SURPRISE, Ariz. -- If you ask a few team veterans about young players in Rockies camp, it becomes clear that a number of them are making big impressions this spring.
With a mix of players expected to play key roles, non-roster players hoping to get a look, and even a recent Draft pick in camp for the first time, heads are being turned. Third baseman Nolan Arenado mentioned right-handed reliever Tyler Kinley right away, although a number of different names were mentioned as standouts.
Tyler Kinley, RHP
Claimed off waivers from the Marlins, Kinley’s use of his well-regarded slider could earn him a spot pitching in the late innings.
“Kinley has looked really good. He works his butt off and it’s fun to watch him go out there and compete," Arenado said. "Facing him in Miami, I never really enjoyed it, so I’m really happy that he’s here.
“My cousin, [infielder] Josh Fuentes, has looked good, he’s worked hard, gotten the opportunity to get at-bats. [Outfielder] Sam Hilliard and [infielder] Garrett Hampson, I really love watching them play and they’re getting better and more comfortable. [Catcher] Drew Butera has had good at-bats and is a great guy in the clubhouse, and [lefty reliever] Tim Collins has looked really good.”
Antonio Senzatela, RHP
Antonio Senzatela actually had some All-Star Game buzz in 2017, but his lack of secondary pitch development left him as a question mark by last season. Now that he's developing a curveball, revamped his changeup and lost 15 pounds, he seems to be exactly where he belongs, as a key rotation member.
“Man, his body looks really good," right-handed starting pitcher Jon Gray said. "You can tell he’s worked hard this spring, and even in the offseason. And watching him pitch the other day, his stuff looks sharper, too. Everything looks better about him.
“Confidence is what I’m seeing, too. He knows the hard work he’s putting in, and he feels it inside himself. It’s a great place to be, when you know you are better than you were when you stepped in last year, and you’ve got all the confidence behind you.”
Alan Trejo, SS
Alan Trejo is in his first Major League camp. Despite hitting .243 with 15 homers in Double-A last year and displaying some defensive acumen, Trejo somehow escaped prospect-ranking lists. But maybe not for long.
“Trejo has impressed me with the way he’s worked," shortstop Trevor Story said. "I’ve had a lot of time to work with him. He’s been looking good. He has good talent and the work ethic -- I like that a lot. He brings that intensity. He loves it. He loves working.”
Chris Owings, utility
Chris Owings was a valued multi-position player for the D-backs a few years ago, but a hand injury in 2017 and a lot of changes turned him into a non-roster player trying to regain big-league footing. He’s competing for a bench role.
“We’ve seen him play from the other side, but what he’s shown so far in camp has been pretty impressive from my standpoint," left-handed pitcher Kyle Freeland said. "His hustle and the way he’s taking everything day by day, he’s stood out in my eyes.”
Brian Mundell, 1BThe Rockies’ Minor League Player of the Year in 2016, Brian Mundell, 26, aged off prospect lists, but hit .333 with a .399 OBP and 61 RBIs in Triple-A last year.
“He’s improved his attention to detail, looks like he’s ready to go," left fielder Ian Desmond said. "He took the opportunity to be here, got himself ready and is putting his best foot forward.”