organization. Outfielder Daniel Montano will make his U.S. debut this summer.

On the shelf
None of Colorado's Top 30 Prospects is opening the season on the disabled list, though right-hander Mike Nikorak is still in extended spring training as the 2015 first-rounder continues his comeback from Tommy John surgery last April.

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

Colorado Rockies

Right-hander Pint enters Top 100 prospects list

Bridich expresses confidence in Rockies' young starters
MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- Right-hander Riley Pint, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2016 Draft, moved into MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list on Monday. Pint will begin the '18 season where he spent last year, with Class A Asheville.

Pint, 20, went 2-11 with a 5.42 ERA in 93 innings over 22 starts last season, his first full year in the Minors. Rockies director of player development Zach Wilson said last season was a necessary education for Pint, ranked No. 3 in the Rockies' system by MLB Pipeline.

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SAN DIEGO -- Right-hander Riley Pint, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2016 Draft, moved into MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list on Monday. Pint will begin the '18 season where he spent last year, with Class A Asheville.

Pint, 20, went 2-11 with a 5.42 ERA in 93 innings over 22 starts last season, his first full year in the Minors. Rockies director of player development Zach Wilson said last season was a necessary education for Pint, ranked No. 3 in the Rockies' system by MLB Pipeline.

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"He's continuing to learn his delivery and understand his body," Wilson said. "This year, we're going to allow him to really unleash all of his weapons, so there won't be certain restrictions on him that there were last year in terms of pitch mix.

"Right now, it's about continued experience. There were bouts last year with success, and then there were bouts with some adversity. All those things helped make him better."

• MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects

Tweet from @MLBPipeline: With Jesse Winker graduating from @MLB's Top 100 Prospects list, #Rockies RHP Riley Pint enters: https://t.co/TuTZgd5PTS pic.twitter.com/hsKC3xQgxl

Pint's fastball has been clocked at over 100 mph, but his secondary pitches -- especially his changeup -- are far ahead of the heater. So the Rockies had Pint use last season to develop the fastball. A lot of is finding the right deliver for his growing body. Pint is listed at 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, but Wilson said he has grown to 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds. This year, there will be greater flexibility in pitch selection, although fastball command will still be a priority.

Wilson said it's not clear how big he will be when his growth stops, but he is confident that however big Pint ends up being, his understanding and effectiveness will grow.

"Right now, this is where he's going to start," Wilson said. "He's in a good place as we leave Spring Training. And really, it's not about where you start. It's about that cumulative effect, day after day, year after year of continuing to get better."

Rockies stick with their young arms
Even during their run to the Wild Card last season, the Rockies never made a move toward acquiring a veteran starting pitcher. They didn't do it during the offseason, nor did they seek experienced depth at the end of Spring Training even though their six pitchers on the current staff and Jeff Hoffman (working his way back from a shoulder injury) are the only starters on their 40-man roster who have started a Major League game.

Of course, an unfortunate run of injuries could cause the Rockies to reconsider. But beyond Hoffman, the Rockies' depth is at Triple-A Albuquerque in two pitchers on the 40-man -- righty Yency Almonte, their No. 10 prospect, and lefty Sam Howard, No. 17 -- plus non-roster right-hander Zach Jemiola and lefty Harrison Musgrave, who also could pitch as a reliever.

The fact that general manager Jeff Bridich's philosophy to develop pitchers first has resulted in confidence. Right-hander German Marquez is the only current Rockies starter not drafted or signed by the club, but he was acquired from the Rays before making the Majors. Almonte came in a trade with the White Sox.

Video: COL@ARI: Marquez freezes Goldschmidt in 1st

"If we can get guys who come into this organization, understand what our general philosophies are and how we need to do things to be successful, hopefully all that adds up to not just depth but also talent and performance," Bridich said.

So the Rockies are a bad week of injuries away from someone's big league debut. Almonte and Howard were being used as starters late in camp, while Musgrave was being introduced to relief-type work.

"Both Almonte and Howard -- in very specific ways for each guy -- showed growth from where they were last year," Bridich said. "They both came into camp ready to grow and ready to compete, so there are a lot of thoughts about both those guys as they left Major League camp and went to Triple-A. Is there still work to be done? Do they still need seasoning and certain things to happen before they're truly ready? Probably, but I would say it's nice to see their development."

Video: Top Prospects: Yency Almonte, RHP, Rockies

Injury updates
• Right-hander Carlos Estevez, who missed much of Spring Training with a left oblique injury, will throw a simulated game Tuesday at the Rockies' complex in Scottsdale, Ariz.

• Lefty Zac Rosscup has a wart on his left middle finger. He has taken an injection, and the Rockies are seeing if that works before trying other methods.

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

Top prospect Rodgers reassigned to Minors

Blackmon, Rusin win ping pong title; Black taking good look at three hitters
Special to MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Brendan Rodgers' first Spring Training in big league camp came to an end Tuesday morning.

The Rockies' top prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, was reassigned to Minor League camp along with second baseman Garrett Hampson, the team's No. 7 prospect, and catcher Jan Vazquez.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Brendan Rodgers' first Spring Training in big league camp came to an end Tuesday morning.

The Rockies' top prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, was reassigned to Minor League camp along with second baseman Garrett Hampson, the team's No. 7 prospect, and catcher Jan Vazquez.

Infielder/outfielder Jordan Patterson, the team's No. 21 prospect, was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque as part of the roster moves that left the Rockies with 39 players still in Major League camp.

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Rodgers, a 21-year-old middle infielder, hit .286 with three home runs and an .842 OPS in 49 Cactus League at-bats.

"My takeaway is that this was a great experience for him, and I can see why he is being talked about outside of our organization and inside our organization," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "He has a skillset that I think, hopefully, will play in the big leagues. But I told him there's still room to grow there and there's some things he has to take care of in player development to become the player we think he can become."

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Rodgers hit .336 with 18 homers between Class A Advanced Lancaster and Double-A Hartford last season, his third as a professional after the Rockies made him the No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 Draft.

Black specifically mentioned plate disciple, some fundamentals with his footwork and throwing mechanics as points of emphasis wherever Rodgers begins the season.

Rodgers, also ranked the No. 14 prospect in baseball and the No. 4 shortstop prospect, had been getting a lot of Cactus League experience, as had Hampson, rated the game's No. 7 second-base prospect. Hampson, 23 and a former third-round Draft pick, was hitting .278 with a homer in 36 at-bats and six stolen bases.

Champs of the small, white ball
The roars could be heard well down the hall from the weight room where nearly every Rockies player, coach and staff member gathered Tuesday morning. It was standing room only, and some took to the stairs and second level to get a good view.

In the middle of the room, Nolan Arenado and Rockies senior director of player development Zach Wilson squared off against Charlie Blackmon and Chris Rusin in the team's annual ping pong tournament championship. Every point elicited hollers of approval or condemnation -- none more so than when Wilson whiffed on a ball at shoulder level during a late rally.

Just a couple points later, though, it was over. Blackmon and Rusin prevailed 21-10, 16-21, 24-22.

"That was fun," said Blackmon, who got a bit contentious with Arenado at one point.

Video: Rockies' annual Spring Training table tennis tourney

Black, like everyone else in attendance, enjoyed what he witnessed.

"You saw what Charlie and Chris did: teamwork and perseverance and desire," Black said.

Wilson was the defending champ from last year's singles tournament after he beat Vinny Castilla, who is a special assistant to general manager Jeff Bridich, in the final.

Roster battle
Black has said he really wanted to get a good look at outfielders David Dahl and Mike Tauchman and corner infielder Ryan McMahon in the final 10 days of camp as they vie for a possible spot on the 25-man roster.

Dahl went 2-for-3 with a double in Tuesday's 4-4 tie against the Brewers, while McMahon had a pinch-hit double and Tauchman a pinch-hit single.

"A number of guys who are really fighting for a spot on the roster," Black said. "If not, they had a good spring and we know how they played this spring should carry over into their season, wherever they start."

Video: COL@TEX: McMahon clubs a two-run homer to left field

Where were you?
Jake McGee appeared in the MLB.com Edward Jones Chatting Cage on Tuesday and had a pretty funny answer when asked where he was on June 18 last season when Arenado clobbered a walk-off grand slam to complete his cycle.

"I was in the dugout. I didn't have a very good top half of that inning," McGee answered. "He kind of got me off the hook on that one."

Video: McGee discusses Arenado's work ethic, presence

Up next
After an off-day on Wednesday, Chad Bettis will take the mound Thursday against the A's at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa. Rusin, Adam Ottavino and Wade Davis also are scheduled to pitch, as well. The game can be followed live using Gameday, with first pitch at 2:05 p.m. MT.

Chris Gabel is a contributor to MLB.com.

Colorado Rockies, Garrett Hampson, Jordan Patterson, Brendan Rodgers

McMahon continues push to make 25-man roster

Star prospect, who can play multiple positions, homers to add to strong spring
MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Ryan McMahon figured that if a mid-Spring Training signing placed him squarely on the Rockies' roster bubble, and if all eyes would be on him to prove he can hit established Major League pitching, he might as well have fun with it.

For example, McMahon's average stayed near the .400 mark during the first half of Cactus League play, but the true test would be how he would do against top pitchers. The thought of a hit up the middle against Indians' two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, and another off the Brewers' Zach Davies (plus a double off established reliever Ernesto Frieri in the same game) brought a smile to his face.

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Ryan McMahon figured that if a mid-Spring Training signing placed him squarely on the Rockies' roster bubble, and if all eyes would be on him to prove he can hit established Major League pitching, he might as well have fun with it.

For example, McMahon's average stayed near the .400 mark during the first half of Cactus League play, but the true test would be how he would do against top pitchers. The thought of a hit up the middle against Indians' two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, and another off the Brewers' Zach Davies (plus a double off established reliever Ernesto Frieri in the same game) brought a smile to his face.

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"I don't know if I'm measuring myself against them; I'm kind of excited," said McMahon, 23, who hit .355 with a .403 on-base percentage and .583 slugging percentage in 119 total games at Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque last year before going 3-for-19 in 24 spaced-out Major League plate appearances. "I had a lot of fun when I faced Kluber.

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"I had a good time with it, felt I was challenging myself at the plate. I got a knock off him and said, 'Yeah, that feels good.' And facing Davies the other day, these are guys you hear about all the time. It's more fun."

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It's certainly more fun than worrying about a decision he can't make.

McMahon didn't get his chance against a frontline pitcher Monday night against the Rangers, who scratched Tony Barnette because of lower back tightness. The Rangers went with righty Adrian Sampson, and McMahon took full advantage, hitting an opposite-field, two-run homer off Sampson in the third inning.

McMahon, the No 2 prospect in the Rockies' organization according to MLB Pipeline, began the Cactus League schedule receiving daily chances to prove he could handle being the regular first baseman -- especially succeeding defensively at a position he adopted in 2016 after being drafted as a third baseman.

Video: McMahon on his spring, Black on slugger's approach

"'Skip' actually called me into his office and told me that he's proud of the way I've been playing first base, which meant a lot to me," McMahon said.

But Carlos Gonzalez re-signing last week and Gerardo Parra returning from a hand injury pushed Ian Desmond from left field to first base. Suddenly, McMahon went from having a clear shot to start to potentially getting irregular playing time in the Majors or possibly being sent down.

"It was cool to have 'CarGo' back; he's a great dude to have around. Everybody loves having him here, he's great for the locker room and a helluva player," McMahon said.

Still, Black continues to feed McMahon regular at-bats, sometimes at first base, sometimes at third and even as a designated hitter.

Could this be a way of building McMahon's playing time to jump-start him for daily starts at Triple-A? Or could McMahon usurp one of the reserve outfielders and make the Major League club as a part-time starter, with Desmond moving to the outfield when McMahon starts?

Video: Rodgers and McMahon hope to make an impact in 2018

"I think if I play well, hopefully Jeff [Bridich, the general manager] and Bud will want to have me on the team, but they've got to do what's best for the team," McMahon said.

Injury update

Righty reliever Carlos Estevez, whose strong September/October (3.86 ERA, 12 strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings) made him a key bullpen member, will miss the start of the regular season. He bent over to pick up a ball on a cold February morning and suffered a strained oblique, and last week suffered a relapse. Estevez, who has one appearance this spring, said Monday he's rebuilding his throwing program but won't be ready for Opening Day.

Roster moves

Righty Yency Almonte (No. 10-rated Rockies prospect) and lefty Sam Howard (No. 17), who were roughed up by the Giants on Sunday but are considered important depth pieces, were optioned to Minor League camp on Monday. Both are expected to start at Triple-A.

Position competition

• Outfielder David Dahl, who is trying to force his way into regular big league time rather than be sent to Albuquerque, went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. Two other outfielders who have experience in the Majors as backups also had big nights. Mike Tauchman went 2-for-3 with his fourth spring triple, and Raimel Tapia went 1-for-2 off the bench.

Finding the barrel

Infielder Pat Valaika, playing for the second consecutive game after missing time with a left oblique injury, went 2-for-3 with a double. On-site tracking had the exit velocity of the double at 107 mph.

Up next

Lefty Tyler Anderson will start, and bullpen competitors Jairo Diaz and Zac Rosscup also are scheduled to pitch against the Brewers at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick for a 2:10 p.m. MT start on Tuesday afternoon.

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, Ryan McMahon

Rodgers, Hampson work on defensive versatility

Two top Rox prospects are practicing at second base and shortstop this spring
MLB.com

PHOENIX -- Brendan Rodgers started at second base for the Rockies against the Brewers on Saturday afternoon, but it was by no means the start of his day. Garrett Hampson was in the dugout slated to enter as a reserve, but the game was merely part of his day, too.

Rodgers, who is the Rockies' top prospect and the No. 14 in all of baseball according to MLB Pipeline, and Hampson, Colorado's No. 7 prospect, often begin their day at a half-field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. The early work and frequent game action -- Hampson leads the Rockies with 23 games played, and Rodgers is tied with first baseman/third baseman Ryan McMahon with 22 -- is meant to accelerate their learning curves.

PHOENIX -- Brendan Rodgers started at second base for the Rockies against the Brewers on Saturday afternoon, but it was by no means the start of his day. Garrett Hampson was in the dugout slated to enter as a reserve, but the game was merely part of his day, too.

Rodgers, who is the Rockies' top prospect and the No. 14 in all of baseball according to MLB Pipeline, and Hampson, Colorado's No. 7 prospect, often begin their day at a half-field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. The early work and frequent game action -- Hampson leads the Rockies with 23 games played, and Rodgers is tied with first baseman/third baseman Ryan McMahon with 22 -- is meant to accelerate their learning curves.

Most mornings begin with Rodgers and Hampson, usually joined by more experienced infielders Daniel Castro and Derrik Gibson, being rolled grounders by Rockies third-base coach Stu Cole, first at shortstop, then at second base. By rolling from short distances, Cole can control the repetitions, how far the fielder has to range, whether the catch is normal or backhanded and whether the double-play toss is overhand or underhand.

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Rodgers and Hampson aren't on the 40-man roster and haven't been professionals long. Rodgers, 21, was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2009 Draft out of Lake Mary (Fla.) High School. Hampson, 23, was a third-round pick in 2016 out of Long Beach State. But it's possible they could arrive at Coors Field sometime this summer.

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Both had been shortstops, but there's no guarantee the big league opportunity will happen there. Rodgers, who split last season between Class A Advanced Lancaster and Double-A Hartford, has played 165 professional games at shortstop and 34 at second base. Hampson, who spent all last year at Lancaster, has 120 appearances at shortstop and 72 at second.

"They're putting me at second and short, and I enjoy both positions," Rodgers said. "I'm still learning a lot at second base and even at shortstop. I'm getting out there at about 8:30 [a.m.] before meetings to get early work three times a week, just learning to move my feet, stuff like that."

Hampson, a shortstop in college, began last season at short in Lancaster while Rodgers was injured and moved to second when Rodgers returned. Hampson moved to short during Rodgers' time in Double-A.

"It doesn't really matter to me. I think I'm pretty comfortable at both," Hampson said. "I learned second base last year. I'd just played shortstop my whole life coming up. That was more natural to me. Different footwork, different angles."

Video: Top Prospects: Garrett Hampson, 2B, Rockies

Of course, everything can't be covered every day. Rodgers' inexperience showed during the second inning on Saturday.

The Brewers tried a double steal with Orlando Arcia headed to second and Jonathan Villar breaking for the plate. Rodgers dashed inward from second hoping to shorten catcher Tony Wolters' throw but took himself out of position to catch the ball.

Rockies manager Bud Black, however, did not assign blame. He said between Wolters and the middle infielders, a called play (which he didn't detail, for obvious reasons) was not executed properly.

But that's part of Spring Training's purpose. The other part is testing the players offensively. Rodgers entered Saturday with a .286 batting average and .362 on-base percentage with three home runs. Hampson was hitting .323 with a home run and a team-high six stolen bases.

Video: COL@LAA: Rodgers, Hampson crush homers in the 2nd

Both could logically be headed to Hartford to start the season, but there is a path to the Majors.

Behind second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who is in the last year of club control at $8.5 million, and shortstop Trevor Story is utility man Pat Valaika. But there isn't another middle infielder on the 40-man roster. Castro has Major League experience with the Braves in 2015 and '16 and Gibson has played in Triple-A with the Red Sox, Orioles and Rockies. But it's clear the Rockies see the possibility for frontline duty for Rodgers or Hampson, or both.

Now it's a matter of the Rockies preparing them for it.

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, Garrett Hampson, Brendan Rodgers

Pipeline Q&A: Rockies' Colton Welker

MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Rockies camp, it was Colorado's No. 4 prospect, Colton Welker.

Welker was the Rockies' fourth-round selection in the 2016 Draft and received an above-pick value bonus of $855,000 to forego his commitment to the University of Miami. The third baseman attended Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, a program that produced big leaguers like Anthony Rizzo and Mike Caruso, as well as A's lefty prospect Jesus Luzardo. Welker has hit .341/.385/.496 over 118 total professional games to date, though his first full season was cut short by a lower abdominal strain.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Rockies camp, it was Colorado's No. 4 prospect, Colton Welker.

Welker was the Rockies' fourth-round selection in the 2016 Draft and received an above-pick value bonus of $855,000 to forego his commitment to the University of Miami. The third baseman attended Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, a program that produced big leaguers like Anthony Rizzo and Mike Caruso, as well as A's lefty prospect Jesus Luzardo. Welker has hit .341/.385/.496 over 118 total professional games to date, though his first full season was cut short by a lower abdominal strain.

MLB Pipeline: Official Minor League camp is really just getting going now, but you did get some time over in big league camp early. How have things been going for you?

• Rockies camp report

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Welker: It's been great. It was good to get my feet wet with those guys before the start of Minor League camp. I feel great and I'm ready to roll this year. Being over there, the game's a little faster, so being over there definitely helps.

MLB Pipeline: When you're playing in the South Atlantic League, I'd imagine that big league play seems so far away. Does being over there, even in a Spring Training game, make it seem a little closer?

Welker: You can definitely picture it and it makes me want to keep doing my thing and keep moving up. It doesn't seem too far away. It's the same game I've always played. It doesn't feel much different.

MLB Pipeline: Was last year frustrating for you? You were firing on all cylinders and then you got hurt. How difficult was that to deal with and what were some things you learned about yourself while going through it?

Welker: It was tough. I definitely felt like I was in a rhythm and I wanted to be out there every day for my teammates. It taught me, just watching the game and not being able to play, to not take it for granted. It made me appreciate being able to play every day even more. I really missed being out there with the guys and it made me hungry to get back, play a full season healthy and focus on my body.

MLB Pipeline: Everyone talks about Asheville, which was your home park last year, as being ridiculously hitter-friendly. Is that overblown? And can it mess with you in terms of your approach at the plate?

Welker: For me, they have that big wall in right field and I love to go opposite field, so it was nice. Some guys come in there, from visiting teams, and try to jack balls out of the park and end up going 0-for-4 with two punchouts and popouts. You can take advantage of it and spray the ball over there or you can come in and try to hit home runs. I think it helped me not try to do too much knowing that wall was 297 feet away or whatever it is. It was a really great experience.

MLB Pipeline: You're a third baseman. They have a pretty good third baseman in Colorado in Nolan Arenado. Is that something you don't think about at all? Will you start working at other positions?

Welker: I stick at third strictly now. All of that is out of my control. That guy is obviously the best third baseman in the game, one of the best players playing right now. I hope he continues his success. I'll just keep working on growing to the player I want to become. The rest will take care of itself.

MLB Pipeline: On the plus side, especially when you get to slide over to big league camp, you get to see how he goes about his business. That must be a plus.

Welker: Oh, it is. He works insanely hard. Just watching his work ethic, even in the cage, is amazing. His focus, he's a different animal out there, definitely.

MLB Pipeline: I did want to ask you about Parkland. You went to Stoneman Douglas High School, which obviously was in the news following the mass shooting tragedy. Where were you when it happened?

Welker: I had just finished here and I got a news alert on my phone or saw it on Twitter. I did a double-take and thought, "Was that Parkland, Florida?" It's a small town, a beautiful area. I was completely in shock and disbelief that something like that would happen there.

MLB Pipeline: What have you been able to do since the tragedy to stay connected to your community back home?

Welker: We have a big group chat with my teammates and coach from high school. I reached out and said, "I love you guys. I hope everyone is OK." I'm trying to show my support everywhere, on social media, posting things there, messaging the families that were affected. I thought Major League Baseball wearing the Douglas hats was great. I was a part of that and it was special to wear that hat again in that situation.

MLB Pipeline: It's an unfortunate thing to have to learn at such a young age, but you have a platform, where maybe you can help comfort people a little. Is that something you've learned?

Welker: That's what I wanted to use it as, like a tool, something people can look at to maybe be lifted up, maybe see a little happiness at a time when it's hard to see happiness.

MLB Pipeline: Without getting political at all, how proud are you of the student body that has stood up for what they believe in strongly in the aftermath of this tragedy?

Welker: I'm not surprised at all. The character of those kids, they come from great families, from a great area. I wasn't surprised at all. It's amazing what they're doing, trying to fight the laws and stand up to make sure nothing like that happens again. I expected nothing less. They're doing a great job.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Colorado Rockies

Pipeline report: Rockies camp

Farm system still full of talent despite graduations
MLB.com

Every Spring Training, prospects get a chance to show what they can do as they prepare for the upcoming season. Some compete for jobs in big league camp, while others vie for spots on Minor League affiliates. MLB Pipeline will visit all 30 camps this spring, and today we check in on the Rockies.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Typically, the world of player development ebbs and flows. If an organization graduates a large number of players to the big leagues, or prospects are used in trades, it only stands to reason that the farm system might lay fallow for a while.

Every Spring Training, prospects get a chance to show what they can do as they prepare for the upcoming season. Some compete for jobs in big league camp, while others vie for spots on Minor League affiliates. MLB Pipeline will visit all 30 camps this spring, and today we check in on the Rockies.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Typically, the world of player development ebbs and flows. If an organization graduates a large number of players to the big leagues, or prospects are used in trades, it only stands to reason that the farm system might lay fallow for a while.

Rockies' Top 30 Prospects list | Q&A with Colton Welker

That's what makes what the Rockies have going that much more impressive. Yes, they've slipped from their No. 8 spot on MLB Pipeline's Top 10 farm systems rankings from a year ago, but it is far from barren.

:: MLB Pipeline Spring Training reports ::

"I think what's so special right now about what we have going on here is we did graduate a lot of players, and yet the depth of our system is still quite strong," Rockies senior director of player development Zach Wilson said. "And really, at every position. That's our job, right? To keep making sure we have a pipeline of people in the mix here."

It's apparent on both sides of the ball, with much of that depth impressing during stays in big league camp this spring. Guys like David Dahl and Trevor Story are homegrown graduates on the position player side, and No. 2 prospect Ryan McMahon is on the brink of joining them, but top prospect Brendan Rodgers, No. 7 Garrett Hampson and No. 12 Sam Hilliard are coming in behind them.

It might seem even more surprising on the mound, given the difficulties in the past in developing homegrown arms. That perception is now very much misleading. Last year's rotation, which helped the Rockies reach the Wild Card Game, was almost entirely homegrown and largely rookie-fed (And while German Marquez came via a trade, his development was completed in this system.). But one just needed to see who was getting early innings in Cactus League games to know backups are on the way.

"Even though we graduated a ton of pitchers, we basically had a whole rotation of rookies or second-year guys, we have another wave of guys coming," Wilson said. "The Ryan Castellanis, the Peter Lamberts, the Yency Almontes, the guys people have seen over in big league camp, they're part of that next generation."

Wilson and the player development staff have continued to foster a culture that no longer accepts fear of Coors Field. More than anything, it's the mentality that a pitcher's stuff will play wherever he is pitching that has become the No. 1 tenet of pitching development in Colorado, and this new group has bought in just like last year's rookies had. "If you pitch in Coors Field with a sense of fearlessness and a sense of toughness and aggressiveness, you're going to succeed," Wilson said. We've had a bunch of guys who look at pitching that way and that's why they've succeeded in Coors Field.

"Lambert, here's a 20-year-old kid who was pitching in big league camp like he's been here for the last five years, and this is his first big league camp. Castellani pitched all year last year at age 21 in Double-A. At one point we had the youngest position player and the youngest pitcher in the Eastern League in Castellani and Rodgers. He's able to do that because of his mindset. He has an advanced maturity in how he pitches. The way they compete is ultra-aggressive and fearless. That is certainly important to our process."

Versatility continues to be key

Trevor Story was a natural shortstop when he was drafted back in 2011, and now he's established himself as the Rockies everyday guy at that premium position in the big leagues. But that was never a guarantee, with Story seeing time at third base immediately upon turning pro, then folding in some second as he moved up the ladder. That philosophy of positional versatility is very much alive and well with prospects like Rodgers and Hampson.

"Ultimately, it's about preparing these guys to do a multitude of things, regardless of who's on the Major League club, who is heading toward impending free agency, that sort of thing," Wilson said. "You try to take all of that out of the equation. The most important thing is doing what's right for the player and what's right for the organization. So getting a guy like Brendan ready for all three positions, you never know where the opportunity is going to lie."

Rodgers was a shortstop when drafted in 2015 and has played there more often than not in his two-plus years in the Rockies system. But he started seeing time at second base during his first full season and again in 2017. Now he's getting work at third. It's not something fans will likely see during Spring Training, but don't be surprised if Rodgers shows up at the hot corner once the season gets underway. "That's important to us because we're a National League club first and foremost," Wilson said. "It's important to us because generally, we carry 13 pitchers at the Major League level. So to have guys who can be on the bench, who can fulfill a bunch of different needs is really important. A lot of times, players are ready offensively before they're ready defensively. What we try to focus on is when a guy's bat is ready, and there's an opportunity at the Major League level somewhere, let's make sure he's able to fulfill some different needs."

Video: Rodgers and McMahon hope to make an impact in 2018

Camp standouts

Wilson had trouble singling out a player and, as has been the case with nearly all of MLB Pipeline's camp visits to date, the appreciation farm directors have had for how early players have shown up to get work in was apparent in Rockies camp.

"I got here a month ago and I felt I was late to Minor League camp because we had 80 percent of our guys here voluntarily," Wilson said. "That stands out."

Wilson did bring up a couple of hitters who had been particularly impressive in big league camp, starting with Rodgers, who has banged out a couple of homers. Hampson has also performed very well, hitting .360 with five steals in 18 Cactus League games, while playing three infield positions, of course. "He skipped over low-A, went right to high-A in his first full season, then came right to big league camp," Wilson said. "For his inexperience, he's really shown he has a tremendous feel for the game. He has great instincts and is advanced in so many ways."

No. 20 prospect Yonathan Daza has already been reassigned, but he left his mark, hitting .389 in 18 at-bats. "He'd fallen under the radar as a prospect until maybe just recently," Wilson said. "He does what Daza does. He has great at-bats, he hits the ball all over the place and he can really run, and he's played great defense."

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Colorado Rockies

Prospect McMahon exuding confidence at 1B

MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There are still lessons for rookie Ryan McMahon, but at least this spring they aren't the hard, painful ones.

McMahon, with a clear shot to become the Rockies' first baseman, went 0-for-3 in Thursday's 3-2 walk-off win over the Reds at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. But he is hitting .353 with three doubles and a homer in 34 at-bats over 13 games. He struck out twice Thursday -- equaling his previous Cactus League total.

View Full Game Coverage

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There are still lessons for rookie Ryan McMahon, but at least this spring they aren't the hard, painful ones.

McMahon, with a clear shot to become the Rockies' first baseman, went 0-for-3 in Thursday's 3-2 walk-off win over the Reds at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. But he is hitting .353 with three doubles and a homer in 34 at-bats over 13 games. He struck out twice Thursday -- equaling his previous Cactus League total.

View Full Game Coverage

His hits have included some flares and balls that found spots through the infield, which is totally fine for a guy who didn't have much on his side in previous Spring Trainings -- 1-for-29 with 13 strikeouts from 2015-17. So McMahon appreciates the positive numbers from a swing that's not where he expects it to be when the season opens.

"It's OK," McMahon said. "Every Spring Training, you've got to come in and kind of teach yourself how to hit. I feel good, feel like my direction is good. I've got to fine-tune a few things and get that rhythm back."

Video: ARI@COL: McMahon singles home Iannetta in the 2nd

McMahon admitted he was "a little frustrated" with his contact and spent extra time in the batting cage before Wednesday's 5-4 victory over the Rangers. The result was a line-drive single to center against Clayton Blackburn in his first at-bat, and another liner to center his third time up that hung just enough for Drew Robinson to rob him.

The 23-year-old earned his callup last season by hitting a combined .355 with a .403 on-base percentage, a .583 slugging percentage and 20 home runs at Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque. He went 3-for-19 (.158) in 17 Major League games, but the Rockies were more focused on the benefit of him being with a team making a postseason push than putting him on the field consistently.

McMahon has returned more confident and performed more competitively this spring.

"Overall, you're seeing a quality at-bat," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "Looks to me he's seeing the ball well. He's swinging at strikes, taking balls. The approach is such where he's using the whole field. He's thinking up the middle, the other way. Something soft he can turn on. A lot of his hits are up the middle, which is good to see.

"It's good to see that he's feeling comfortable. You go back to a couple springs ago when I wasn't here, he had a couple hapless at-bats and maybe no hits. And maybe last year it was sort of the same. We sent him out of camp early, so this has been a gradual progression for him."

Video: 30 Clubs in 30 Days: McMahon hopes to make team

The Rockies did not re-sign Mark Reynolds, last year's primary first baseman and a 30-homer hitter. Reynolds remains available (as does their longtime outfield star, Carlos Gonzalez). But with a full 40-man roster and no injuries that will cost significant regular-season time, Colorado's efforts are going to evaluating talent it has developed. It's a big chance for players like McMahon, the organization's No. 2 prospect according to MLB Pipeline.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

McMahon is also gaining experience against a wide array of arms. Several hits have come off pitchers who haven't reached or have barely touched the Majors, but he also has knocks off vets such as the Cubs' Kyle Hendricks and the Mariners' Mike Leake, as well as emerging pitchers like the D-backs' Braden Shipley and the Reds' Cody Reed. And he is facing many of these pitchers for the first time.

McMahon said he feels best when he puts himself in a position where he can reach pitches on either corner of the plate as if they're down the middle. Searching for that point while also figuring out the pitcher is beneficial.

"It's almost a better challenge and better for your swing in the long run to face a guy you don't know really how his stuff moves," McMahon said. "Then you really have to do your swing to the best of your ability. But it doesn't really matter who's throwing. You're just trying to find that feel."

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, Ryan McMahon

Rockies' Top 30 full of Draft talent despite graduations

MLB.com

The Rockies might have had the deepest farm system in baseball two years ago, and they've graduated much of that talent to Coors Field.

Rockies Top 30 Prospects list

The Rockies might have had the deepest farm system in baseball two years ago, and they've graduated much of that talent to Coors Field.

Rockies Top 30 Prospects list

That group includes slugging shortstop Trevor Story and six of the seven regular starting pitchers on their surprise 2017 National League Wild Card team in Tyler Anderson, Kyle Freeland, Jon Gray, German Marquez, Jeff Hoffman and Antonio Senzatela. Colorado also has high hopes for David Dahl, who had a spectacular 2016 debut but didn't appear in the big leagues last year because of injury, and fellow outfielder Raimel Tapia, a reserve a year ago.

:: Team Top 30 Prospects lists ::

All of those promotions depleted the system but haven't drained it completely. Middle infielder Brendan Rodgers has a lofty offensive ceiling, as does Ryan McMahon, the favorite to claim the Rockies' first-base job in 2018. Right-hander Riley Pint has some of the best pure stuff anywhere in the Minors, though he's still learning how to harness it. Third baseman Colton Welker, right-hander Peter Lambert and shortstop Ryan Vilade have the tools and track record of performance to crack MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list this summer.

Twenty-three prospects on our Rockies Top 30 are products of the Draft, including the first nine. That latter group includes first-rounders Rodgers and Pint, supplemental first-rounder Tyler Nevin and second-rounders McMahon, Lambert, Vilade and Ryan Castellani.

Biggest jump/fall
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2017 preseason list to the 2018 preseason list.

Jump: Sam Hilliard, OF (2017: 30 | 2018: 12)
Breiling Eusebio, LHP (2017: NR | 2018: 13)
Fall: Ben Bowden, LHP (2017: 14 | 2018: 24)

Best tools
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses also have the same grade.

Hit: 60 -- Brendan Rodgers
Power: 55 -- Rodgers (Ryan McMahon, Tom Murphy, Chad Spanberger, Ryan Vilade)
Run: 70 -- Wes Rogers
Arm: 70 -- Yonathan Daza
Defense: 60 -- Garrett Hampson (Yonathan Daza)
Fastball: 75 -- Riley Pint (Jairo Diaz)
Curveball: 55 -- Peter Lambert (Breiling Eusebio, Mike Nikorak, Pint, Jesus Tinoco)
Slider: 55 -- Pint (Yency Almonte, Ryan Castellani, Diaz, Tinoco)
Changeup: 60 -- Lambert
Control: 55 -- Lambert (Will Gaddis)

How they were built
Draft: 23
International: 4
Trade: 3

Breakdown by ETA
2018: 8
2019: 9
2020: 8
2021: 4
2022: 1

Breakdown by position
C: 2
1B: 4
2B: 2
3B: 1
SS: 2
OF: 8
RHP: 8
LHP: 3

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

Colorado Rockies

Douglas alum Welker describes shock of tragedy

Rockies prospect graduated from site of shooting less than two years ago
Special to MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies prospect Colton Welker could not have anticipated the shock he would feel when his alma mater, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, was thrust into the national spotlight as the site of a tragic mass shooting last week.

He saw the athletic director from when he played there, Chris Hixon, and 18-year-old Meadow Pollack, the little sister of one of his best friends, listed among those who died in the shooting.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies prospect Colton Welker could not have anticipated the shock he would feel when his alma mater, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, was thrust into the national spotlight as the site of a tragic mass shooting last week.

He saw the athletic director from when he played there, Chris Hixon, and 18-year-old Meadow Pollack, the little sister of one of his best friends, listed among those who died in the shooting.

"It was definitely tough to hear that news from such a great area and prestigious school," Welker said Thursday at Rockies training camp. "It's a school that has meant so much to me and put me on the map and got me here pretty much. It's tough to see that at a school like that, because [there have been] nothing but good things there."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Welker also noticed Aaron Feis, one of his former coaches, among the 17 lives lost, and heard how Feis had heroically thrown himself between the students and the shooter, sacrificing his life to save the lives of his students.

"He was just a great overall guy," Welker said of Feis. "He loved everyone. He was well-loved. It was tough to see that."

Welker, 20, was at the Rockies' training facility when the news first reached him. Immediately his world was turned upside down.

"One of my buddies texted me," Welker recalled. "He was like, 'Did you see what's going on?' I had no clue because I had just come off the field here. I thought maybe he was joking. I mean, I don't know who would joke about that, but I just couldn't see that happening there."

Welker had a close connection with many of the Douglas High staff and students, and he's still coming to terms with what happened.

"For me, you just read about [similar events] in the news and it's miserable, it's terrible, it breaks your heart," Welker said. "But then it happens in your hometown. I was really thrown back and in shock and disbelief. It happened so close to home. I live right there, too, so it's terrible to see.

"I actually knew the kid who did it," Welker said. "I went to middle school with him. I rode the bus with him for three years. It was complete shock."

Video: Teams to wear Stoneman Douglas hats for ST openers

Even before Welker's 2016 baseball team won the Florida Class 9A state championship and was named Baseball America's high school team of the year, Douglas was known as an athletic powerhouse -- Cubs All-Star Anthony Rizzo is among its alumni -- and a school with a rigorous academic environment.

"It's just terrible to be on the map for that reason, because usually we're on the map as a top sports school and things like that," Welker said. "People don't really know how beautiful it is, and how great of a city it is. It's still a great city. I don't think that's going to stop."

Tweet from @MLB: #ParklandStrong: All 30 teams to don Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS caps before games this weekend with option to wear in-game. pic.twitter.com/FLNqcFalBx

It came as no surprise to Welker that Douglas students and staff were quick to honor their fallen friends.

"I expected nothing less from that community and the kids," Welker said, praising the way the students are reflecting the character of the school. "It's amazing. I saw the other day, kids went over to President Trump and spoke out. People are trying to get the laws changed. I know a ton of people there that are going to stand up for that."

It can be hard for someone like Welker, the Rockies' No. 4 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, to feel like he can do something to make a difference from 2,000 miles away, but when Spring Training games begin in Arizona's Cactus League and Florida's Grapefruit League on Friday, all Major League players will honor the victims wearing Douglas High caps in a statement of solidarity. That includes Welker, who will be in uniform for the Rockies.

"I saw that on Twitter yesterday, and I was really thrown back," Welker said. "It was amazing to see that. It's going to be beautiful for the people to think of [our school] in a positive way. Instead of dwelling on the past, we'll try to get past it."

Friday will be a memorable landmark in the healing process for the community, and a moment that will give Welker reason to feel proud as an alum of the school and a part of the Major League Baseball community.

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com.

Colorado Rockies

Roster hopeful Cuevas has Puerto Rico on mind

Rockies rookie outfielder seeks more help for hurricane-ravaged homeland
MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Outfielder Noel Cuevas is not front and center among candidates to make the Rockies' Opening Day roster, even though manager Bud Black makes it a point to mention his name among the candidates.

But Cuevas -- 26 and on the 40-man Major League roster for the first time after hitting .312 with 15 home runs and 79 RBIs at Triple-A Albuquerque last year -- can't afford to be anonymous. His family and his native Puerto Rico, which was ravaged by Hurricane Maria in September, are depending on him. So he is bringing awareness at a time when he's trying to make a team.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Outfielder Noel Cuevas is not front and center among candidates to make the Rockies' Opening Day roster, even though manager Bud Black makes it a point to mention his name among the candidates.

But Cuevas -- 26 and on the 40-man Major League roster for the first time after hitting .312 with 15 home runs and 79 RBIs at Triple-A Albuquerque last year -- can't afford to be anonymous. His family and his native Puerto Rico, which was ravaged by Hurricane Maria in September, are depending on him. So he is bringing awareness at a time when he's trying to make a team.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Taken-for-granted necessities such as power and food are still either scarce or inconsistent in Puerto Rico after all these months, and help is greatly needed.

Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule | Gear

Cuevas watched with pride during the World Series, when stars such as the Dodgers' Kiké Hernandez and the Astros' Carlos Beltran and Carlos Correa, among others, raised awareness. He noted that Dallas Mavericks player J.J. Barea arranged through team owner Mark Cuban a couple of planes filled with supplies.

But the idea that relief efforts have fallen to celebrities, while the coordination to help fellow Americans is lacking from more traditional sources, bothers Cuevas. And another hurricane season opens in about 100 days.

"There are a lot of baseball players, like Carlos Beltran," Cuevas said. "We've got a lot of guys that haven't been in the big leagues that long, and they're helping people build a new house. I think that, yes, it's nice, but I think it's got to come from somewhere else. We could get a lot more help."

Join MLB's disaster relief effort

Cuevas' family is in Camuy. His father owns a gas station. There were more, but the others were leveled. He often had to tell people who had waited up to 10 hours for gas, for everything from cars to generators that power life-extending equipment, that the day's supply had emptied.

Cuevas spent the first terrifying days with his family.

"I was with my brothers and my mom, brooming the water out of my house, trying to keep it from flooding," he said.

He had planned to play winter ball in Puerto Rico, but the hurricane scuttled that. It took more than a month for power to be restored at his home, and his mother and grandfather still have inconsistent electricity.

After things began to normalize back home, Cuevas arranged to play in Mexico, where he hit .243 with four home runs and 21 RBIs in 47 games. Even now, he works on the field, then communicates with his family about the suffering back home. He's ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Rockies' No. 28 prospect.

Video: Black on Cuevas' chances of making Opening Day roster

Cuevas, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound right-handed hitter and thrower who plays all three outfield positions, was drafted by the Dodgers in 2010 and sent to the Rockies after the '14 season as the player to be named in the trade for pitcher Juan Nicasio. Black has is impressed enough with Cuevas' speed, arm and bat speed to include him among the outfield group with David Dahl, Raimel Tapia and Mike Tauchman as competitors for the Opening Day roster.

"I dug a little deeper on the guy, and our player-development staff has really seen, at times, big league caliber play in the Minor Leagues," said Black, who said he knows Cuevas was affected by the hurricane and is involved in relief efforts, but doesn't know the full extent. "It's a matter of putting all that together over a period of time, gaining confidence that he can really play at the big league level, and doing it whether it's in Spring Training or, if given the opportunity, in a big league game."

Cuevas certainly has the confidence to represent people who, at times, feel forgotten by their fellow Americans, even though he has yet to reach his sport's highest level.

"It is in situations like this that character comes out, and all the values that you learn through childhood," Cuevas said. "It's not the same, talking about it, as having to live through all of that panic that was going on. I was able to see things that I'd never seen before in my life.

"I was glad that I was able to keep myself under control, and I was in the fortunate position to help out others."

Colorado Rockies, Noel Cuevas