Today, we pass another disappointing milestone for the Colorado Rockies and their minor league farm system teams in what has become a baseball season for the history books.
This evening, the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes, Double-A Hartford Yard Goats, Class A (Advanced) Lancaster JetHawks, and Class A Asheville Tourists were scheduled to begin their 2020 seasons. It would have been the start of another season of progression for all of the minor leaguers hoping to one day join the Colorado Rockies.
Instead, all of those Rockies affiliates will be joining the rest of Minor League Baseball in an #MiLBAtHomeOpener campaign.
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In Triple-A, thoughts immediately go toward what would have been the season debut of players who could potentially help the Rockies this season. Could reliever Ben Bowden improve on last season’s showing in Albuquerque (5.88 ERA, .274 batting average against in 26 innings over 22 games) and give the Rockies another left-handed option? What about starting pitcher Ashton Goudeau making his Triple-A debut? After a strong season in Hartford last year and then earning All-Arizona Fall League honors, will he take the next step in his progression?
Of course, the what if questions also include what if Brendan Rodgers had started the season at Triple-A instead of making the Rockies Opening Day roster. Tonight would have been his debut and we could have seen the results of his continued progression back from a torn labrum in his right shoulder, both at the plate and in the field.
Regarding Hartford, on a personal note, I was scheduled to leave for Hartford today and take in my first-ever game at Dunkin’ Donuts Park tomorrow night. Plenty of prospects were going to be taking the field, including Ryan Vilade (moving up from Asheville) and Colton Welker (back for his second season in Double-A, but certainly a candidate to make a jump up the ladder this season).
Let’s also not forget that tonight was going to be the managerial debuts for new skippers at Colorado’s pair of highest farm teams as well, with Warren Schaeffer taking over the Isotopes and Chris Denorfia sliding into Schaeffer’s previous position in Hartford.
Colorado’s Class A affiliates have been doing their best to keep the spirit of tonight alive as Lancaster will be holding their virtual home opener complete with a playlist of favorite tunes to remind fans of “The Hangar.” Asheville, meanwhile, celebrated what would have been their Opening Day a little early with a “Wallpaper Wednesday” designed to give fans a chance at a new screen saver for their phone, complete with a Tourists road jersey since the team was opening the season away from Asheville.
Of course, there are always plenty of storylines at all levels of minor league baseball. We highlighted just a few in here that we’ll be watching when it does return … and that we’re certainly missing right now.
And, speaking of baseball’s return and Asheville, I will end this article on a positive note. I read an interview with Tourists president Brian DeWine in the Asheville Citizen Times. Of course, much of the focus was on the lack of an Opening Day as was originally scheduled. DeWine told the newspaper something that I think all baseball fans are leaning upon right now, even if those teams aren’t the Rockies or their affiliates.
"“I can tell you that we will play baseball again at McCormick Field as the Asheville Tourists,” DeWine said. “I can guarantee that, even if our next opening day is April 2021, we will be back.”"
Please baseball, hurry back soon … at all levels. We miss you.