Before the Colorado Rockies optioned him back to Triple-A Albuquerque today, outfielder Ryan Vilade experienced being at the major league level for the first time in his career.
The product of Stillwater (Okla.) High School was recalled from the Rockies’ Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque last Saturday before the roster move today.
The call-up was a moment that Colorado Rockies prospect Ryan Vilade will not forget.
“When I got the call, I was super emotional, super excited,” Vilade said. “Just thinking that all that hard work that I had put in has paid off. But this is just the beginning. It is the start of a young career. I have my family here, my girlfriend here, some friends here that are all enjoying this moment with me. I wouldn’t be there without them. I am just excited for the opportunity and the future to come.”
The Rox wasted little time in giving Vilade a chance to perform at the big league level, inserting him into the lineup as the starting left fielder in a road game with Washington on the same day he received his long-awaited call.
After seeing Vilade in his first MLB action, Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black said he was impressed with what he saw from the newcomer’s approach to the game.
“He played a full game yesterday in his Major League debut, five at-bats,” Black told media, including Rox Pile, following last Sunday’s series finale with the Nationals.
“Unfortunately, he did not get his first big league hit. He showed some poise in his first game in his at-bats.”
Since his debut, the native of Grapevine, Texas, saw action in two other contests, drawing a start Tuesday night against the defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers before being used as a pinch-runner in the teams’ series finale on Thursday.
“I am looking forward to it (his first MLB hit). I am anxious about it,” said Vilade, who entered this season as the club’s No. 5 prospect per MLB.com after being Colorado’s second-round selection in the 2017 First-Year Player Draft.
“But I have had seven at-bats now. I’ve hit the ball really hard, right at people. I am having good at-bats, quality ABs. Feeling good, feeling comfortable.”
In his second MLB start, Vilade had an opportunity to face the Dodgers’ Julio Urías, who entered the game as the winningest pitcher this season in the Majors with 18 victories in 20 decisions.
“It was fun to go out there and go against him,” he said about the Los Angeles lefthander. “You want to go against the best. The only way you are going to have success in this game is if you go against the best. It was fun getting an opportunity against him.”
With his promotion to the Colorado Rockies, Vilade became the ninth Rockies player this season to make an initial appearance in the Majors.
“I think it is a great thing to be in the Rockies organization,” said Vilade, who hit .286 in 108 games with Albuquerque this season while holding the top spot in Triple-A with 76 runs scored at the time of his call-up.
“They give their home-grown guys a chance to do their thing in the big leagues. To be one of nine this year. it’s awesome. That means they trust us. We have a great minor league system with a lot of good players. The future is very bright for the Rockies. We have guys from the AZL (Arizona League) to Triple-A who are all going to big leaguers one day.”
Now that he has made it to the Majors, Vilade is taking things in stride for the remainder of the season with an eye to the future.
“Obviously, just get the feet wet,” he said about his approach. “Enjoy this time here. Enjoy the moment. When I get the opportunity to play, I am going to go out there and do my thing. Have quality at-bats, hard contact, and play solid defense. Just get ready for next season, too. Take this as a learning experience so next year I can be here all year.”
The Colorado Rockies still have a week and a half remaining in the season. The only way Vilade will be able to be recalled by the end of the season is if there is an injury to the active roster so he may not be up for the rest of the season but the Rockies and Vilade hope that he will see much more time at the major league level in 2022.