Five Rockies Rookies to Follow at Spring Training

Oct. 9, 2014; Mesa, AZ, USA; Colorado Rockies infielder Trevor Story plays for the Salt River Rafters against the Mesa Solar Sox during an Arizona Fall League game at Cubs Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Oct. 9, 2014; Mesa, AZ, USA; Colorado Rockies infielder Trevor Story plays for the Salt River Rafters against the Mesa Solar Sox during an Arizona Fall League game at Cubs Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Spring Training is always an exciting time for any organization. Waking up in the Cactus League means a fresh start, not only a new beginning, but also a look into the future. With the Rockies first Spring Training workout only 15 days away, there will be a lot of interesting story lines to pay attention to. Here at Rox Pile we wanted to help make life a little easier by keeping an eye out for you. Listed below is a brief of 5 players, and their stories, that you should keep your eye on during camp.

Spring Training is time to look into the future. Clubs get throw the cubs to lions, if you will. Top prospects get to show off their stuff against major league talent. These are the players that will have rookie status in 2016, but will make a big impact for the Rockies on Opening Day for very soon after, so they’re worth our attention.

1.  Jon Gray – Right-Handed Pitcher

You’re seeing that right. Jon Gray will still be a rookie in 2016 despite how much we saw of him late last season. In total, Gray started 9 games for the Rox in 2015, amassing a total of 40.2 IP (50 IP is the rookie limit in case you’re wondering). At times, Gray looked like the lock-down ace the Rockies are praying he turns out to be; but at other times he looked like a kid, and appeared frustrated by the Coors effect. Okay, so Gray got roughed up at times, but he made professional hitters look silly as well. Inconsistency is part of being a young adult in the game.

That being said, we do know with some degree of certainty that Gray will be in the Opening Day rotation. What will determine fans confidence in Gray, and most likely his own, is if he can establish some consistency during his Spring outings. Not that we shouldn’t expect the rookie to take some lumps this season, but if he can go into April with some confidence it will go a long way for the Rockies organization, the fans, the players, and of course, himself.

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2.  Jeff Hoffman – Right-Handed Pitcher

Once Gray is firmly in the rotation, Hoffman will be considered the Rockies best farm hand. General Manager Jeff Bridich has not been open about his plans for Hoffman, or really any plans he has for that matter. It’s safe to say that, based on the organizations history, the Rockies will be conservative with Hoffman and rightfully so. Hoffman will determine how the Rockies came out on the Troy Tulowitzki deal (sorry if that brought up some suppressed pain), so expectations are high. Just like all young players, expect inconsistency, but pay close attention to how Hoffman handles himself when he is both dominating opponents and struggling. Dealing with those emotional peaks and valleys will tell us a lot about his makeup. Unless something dramatic happens, don’t expect Hoffman to break camp; but, it sure will be fun to see what he can do in his first trip to the Cactus League. Keep in mind that Hoffman’s curveball is rated among the best in the minors, so if nothing else it sure will be fun to watch Jeff buckle a few knees this Spring.

3.  David Dahl – Outfielder

David Dahl is the Rockies best farm system position player. Just like Hoffman, don’t expect him to break camp this year, but his raw talent will be fun to watch. The outfield situation in Denver is already full, even with Corey Dickerson being shipped to Tampa Bay recently. However, the outfield situation could be in flux again by mid-season. One or both of  Charlie Blackmon and Carlos Gonzalez could be in different uniforms by seasons end, possibly opening the door for Dahl to get a taste of the majors. Consequently, I don’t think Dahl will be in Denver in April, but he’s getting very close. The scary thing is that he should be even closer. Dahl has missed significant time due to a torn hamstring and a lacerated spleen. His minor league production isn’t that of a top prospect, but he absolutely raked at the end of last year and provided all-around production. So this spring watch for Dahl to do it all, hit, run and play defense (“Do-it-all Dahl” can we coin that phrase right here?).

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4.  Miguel Castro – Right-Handed Pitcher

As you recall, Miguel was the other major piece to come to Denver in the Tulowitzki trade. Castro rose through the Blue Jays system extremely fast, but struggled with command and was ultimately shipped back to the minors until being called up by Colorado in September. Castro posted a absolutely disgusting era of 10.13 in Colorado, but that was in only 5.1 innings pitched. That’s obviously too small of a sample size to make any rash judgments, especially considering Castro ended 2015 on the disabled list. The interesting thing to watch with Castro is not only the fact that he throws straight gas, but what role the Rockies will assign to him. Castro has been electric as a reliever, but the Rockies are open to returning him to a starting role. So, keep an eye out on how the Rockies plan to use him going into the future.

5.  Trevor Story – Shortstop/2nd baseman

Trevor Story might be the most interesting story line to watch this Spring. If not for the Jose Reyes return on the Tulo trade, he would be starting at short in Denver as we speak. Story represented the Rockies at the MiLB Futures game in 2015, and finished the year in Triple-A Albuquerque. Story is regarded to as having the best bat speed in the farm system as he has the potential to produce a 20-20 season in 2015. If he proves he can handle major league pitching, there’s a chance he will break camp with the Rockies. Brendan Rodgers might be the the of the future, but the shortstop of the near future is definitely Story. There are two things we can expect to see at the shortstop position in Colorado in 2016;Jose Reyes to not only be suspended at some point for his ongoing domestic abuse case and Jose will get injured. Not to mention the fact that DJ LeMahieu might be trade bait, opening the door at 2nd base. Obviously all three of these scenarios opens a door for Story.

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