Colorado Rockies: How Dom Nunez is looking to improve in 2020


“I’ve never played in September before,” Colorado Rockies catcher Dom Nunez said to me in an exclusive chat shortly after I asked him about his final month of the 2019 season. In that final month of his rookie campaign, the 24-year-old Nunez received just 16 at-bats. However, he ended the season on a high note, hitting a home run in the eighth inning of the season’s final game as Colorado came back to edge the Milwaukee Brewers, 4-3, and complete a three-game sweep.

Dom Nunez was part of a stream of players from Triple-A who made an impact for the Colorado Rockies in the season’s final stretch. Talking to me inside the Rockies clubhouse with former fellow Albuquerque Isotopes Sam Hilliard and Josh Fuentes not far away, Nunez reflected on a being a part of a young group of Colorado players who will have gained valuable experience heading into 2020 spring training.

“They work hard and they grind hard. It’s a long season,” Nunez said of Colorado’s veteran players and how the young group of Rockies filled in for them during the final days of the season. “The guys that stepped in did a great job. Fuentes and Hilliard really made some impacts and (Garrett) Hampson really turned it on the last month and a half. That was awesome to see and exciting as well.”

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With it being his first September and first taste of what it was like to play against Major League teams vying for a postseason berth, Nunez told me he believed the lessons he learned this year will benefit him greatly when next season rolls around.

“The everyday grind,” Nunez told me about the biggest lesson he took away from the season. “The everyday professionalism that most of these guys really have and the amount of work that it really is. Between video of the opposing pitcher and all of the opposing hitters, being ready in the middle of games for pinch hits, because I’ve never experienced that, and just playing the game, there was a lot to learn.”

Selected as a middle infielder in the sixth round of the 2013 MLB draft, Nunez flashed his potential in March when he went 3-for-3, including a homer off Colorado closer Wade Davis, and played three runs in Albuquerque’s 7-3 exhibition win over the Rockies. He had a career-high 17 home runs in Albuquerque on August 13 when he was called up for his Major League debut, taking the place of the just-designed for assignment Chris Iannetta on the Colorado roster.

Nunez went 1-for-4 in his big league debut but found playing time sparse the rest of the year. He finished the season with 39 at-bats, splitting time with Tony Wolters and Drew Butera, and hitting just .179/.233/.410 with a pair of home runs and four RBI. He also had 17 strikeouts in those 39 at-bats.

There’s no question that, thanks in part to sporadic playing time, Nunez couldn’t find an offensive rhythm in 2019. As the season concluded, the California native looked back on the steps he took to try to stay ready for action when his name was called.

“The (lack of) game reps definitely, it’s tough,” Nunez said. “You just try to stick to your routine. You have to do your hitting routine every day but you have to do your catching routine and stuff like that as well. Off the machine, throwing to the bases. Doing that little extra work, even though it’s September. I’ve never played in September.”

And never playing in September is just a reminder of how young Nunez is and the possibilities that are ahead of him. He got a taste of that this season and knows what he needs to do before pitchers and catchers report to Scottsdale in mid-February.

Next. Our exclusive chat with Carlos Estevez on his bounceback season. dark

“Work on a little bit of everything for sure,” Nunez smiled. “A couple of things I definitely want to focus on is the offensive approach. Just keep getting better and learning from the older guys and some of the advice they gave me, which was great. Defensively, I just want to keep growing as a pitch caller, as a game general. I also want to get a little more consistent with my throwing to the bases.”