Purple Monday: Colorado Rockies Who Are Impressing
By Tim Engquist
What an emotional week in baseball. The heartbreaking loss of Jose Fernandez will leave a hole in baseball for years to come. His love for the game was something I really appreciated and hearing more and more stories of the human being he was makes his loss even harder. It is beautiful to see the support coming from the baseball community and I hope his family and friends find the peace they need. To quote an excellent article from BSNRockies.com, we can “Honor Jose Fernandez by emulating his joy”.
A more fitting end came later Sunday as Vin Scully called his last game at Dodger Stadium. The Colorado Rockies bullpen made sure his last call was a good one giving up a game tying home run to Corey Seager and a game winning homer to Charlie Culberson in extra innings. While it was another tough loss, it seemed appropriate for Vin to go out on such a note.
The Colorado Rockies and 19 other major league baseball teams will see their seasons come to a close next Sunday, leaving 10 teams battle it out for October greatness. Here at Rox Pile, we have discussed all of the September call-ups and how for some of the guys it would be essentially an audition to be part of the team in 2017. We all hope the Rockies will be highly competitive next year so the roster construction will include some tough decisions.
In this week’s Purple Monday, I want to look at two guys who I think have made a strong case to be in Colorado’s plans for next season. These are both guys that the Rockies could use to fill one of their biggest holes heading into the offseason … first base.
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The first guy that has really impressed me is Tom Murphy. He is a guy we kind of saw coming, especially in the middle of the 2016 season. Murphy pounded Pacific Coast League pitching and really hasn’t stopped since joining the Rockies. Murphy is slashing .294/.351/.735 in 15 games and 37 plate appearances. His OPS is eye-popping 1.087. He has five home runs and 12 RBI, pretty impressive numbers, especially for a catcher.
Murphy has shown how much he progressed since 2015 as well. He was called up in September a year ago but was only hitting .257/.333/.543. His ability to improve all three stats so dramatically speaks to the progress he was able to make in his time with the Isotopes this year.
A big question mark for Murphy will be if he has the glove to stick as a catcher. He has two errors already this year but pitch-framing statistics put him getting 0.96 pitches a game for his pitcher. As reference, Tony Wolters sits at 1.33 calls per game and Nick Hundley sits on the other side of the spectrum at -1.28. This is a tough thing to really judge so it will be interesting to see what the Rockies think about his future behind the plate.
A guy who has been off the radar but I think has made his mark this year is Stephen Cardullo. He had a lengthy trip to the big leagues playing in independent ball for years before joining the Albuquerque Isotopes this year. His first career hit was one of my favorite moments of the year, seeing the support and joy from his teammates recognizing the struggles he has overcome. Soon after, he had a birthday to remember hitting his first major league home run in the first game of a doubleheader and following it up with a grand slam in the nightcap.
Through 21 games and 47 plate appearances Cardullo has those two home runs and five RBI. His stats aren’t spectacular, hitting .227/.277/.455. Cardullo could fill the void at first base for the Rockies providing them with an internal right-handed option for next year. He was hitting .308 in AAA and OPS-ing .889 for the ‘Topes so there is reason to think he could improve on his numbers at the majors if he is given more time to acquaint himself to major league pitching.
Next: Rockies Reaction to the Death of Jose Fernandez
These two guys are ones to continue to keep an eye on for the next week and could both be options for the Rockies next year.
The Rockies finish off the year with a series in San Francisco where they can hopefully spoil the Giants postseason aspirations and then come back for an enjoyable series at Coors Field against the Brewers. Enjoy the last week of Rockies baseball for 2016 everyone!