Minor League Opening week continues and so does our preview for the Colorado Rockies Minor League system. We have already covered the Albuquerque Isotopes and the Hartford Yard Goats. Today, we are finally reaching one of the two new teams to be affiliated with the Rockies, the Spokane Indians.
League: High-A West
Location: Spokane Valley, Washington
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As far as location goes, Spokane is about as good as the Rockies can get in the High A level. Eastern Washington and Idaho are mixed between Colorado Rockies and Seattle Mariners fans. Rather than expand their territory, the Mariners have chosen teams in the Seattle metro area, when league boundaries allow it. This keeps their influence contained and provides an in for the Rockies in the culturally separated Eastern half of the state.
The team plays in an aging ballpark (Avista Stadium, which opened in 1958) with a rich history. And Spokane is, yet again, an affiliate at altitude (nearly 2,000 feet), helping these young players get normalized to the heights of the field they will eventually call home.
As far as better locations, there aren’t really any. Spokane is a populous city with a potential fanbase built in. The only alternatives are to have the affiliate be in Iowa, but are much closer to teams like the Twins, Royals, Cardinals, White Sox, and Cubs. Spokane only has one significant team to compete with, the Mariners.
Finally, the High-A West league, formerly the Northwest League, is the perfect league for the Colorado Rockies to have their affiliate in. I expect this to remain the case from now on. High-A Central is technically closer to Denver, but it does not match the desires of the MLB to have divisions remain together throughout their affiliates.
The final reason that the High-A West is a better match for the Rockies is the mountain culture.
Players to watch: 1B Michael Toglia (3), 3B Aaron Schunk (5), CF Brenton Doyle (6), LHP Helcris Olivarez (7), RHP Chris McMahon (8), RHP Karl Kauffman (19), SS Eddy Diaz (22), RHP Ryan Feltner (24), CF Niko Decolati (25)
Say hello to your 2025 Colorado Rockies. This has been by far the most prospect-studded roster that I have looked at in this series.
Only Niko Decolati is expected to get the call to the big leagues in 2021 by MLB Pipeline, all the rest are expected to be brought up in 2022 or later. Aside from that, you can see five of the Rockies’ top ten prospects in Spokane to start the season. Many of these players will finally break out and taking over starter/rotation spots in the coming years.
By 2025, if they aren’t traded, your Colorado Rockies roster will consist of most, if not all, of these names. Personally, I am really excited to see what Helcris Olivarez, a desperately needed left-handed pitcher, and Chris McMahon can do this year. If I was in Spokane, I wouldn’t miss the chance to see this many players with such high potential, play the game they could be great at one day.
There was an article last month that talked about how the 2016 Yard Goats affected the 2021 Rockies. In four years, I expect the same article to be written about the 2021 Spokane Indians, your 2025 Colorado Rockies.
Data for this article was found using Baseball-Reference and MLB.com