The Colorado Rockies have been very quiet this offseason. A little too quiet considering the list of free agents still on the board, making just one big signing this winter of Daniel Murphy for a two-year, $24 million deal.
Fans might have a reason to be worried. What could possibly make this team better this season compared to the playoff team the Rockies were in 2018? One answer … Let the kids play!
We have seen what the Rockies organization can produce in the last couple of seasons within the minors and this may be the future for this organization.
There are a number of prospects down in the minors that we have all been hearing about. Brendan Rodgers and Colton Welker are the top names of infielders taking residence in Colorado’s minor league system who could fill LeMahieu’s absence.
As a note, neither Rodgers nor Welker are currently on Colorado’s 40-man roster so a move would need to be made in order for them to see Major League action.
Rodgers is the name we have been hearing the most as to who is “big league” ready. He was featured in the All-Star Futures Game last season and has shown his potential of taking a starting position on the Rockies roster for 2019. His lifetime batting average of .291 in the minors can show he may need some work at the plate but his defensive skills are at a Major League-level. Rodgers has posted a .981 fielding percentage at second base in 465.1 innings played.
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As a reminder, the signing of Daniel Murphy this offseason has not closed off the second base opening with the departure of LeMahieu. The plan for the soon-to-be 34-year-old is first base.
After what Trevor Story showed in his debut, Rockies fans should be hopeful and excited for the emergence of Rodgers. Look for him to compete and play all-out for the starting job at second base this spring training.
Welker has been in the system for three seasons now and has done nothing but produce. He has a .337 batting average during that time. While he doesn’t hit for power with just 24 home runs, Welker sprays the ball around the field and gets on base. Defensively, he is consistent with a .948 fielding percentage in his first three minor league seasons.
With third base being his primary position, Welker may need to wait his turn if he can’t make a move to another infield position. After the Rockies settled on an arbitration deal with Nolan Arenado for record-breaking money, the third base position seems to be locked up for the 2019 season. Look for Welker to continue his work in the minors this season with a potential September call-up.
We have already seen some kids show their potential with the Rockies. Players like David Dahl, Jeff Hoffman, Kyle Freeland and Ryan McMahon made their marks in 2018 as important pieces to the organization. Rodgers should be the answer to the missing piece at second base and could join this list of young players to compete in the NL West.
This may be what the Rockies organization have in mind as it comes down to Opening Day of the 2019 season. The youth movement is here, fans, and we should embrace it.