On Thursday, rather than celebrating what should have been Opening Day, the Colorado Rockies were making roster moves.
With Opening Day postponed because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, March 26 was simply a day for Major League Baseball teams to continue to shuffle their rosters ahead of whenever Opening Day might actually be for the 2020 season. The Colorado Rockies took part in that league-wide roster shuffle, sending three pitchers and an outfielder to Triple-A Albuquerque.
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One of the benefits of working with a roster that remained largely intact from the previous seasons is that there are few battles for Opening Day roster spots in that mix. However, Daza had flashed some defensive skills in spring training and was hitting .414 (12-for-29) when workouts at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick came to a sudden halt during the second week of March.
The 26-year-old outfielder had, at the very least, pushed himself into talk about the potential of battling Sam Hilliard and Garrett Hampson for a spot in the outfield. However, hitting .206 with the Rockies in 97 at-bats last season shows there is still plenty of work for Daza to do in Triple-A before becoming a regular contributor in Denver this season.
Castellani battled through health issues last season and had mixed reviews in spring training, with two rough outings (a combined 2.2 innings, three earned runs and seven walks) sandwiched around a two-inning no-hit affair against San Francisco where he faced just seven batters (walking one).
Control will be the biggest task facing the right-hander at Triple-A. His WHIP of 1.938 in 43.1 innings in Albuquerque last season gives him a baseline on which to build and progress.
Mujica, signed in the offseason after missing all of last season with Tommy John surgery, gave up five hits and five runs in three innings spanning two appearances this spring. A starter, the 23-year-old right-hander has impressed Rockies manager Bud Black and others in the organization in his limited time with the team.
Tinoco made his Rockies debut in 2019 and pitched 36 innings over 24 games. He walked 22 while striking out 28 last season and gave up 12 home runs, showing there is still plenty of room for improvement for the 24-year-old right-hander.
This spring, Tinoco didn’t allow an earned run while scattering four hits in four innings spanning four games. His ability to keep the ball in the park was a welcome sign.
All four players have the potential to help the Rockies in 2020. However, all four each have hurdles to overcome to get there. Starting the season at Triple-A will give them a chance to gain playing time and maturity. With the Rockies needing quality depth, that time and experience could become very valuable for Colorado in the very near future.