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'More comfortable,' Daza adjusts to big leagues

@oapostrophesd
August 11, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- The Rockies have had a trying month that has landed them in last place in the National League West. But they haven’t made wholesale changes to their lineup. For the most part, they are fielding known quantities and simply attempting to get all facets of their team

SAN DIEGO -- The Rockies have had a trying month that has landed them in last place in the National League West. But they haven’t made wholesale changes to their lineup.

For the most part, they are fielding known quantities and simply attempting to get all facets of their team playing better together.

The outfield is one exception. David Dahl’s high right ankle sprain has opened an opportunity for Yonathan Daza, the Rockies’ No. 10 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.

Daza, 25, started in center field on Sunday, his third start in the four-game series against the Padres at Petco Park. He has hit .300 or better in every Minor League season since 2014 and has earned big league playing time by getting a hit in each of his first four games after rejoining the Rockies this month.

Daza was 1-for-18 over two short stints with the Rockies in April and May, but he has been more of himself this time around.

“The at-bats look more comfortable for him than they did the first time he came up,” manager Bud Black said. “He looks more comfortable in the box. He looks more comfortable around the clubhouse, more comfortable in this setting.

"The results have been better. I liked the base hit he got [Saturday] when he scored Raimel Tapia on a line drive. That was probably the best swing he’s taken since he’s been here. That was a breaking ball that he stayed inside of and hit it solidly up the middle.

“He looks comfortable in the outfield. He’s doing what he naturally does -- he plays good defense. It’s always been the word on him that he’s an above-average center fielder. He’s been fine.”

That hit Saturday, off talented Padres rookie Chris Paddack, produced Daza’s first RBI in the Majors.

Since Dahl’s injury, Daza, Tapia and Garrett Hampson have rotated in center field. But both Daza and Tapia have started the last two games, with Tapia in left field and veteran Ian Desmond on the bench.

Desmond entered the Rockies’ 8-3 victory on Sunday in the fourth inning after Daza fouled a ball off his left ankle and exited the game. X-rays on Daza were negative, and he is day to day, Black said. Desmond snapped an 0-for-14 hitless stretch with an RBI single in the sixth.

Daza won’t be the last fresh face to crack the lineup before 2019 is over. Outfielder Sam Hilliard, the Rockies’ No. 9 prospect, is 25, on the 40-man roster and has 30 home runs at Triple-A Albuquerque. The other three Minor League position players on the 40-man roster -- outfielder Noel Cuevas, infielder Pat Valaika and corner infielder Josh Fuentes, the club’s No. 13 prospect -- have all seen time with the Rockies this season.

If the Rockies deem any of their younger prospects worthy of a big league audition, they will need some 40-man roster maneuvering.

“For the next six, seven weeks,” Black said, “depending on David’s return and even into September, we’ll expose some guys to the Major Leagues.”

Shaun O'Neill is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in San Diego. Follow him on Twitter @oapostrophesd.