The Colorado Rockies gave a lot of playing time to young players in 2021. They had the third-youngest offense in the National League and the fourth-youngest pitching staff in the NL.
By the end of the season, the Rockies had nine players make their MLB debut for the team and eight more players that had less than one year of MLB service time appeared in games with the team and many more with service time between one and two years.
However, some of those players may be on thin ice with the team, may need some more time in the minor leagues, or may not be back in the Rockies organization in 2021.
Here are three players that fall into that category.
Colorado Rockies catcher Dom Nuñez
Entering the 2021 season, Dom Nuñez was the primary catcher for the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies non-tendered catcher Tony Wolters so that Nuñez could take over the reins.
However, instead of Nuñez taking over the reins, it has been Elias Díaz who has established himself as the primary catcher.
Nuñez played in 37 games (34 starts) through June 1 but he only hit .167/.262/.389. In that same span, Díaz played in 28 games (21 starts) and he was only hitting .123/.191/.185.
But after that, Nuñez only played in 44 games (40 starts) and improved at the plate as he hit .208/.309/.408. But Díaz was way better and saw more playing time as he played in 78 games (66 starts) and hit .284/.348/.553.
Nuñez was the only Rockies player on offense in 2021 to have a negative WAR with more than 40 plate appearances as well so the Rockies could decide to look elsewhere for a backup catcher for Díaz.
Colorado Rockies infielder Joshua Fuentes
Joshua Fuentes isn’t necessarily a “young” player but he had just over one year of MLB service time entering 2021 so he qualifies as “young” for our purposes.
His bat hasn’t developed. That’s the short story but it’s not a surprising story, despite hitting over .300 in 30 games in the 60-game 2020 season. The peripheral stats showed that he was having some massively good luck, like a staggering .406 BABIP, so it’s not surprising that the luck ran out.
In 2021, the Rockies finally sent him back to Triple-A Albuquerque in late July after hitting .228/.261/.357 in 90 games (64 starts). He only played in five more games at the MLB level in 2021.
After a slow start in Triple-A, he ended up with a .269 average and a .816 OPS there.
His saving grace is his phenomenal defense at both third base and first base but the Rockies may decide to give up on him just because his bat has been so weak at the MLB level.
Colorado Rockies pitcher Ryan Castellani
This is, most definitely, the least controversial name on this list.
Ryan Castellani has likely seen his time run out in the Rockies organization. He has pitched poorly at the major league level and in Triple-A Albuquerque.
In Triple-A in 2021, he was 3-11 with a 6.25 ERA. He averaged nearly seven walks per nine innings and in 2019 in Triple-A, he was 2-5 with an 8.31 ERA in 10 starts with more than six walks per nine innings.
With those numbers in Triple-A, there’s no wonder why he has seen such poor numbers at the MLB level.
There’s a reason why he and everyone else at Triple-A was skipped and the Rockies went to Ryan Feltner when they needed a starter in early September: Simply put, Castellani hasn’t been very good.