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Rockies add three on minor league deals including Ty Blach, another Colorado native

Patrick Lyons Avatar
December 18, 2021

Last December, the Colorado Rockies signed RHP Chi Chi González, LHP Zac Rosscup and RHP Joe Harvey to minor league deals that came with invitations to Spring Training. 

While all three had their contracts selected to the big league roster at one point during the season – only González and Rosscup would actually appear for the club – these transactions were largely glossed over. 

Days prior, Colorado had acquired a young left-hander in a trade from the Boston Red Sox and poached RHP Jordan Sheffield from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Rule 5 Draft.

With the work stoppage preventing trades with any of the other 29 teams in MLB or the addition of players to the 40-man roster via free agency, minor league signings have become everything to the baseball-loving populace. 

Thankfully, the Rockies made three acquisitions within a 24-hour period this week. And two have some good potential to contribute in 2022.

OF Tim Lopes and SS Kyle Holder have signed minor league deals with Colorado and LHP Ty Blach has reportedly signed, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com. Though the lockout prevents these players from receiving an invitation to Spring Training, it’s logical to expect it will be the case once the new collective bargaining agreement is signed. 

Lopes was a 6th round selection by the Seattle Mariners in 2012 and was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays as a player to be named later for switch-pitcher Pat Venditte in 2016. He returned to the M’s in 2019 and eventually made his MLB debut that year. 

The 27-year-old was drafted as a middle infielder, but the majority of his 94 career games in the Show have been in the outfield. He has a slash line of .252/.315/.362 during three seasons with Seattle and the Milwaukee Brewers.

Originally the 30th overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees, Holder is a shortstop with above average defensive abilities. He impressed so much during 2019 at Double-A that he was taken by the Cincinnati Reds in the Rule 5 Draft a year ago after a year of anonymity because of the cancelled minor league season in 2020. While he was sent back to the Yankees after 32 at bats (.219/.350/.250) with the Reds in Spring Training 2021, the 27-year-old still turned heads with his glove in Triple-A.

Between Holder and rookie Alan Trejo, the Rockies could be eyeing a competition between these two defense-first shortstops. Such an option would allow the club to spend more elsewhere as opposed to using some of their budget for one of the remaining shortstops available on the free agent market. 

Even more-so, Colorado could consider a platoon at shortstop, something rarely seen in recent years. Manager Bud Black could start the left-handed hitting Holder against a right-handed starting pitchers and use the right-handed hitting Trejo for left-handed starters.

The most interesting of the bunch is Blach, a Denver native who has spent parts of four seasons in the Majors. Debuting with the San Francisco in 2016, he combined to throw 299.1 innings with a 4.36 ERA during his tenure with the Giants through 2018. The southpaw struggled in 2019 and was eventually selected off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles.

Missing all of 2020 following Tommy John surgery in July, the 31-year-old returned in 2021 to pitch 22.0 innings in the lowest levels of the Orioles’ system, showing immense success (1.23 ERA, 23-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio) against players a decade or more younger than him. Regardless, it showed the command for the Regis Jesuit HS graduate had returned on schedule and that perhaps there’s potential for this contact pitcher to miss a few more bats than normal.

Blach should be part of the competition for the fifth man in the rotation following the departure of Jon Gray. The lefty is at a similar stage in his recovery from TJ surgery as RHP Peter Lambert, and his veteran presence over rookies RHP Ryan Feltner and LHP Ryan Rolison, who was only recently added to the 40-man roster, would also be an advantage early in the season.

Blach joins J.D. Hammer as Colorado natives with experience in the big leagues signed by the Rockies this offseason. With LHP Kyle Freeland and LHP Lucas Gilbreath already on the 40-man roster and fellow Regis Jesuit alum LHP Reagan Todd waiting in the wings at Triple-A, there could be five products of the Centennial State appearing on the mound at Coors Field this summer.  

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