The kids are providing much-needed bright spots for the Rockies
Congratulations, Rockies fans, we’re almost to September! Meaning, there’s only about a month more of losing baseball that you have to watch at 20th and Blake (until 2020 at least).
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Since my last article, there has been some better things happening for the Rockies. Maybe not so much in the “win” column, as the Rockies have still lost six games in the past seven days, including a couple of losses to the Red Sox to start the week at home.
But the team has enjoyed the success of a few players who could be fun to watch down the stretch in the final month of the regular season. Lately, I’ve had nothing but negative pieces about the Rockies. This one, though, will look at the bright side of things for the Rockies and the hope of better days ahead.
First, pitcher Tim Melville has looked sensational in both of his starts since joining the teams rotation. Melville, who was vaulted into the rotation due to injuries, has truly seized the moment. In two starts with the Rockies, he has a 0.75 ERAm while striking out 10 total batters and getting his first career win in the big leagues. What’s more impressive is that Melville’s two strong performances came against a pretty good Diamondbacks lineup in Arizona and at Coors Field against a strong Braves lineup.
Can Melville keep it up? Maybe or maybe not. The one-time pitching phenom hasn’t enjoyed a lot of success in the big leagues thus far since being drafted in 2008. But from time to time, you do see some Renaissance men in baseball. I won’t run down the whole list for you, but if you need a recent example just look at Eric Thames of the Brewers.
Hopefully, Melville can keep it up and build towards 2020, where he might be a cheap option for the Rockies to re-sign. If not, at least he can eat up some innings down the stretch.
Other good news for the Rockies is the team called up outfielder prospect Sam Hilliard on Tuesday evening. As I laid out in an article a few weeks ago, Hilliard was one of the players in triple-A that I really wanted to see get a shot in the big leagues at the end of the season. Hilliard didn’t disappoint, as he collected his first big league hit and home run in the same at-bat. Hilliard has put up some good numbers this season at Albuquerque. He hit .262 with 35 home runs and 101 runs driven in this year at the AAA level. He also added 22 steals.
Now, the PCL (Pacific Coast League) is known to be a very happy and friendly environment for offensive players. Sometimes PCL numbers can be inflated a little. However, Coors Field is also known as an extremely hitter-friendly environment.
The hit tool for Hilliard does take some criticism, as he only hit .262 in the minors this year. That’s something I wouldn’t worry too much about, though. Even with some big league regression, if Hilliard were to hit .250 or .240 or even .230, it would be worth it if he provides power and a little bit of speed to the lineup. Plus, the way the game is being played now is all about swinging and missing a lot, while generating power on the swings you do hit the ball on. So maybe Hilliard can put up some big numbers down the stretch for the Rockies. Or, maybe he will struggle slightly and get some on-the-job big league training for the future. Either way, Hilliard is someone I’m extremely excited about and someone that will gain valuable experience the rest of the way. He’s someone to keep your eye on.
Another piece of good news for the Rockies is that other fellow outfielder prospect Yonathan Daza has started to hit a little bit. He’s not scorching red-hot or mashing a ton of home runs, but Daza seems to be coming around now that he’s getting a little more playing time. Over the past seven days going into Wednesday night, Daza is hitting .313. This is a step in the right direction for someone who has hit .300 almost every year in the minor leagues.
Daza is still looking for his first extra base hit of his career, but if he keeps hitting and heating up, it’s only a matter of time before one of his hits go for extra bases. Daza hopefully will continue to heat up and could show the club that he should be in the team’s plans for 2020, as either a starting option trade piece or a fourth outfielder.
Some other silver linings from the Rockies this past week: Ryan McMahon has continued to show some good numbers and better numbers than he did at the start of the season. McMahon hit a walk-off, two-run home run against the Braves at Coors Field on Monday afternoon. McMahon looks like he should be the team’s starting first baseman next season, especially now that he’s showing off his power and his ability to come up with clutch hits. That would also allow the team to play Brendan Rodgers every day at second base next season. It’s just a question of, “Can you get rid of Daniel Murphy via trade this offseason?” Even if you can’t, I would expect McMahon to take an even bigger leap next year production wise hopefully.
Finally, the Rockies are trying out some players they would have never gotten the chance to see had they been in a playoff race right now. Yes, you would rather see your team trying to make the playoffs and not playing a ton of younger players or players that haven’t gotten a shot to play yet. It does however give you a sense of where this team is at talent-wise in the minor leagues. Good teams can keep churning out talent and keep providing the “next man up” consistently. I know the Rockies depth was already a huge question, but this should allow the Rockies front office to really put an emphasis on improving the teams depth and minor-league system this offseason and beyond.
It’s been a painful second half Rockies fans, but it’s almost over with about a month to go. Once again, though, there has been some bright spots or spots where you can feel hopeful or excited to watch in September. The calendar flipping to September will also allow the team to expand its roster and try some other options out as well. Don’t be surprised if you see Jeff Hoffman get his last chance at starting for the Rockies in the big leagues. Even if there are some clunkers down the stretch to watch, there’s certainly going to be many things the Rockies and Rockies fans can take away from the end of the 2019 season.