Fans of the Colorado Rockies are suffering from a serious case of Nolan Arenado/Jeff Bridich fatigue. With spring training just around the corner, what better way to remedy this than by actually discussing baseball.
The Rockies pitchers and catchers report to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Arizona on February 11 and the first game on the 22nd, manager Bud Black already has a big roster decision looming.
The outfield has an abundance of players deserving of a spot on the opening day roster but not enough room to fit them all. Charlie Blackmon, David Dahl, Ian Desmond, and Raimel Tapia are virtual locks to make the roster. The big question is what will Black decide to do with rookie Sam Hilliard.
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As a late season call up in 2019, Hilliard impressed by hitting .273/.356/.649 with 7 home runs, 13 RBI, and 13 runs scored in 77 at-bats over a span of 27 games. This left many dreaming of what the massive 6’5″, 235 LBS, 25 year-old could do with a full season of Major League playing time.
The dilemma facing Black is that carrying five outfielders doesn’t make a lot of sense. Garrett Hampson will likely make the team as the Rockies’ infield utility player but he also has experience in center field.
There is a new rule change in 2020 that expands the active roster from 25 to 26 active players. However, the Rockies will likely go with an added arm in the bullpen considering how bad the pitching was last season.
Since Tapia is out of minor league options and, let’s face the truth, Ian Desmond isn’t going anywhere, Hilliard will likely be the odd man out.
Luckily, that might not be a bad thing for Hilliard. In the minors, he will see every day at-bats instead of sitting on the bench and put into tough pinch-hitting situations. He is also prone to strikeouts (187 combined MLB and minors last season) and his defense could still use some fine tuning.
Hilliard will see time in Coors Field this season but the chances it will be in April are slim.