Rockies Ready to Mine Prospects
Biggest decision remaining for the Rockies is how they want to align their bullpen for Opening Day.
Does fifth starterwork in relief until he is first needed in the rotation, April 21 at Arizona, or does he go to the minor-leagues to make a couple starts, and open up a temporary bullpen position for ?
With the roster moves on Monday, what the Rockies underscored is the young talent of the organization has forced its way into the big-league picture.
Morales will be the fifth starter, and while the initial role might be backup spots, outfielderand third baseman will be on hand for the Rockies season opener at Arizona next Monday.
There is still some housecleaning.
Dan Ortmeier and Scott Podsednik remain in contention for the fifth outfield spot, although it would seem that Ortmeier, a switch-hitter, has an edge because he does he provides a right-handed bat off the bench and can play first base in addition to the corner outfield spots.
The presence of the fleet Fowler removes the need to keep Podsednik because of his ability to play center field.
Jeff Baker and Omar Quintanilla remain in content for the final infield spot. Most likely it will go to Quintanilla, the Rockies looking to move Baker, but with Stewart they have flexibility.
Baker’s value is he can play first, third, second, left and right. Quintanilla gives the Rockies protection at second and short.
Stewart can do all of that, except play shortstop, but on daysneeds a break, Stewart can step in at second and , the man Tulowitzki displaced at shortstop, can move back to his original big-league position.
The challenge for manager Clint Hurdle will be making sure he gets enough at-bats for Stewart and Fowler, both of whom have the type of ability that by mid-season they could force themselves into every day roles, giving general manager Dan O’Dowd interesting depth to talk about on the trade market.
Stewart’s ability to play second and third, with third baseman Garrett Atkins able to move to first on occasion, and second baseman Barmes capable of playing short means the left-handed, power-hitting Stewart can be slotted in at three of the four infield positions. That should mean at least four games a week, even if everybody is healthy.
Fowler is a true center fielder, gifted with not only speed but excellent instincts in his breaks on fly balls, and a plus center field arm. When Fowler plays it will be in center field. That, however, doesn’t mean it will be at the expense of.
The athletic Spilborghs is a plus defensive left fielder and right fielder so he can provide protection to both corner outfield positions.
The fact Fowler switch-hits means he can spell Spilborghs against some right-handed pitchers, and play against most left-handed pitchers with Spilborghs filling in for either left fielderor right fielder , both left-handed hitters.
Stewart showed he can handle the challenge in the second half last year when he showed up well against big-league pitching.
With Fowler it is a bit of a gamble. He has never played a game at Triple-A, but then neither had Tulowitzki when he made the big-league team out of spring training two years ago.
What Fowler has shown is an aptitude to go with his athletic ability.
It was driven home early in spring training. Fowler had three hits and 10 strikeouts in his first 20 spring at-bats.
Rockies hitting coach Don Baylor suggested eliminating the split grip that Fowler was using when he hit left-handed. Fowler adapted instantly. He has 16 hits in the 40 at-bats since, and only five more strikeouts.
Now the Rockies will challenge him with the need to adjust quickly at the big-league level.