Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer are the guys for now. Nobody is going to mistake them for long-term solutions, however, and that’s not exclusively a matter of who is going to play first base for the Colorado Rockies.
Over the last number of years, the Rockies have had to figure out where to get power production in their lineup. It sounds crazy for a team that plays in Coors Field, but we are not far removed from this front office desperately searching for more power, especially from the right side of the plate.
That’s why they reached in terms of dollars to sign Cuddyer, and it’s why they drafted Kyle Parker in the first round of the 2010 draft.
The Rockies are hitching their hopes to Cuddyer and Morneau for a short-term solution, but in the long term they need to develop more pop in their farm system in the mold of Wilin Rosario or Nolan Arenado (assuming he finds his power stroked in the coming years).
Drafted as an outfielder, Parker logged time at first base in Fall League play this year. That makes his rise to the big leagues even more intriguing; earlier this week, Bernie Pleskoff of MLB.com wrote the following about Parker’s status with the franchise:
As a right-handed hitter, Parker’s arms are strong enough that he can be a bit tardy on a pitch and still drive the ball to the right-center-field gap with minimal effort. His raw power is aided by a short, measured stroke that is compact enough to take advantage of very quick hands through the ball.
“The tardiness comes from late pitch recognition, not slow hands…Once Parker is more aware of pitchers changing speeds, altering eye levels and moving the direction of throws, he will hit even better for average. And he’s already pretty good.
“Parker is not that fast, and he may play well in left field where he has less ground to cover. But he has enough arm strength to play in right. And of course, he was playing first base in the Fall League.
“Clearly, Parker’s raw power provides the Rockies with the potential of future versatility.”
The key to his long-term impact might be that transition to first base. Granted, if Parker hits for power at the big league level the Rockies won’t care whether he does so as an outfielder or a first baseman. But if he were to somehow become the long-term answer at first base as a high draft pick that the franchise developed, well, that would be what we like to call a best case scenario.