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Colorado Rockies Opening Day: Full Roster Breakdown

Jake Shapiro Avatar
April 4, 2016

The Colorado Rockies begin their 2016 campaign today. It’s Opening Day! … Again.

Pundits and prognosticators will predict and roughly half of it will be close to correct. There will be plenty of time during the coming 162 games to discuss where this team is headed but let’s take one last look at exactly who these guys have been so far before they take the field this evening in Phoenix.

The BSN Rockies staff presents your Colorado Rockies:

Pitching

By Jake Shapiro

Starters:

Jorge De La Rosa: The Rockies’ ace may be entering his ninth and final season as a Rockie. At least the final year of his contract. The widely under-appreciated De La Rosa looks to once again build on a spectacular year. In 2015, he went 9-7 with a 4.17 ERA in 26 starts. At times JDLR still showed he could dominate at 34-years-old. The veteran will lead the young Rockies staff having almost as many innings pitched as a Rockie as the rest of them combined.

Chad BettisThe most forgotten about prospect for a time in the Rockies system was left for dead after his unsuccessful stint in the bullpen in 2014. But he bounced back big time last season and was arguably the best pitcher on the club. His raised strikeout rates contributed to an 8-6 record and 4.23 ERA.

Tyler ChatwoodComing off a Tommy John Surgery which has essentially cost him two seasons, Chatwood was long forgotten but the 26-year-old righty put together one of the best pitching seasons in Rockies history in 2013 and judging by his performances during spring training he still has that left in him.

Jordan LylesAfter 10 starts in 2015, his season was derailed by a foot injury. The biggest concern with Lyles continues to be his health, but when healthy he is a solid fourth starter on any good team and Rockies will be very happy to get his level of production back.

Relievers:

Christian BergmanThe Rockies will start with an eight-man bullpen which is something they used for a large portion of last year. One of the reasons they had such a full bullpen was Bergman. In his long relief/spot-start role he was very effective. His 3-1 record and 4.74 ERA in 68.1 innings pitched was one of the only bright spots in what was a very bad bullpen last season.

Miguel CastroThe only prospect from the Tulowitzki trade that has reached the majors, the uber young right-hander is the franchise’s future closer. In limited action last year he struggled but with the blockbuster trade that saw him packing his bags from north of the border, his 2015 season was tumultuous. Even before coming to Colorado he made the rare jump in Toronto Blue Jays organization from High-A to the Majors. That is rarely a good thing.

Jason GurkaSeemingly coming out of nowhere the 28-year-old began the season in Double-A last year and rose to the majors. In nine appearances he struggled but his strikeouts flashed plus and that’s why the Rockies are giving him a chance.

Boone LoganThe Rockies overpaid LOOGY (Lefty One Out GuY) is in his final season of a three-year deal. When he isn’t misused by the Rockies he’s a solid pitcher. Left-handers find it almost impossible to hit him but righties hit Logan with ease.

Justin MillerThe 28-year-old very much earned his roster spot. In 2015, he started in Double-A and ended closing games in the majors. His 10.3 K/9 rate in 34 appearances is something that has the Rockies very excited. He was also able to keep his ERA to a very good 4.05.

Chad QuallsPicked up in the offseason the 12-year veteran is one of the more accomplished active relievers in the game. In 781 games pitched he has a 3.80 ERA and a 3.74 FIP. He’s racked up 74 saves and 171 holds in 758 innings. He can play a variety of roles and should begin the season as the primary setup man.

Chris RusinPrimarily a starter last season, Rusin is a bulldog. It looks as though he and Bergman will be long-relief options to start the year. Rusin is someone that enamored the Rockies last year with his tenacity and grit. One wonders how he’ll fair in his new role.

Closer:

Jake McGeeThe main piece in the Corey Dickerson trade, McGee at 29-years-old has been a force from the left side for years in the AL for the Tampa Bay Rays. His trio of fastballs are almost un-hittable leading to his 2.77 career ERA. He’s racked up 27 Saves in his career, most of which came in 2014.

Pitchers soon-to-impact:

Jon GrayA slight hiccup has the top prospect starting the season on the DL. He’s expected back at the latest around the third week of April. He’ll look to build off of his nine winless starts coming at the end of last season where he flashed some of what he has to offer. He struck out almost a batter an inning while keeping his ERA at 5.53 which isn’t bad considering the sample size. He was much better on the road than at home and hopes to get Coors Field under control a little bit this season.

Tyler Anderson: The 2014 Texas League Pitcher of The Year missed the entire 2015 season but is expected to impact the club at the major league level soon. The 26-year-old will begin the season on the DL but he could be seen in a starter or long relief role before the end of spring.

David HaleHis numbers weren’t that good last season, but he came into some tough spots and did everything that was asked of him, expect his name to be among the first to get a call should an injury occur among the Rockies regulars.

Jason MotteOne of the key acquisitions of the offseason, Motte (33) has a very accomplished seven-year big league career which includes a World Series ring for the 2o11 Cardinals. In 368 games he has a 26-14 record with a  3.16 ERA and an 8.7 K/9 rate. He noticeably loosened the Cubs’ clubhouse last year and he is expected to help lead this young Rockies staff.

Adam OttavinoIn ten outings last season he didn’t allow a single run to score. But he missed a majority of the season with a torn UCL which needed Tommy John surgery. He quickly won the Closer job in 2015 and once back and at full strength he could do the same in 2016. His slider was dominant and his fastball was brilliant during his short 2015 season.

Contributors

Tyler Matzek, Eddie Butler, Jeff Hoffman, Yohan FlandeScott Oberg Carlos EstevezGonzalez GermenBrian Schlitter

Catcher

By Nick Tremaroli

Starter

Nick Hundley: Despite the growing anticipation surrounding top catching prospect Tom Murphy, Nick Hundley was named the Opening Day starter behind the plate. As an all-around solid player, Hundley brings veteran catching experience and a solid bat to the lineup. While he is often criticized for some of his defensive skills (i.e. pitch framing and blocking), in his first year with the Rockies, Hundley showed that he knew how to effectively manage a pitching staff. He is also coming off of one of the best offensive years of his career. In 2015, Hundley posted a .301 BA and a .339 OBP, both career bests.

In 2016, look for a bit of offensive regression, but he still projects to be a solid catcher with the ability to get the most out of his battery mates. If he can keep his average around or above the .275 mark while continuing to be a calming force behind the plate, his 2016 should be considered a success.

Backup:

Tony Wolters: One of the Rockies’ newest faces played well enough this spring to make the team. At the beginning of the spring, the Rockies signed him as a kind of minor league depth player. Out of nowhere, Wolters showed off his versatility and came on very strong in camp. He impressed all the right people enough to beat out presumptive backup Dustin Garneau. One of Wolters’ best assets is his versatility. In addition to catcher, he can play middle infield. Wolters will add some good depth to the Rockies lineup in 2016 that it didn’t previously have. However, he hasn’t seen playing time above Double-A, so time will tell if his bat can play at the Major League level.

Contributors:

Tom Murphy, Dustin Garneau, Jackson Williams

Infield

By Jake Shapiro

First Base:

Ben PaulsenIn 2014, Paulsen flashed a bit of what he could do in just 31 games. In 2015, Paulsen followed up with 116 games of really solid play. He mashed right-hand pitcher but struggled against lefties and that’s why he’ll be platooning his position this year. He’s nothing to write home about on defense but he’s a team player with a consistent bat.

Mark ReynoldsThe nine-year big leaguer is the definition of a slugger, a lot of strikeouts and a lot of home runs. One of the more quiet pickups of the offseason has had several uneventful years since 2011 when he hit 37 home runs. In the four years since he’s hit 79. Surprising to most people the big bopper is actually not a liability on defense. The combination of him against lefties and Paulsen against righties should make up for an okay first base platoon.

Second Base

DJ LeMahieuIn what would be his fourth straight season as the undisputed starter at second base LeMahieu really blossomed, highlighted by his All-Star Game appearance. The 27-year-old factors to once again be one of the better defensive two-baggers in the game while boasting the potential to bat .300. An area of his game that has been overlooked is his base running, from 2014 to 2015, he swiped 13 more bags while being caught seven fewer times. If Walt Weiss decides to bat him second, or near the bottom of the order he won’t go wrong either way.

Third Base

Nolan ArenadoThe almost-25-year-old just keeps getting better, his 2015 season put his name among the elite in baseball. Arenado’s stellar defense, which has earned him three consecutive Gold Gloves, has somehow been eclipsed by his bat. He saw his power surge in 2015, leading the National League in home runs with 42, and RBI with 130. He did all of that while keeping a consistent batting average of .287. Arenado, primed for the MVP conversation, has taken over Troy Tulowitzki‘s spot as the face of the Colorado Rockies.

Shortstop

Trevor StoryThe rookie shortstop has yet to play in a single game and he will become the first player to debut on Opening Day since Jason Heyward did it in 2010. He’s currently the club’s ninth best prospect and was once the 34th best prospect in all of baseball. In 2015, he split the season between Double-A and Triple-A where he hit .279/.350/.514 with 20 HR, 80 RBI and 22 SB. He is almost a five-tool prospect as the only thing missing is consistency from his bat.

Backup

Cristhian Adames: In two short stints with the big club, he hasn’t shown much and perhaps the start of this season will be his last chance to contribute.

Contributors

Jose Reyes, Rafael Ynoa, Jeff Bianchi, Chris Nelson, Pat Valaika

Outfield

By Jake Shapiro

Probable Starters:

Carlos GonzalezComing off of a major rebound year, the two-time All-Star looks to lead the Rockies outfield. His first 40 home run season came in 2015. His power numbers surged in the second half and despite a lackluster start to the season, he still ended up hitting .271. The reason for all of this was health, and it appears CarGo is once again healthy. The major concern about Gonzalez is that his defense has taken a step back. But the overall improved defense of the Rockies outfield should make up for any issues Gonzalez may bring in that area. Look for CarGo to have a solid 2016, it won’t be quite as magical as 2015 seemed to be but if he brings more consistency over 162 games the organization will be happy.

Charlie BlackmonQuietly, he had his best year in 2015 and it looks like he’s only improving. The leadoff man doubled his amount of stolen bases from 2014 to 2015 and he improved defensively (by some metrics) to about an average defensive centerfielder. One could expect Blackmon who has had over 1,300 plate appearances in the last two years to be again in the lineup just as much as anyone for the Rockies. Blackmon’s one problem has been hitting left-handed pitching. With the Rockies starting three left-handers in the outfield, all three players will have to be able to show improvements in this regard.

Gerardo ParraThe most notable free-agent addition to the club had his worst year of big league ball in 2015, but the former two-time Gold Glover looks to solidify an athletic and versatile outfield. Parra doesn’t need to be the best outfielder on the club or even the second best, he just needs to do his job, and if stays consistent with his career averages he’ll bolster the spot. Over his career, he’s about an average to slightly above offensive player that can bring exceptional defense. With the Rockies moving towards speed and defense Parra is just a representation of the philosophy.

Backups:

Ryan RaburnThe most volatile player in MLB history and a late addition to the club, Raburn offers versatility on defense and the main right-handed bat off the bench on offense. Raburn should play a lot this season as it seems he is first off the bench and the intended answer to the Rockies woes against left-handed pitching.

Brandon BarnesThe stats on Barnes aren’t noteworthy, but he is the sparkplug off of the bench that every team needs. He has a solid glove and is very much liked in the clubhouse. His speed is also a nice tool to have off the bench.

Ben PaulsenThe left-handed hitter will mostly platoon first base with Mark Reynolds but he played 20 games in the outfield last season and we can expect to see him get a bit of time in the corners once again.

Contributors

Raimel TapiaDavid DahlJordan Patterson, Mike Tauchman

Bench:

By Matan Halzel

This year’s Colorado Rockies bench will feature Cristhian Adames, Brandon Barnes, Daniel Descalso, Ryan Rayburn, Mark Reynolds and Tony Wolters. The Rockies will begin the season with five bench players. Descalso fractured his hand a week ago and will start the season on the Disabled List. Descalso was supposed to be the Rockies’ infield utility man this season, so look for Adames to slide right into that role until Descalso returns. Brandon Barnes will be the fourth outfielder for the Rockies this season, providing great energy on and off the field for the team. Rayburn also made the opening day roster as an outfielder, but he is capable of playing third base if needed. Mark Reynolds was brought aboard this offseason to platoon first base with Ben Paulsen, and Tony Wolters will back up Nick Hundley at catcher.

Overall, the Rockies bench has the potential to be mediocre, and really nothing more. Descalso is known primarily for his glove, Adames is a question mark to start the season. Barnes and Rayburn will be relied upon fairly heavily as right-handed bats since the Rockies entire starting outfield is left-handed. Tony Wolters is only 23-years-old and hits left-handed which could complement Nick Hundley quite nicely, even though Hundley has reverse splits. Mark Reynolds has 237 career home runs, and while he only hit 13 of them last season, he is fully capable of hitting 20 or even 30 in a season at 32-years-old at Coors Field. Reynolds was also raking down in Arizona during spring training, hitting .341 so he could find himself as the opening day starter.

Potential Contributors:

David Dahl, Tom Murphy, Raphael Ynoa, Michael Tauchman, Jordan Patterson
The Colorado Rockies begin play today. And anything could happen.

 

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