Raised in Centennial and a graduate of Regis Jesuit HS in Aurora, Ty Blach will get the ball in the first Spring Training game of 2022 for the Colorado Rockies on Thursday.

Blach was originally signed on a minor league deal by Colorado as starting pitching depth during a time in the offseason when the lockout prevented major league free agents from doing so.

A veteran of four Major League seasons, Blach was a fifth round selection by the San Francisco Giants in 2012 out of Creighton University. Fittingly, his Major League debut was against the Rockies at Coors Field. 

“It was a pretty amazing moment to be running out of the bullpen,” the 31-year-old said of September 5, 2016. “I had done it before pitching there in high school. So I felt really comfortable there. Had a ton of family and friends, so that was a really, really special moment for me in my career.”

Tommy John surgery wiped out 2020, and his 2021 season was limited to 22.0 innings at Low-A Delmarva and the Florida Complex League against players eight to nine years younger.

“I definitely feel like the ball is coming out really good,” Blach said of his fastball post-surgery. “I think there’s potential for it to be harder.”

The experienced left-hander is more than just insurance for the 24-year-old tandem Peter Lambert and Ryan Rolison, who also underwent surgery recently, albeit for appendicitis in 2021.

Manager Bud Black considers Blach as one of three candidates for the club’s role of long reliever along with Ashton Goudeau and aforementioned Rolison.

Training back home at Landow Performance, a familiar training facility in his hometown, Blach was able to prepare for his first full season since 2019. 

“I was just looking for an opportunity to get back to the big leagues and I think there’s a lot of opportunity here,” he said of choosing the Rockies in free agency. “Whether it’s in Triple-A or start the year in the big leagues, I’m just excited to be back knowing that I can pitch that high level again.”

Coming back with Colorado is icing on the cake for a player who grew up rooting for the organization from birth. Blach even says he has memories of Opening Day in 1993 at Mile High Stadium when he was just two years old. And then two years later for the christening of Coors Field on April 26, 1995.

He even had an opportunity to see the team in Spring Training back when the club occupied Hi Corbett Field in Tucson. One year, his family stayed in the team hotel. Blach asked Andrés Galarraga for an autograph one morning and, instead, was invited to eat breakfast with the Big Cat himself. 

“He was always my favorite as a kid,” Blach said of the franchise’s first superstar. “Then when he left it quickly became Todd. What he did for the organization was incredible. A lot of amazing players and a lot of great people in the organization.”

Blach has already caught up with the special guest instructor known as Mr. Rockie. (No word on whether he and Helton shared breakfast yet.) 

“We’ve got Pedro Astacio here right now too and he was an unbelievable pitcher there for a long time,” he said of one the best performing starting pitchers in team history. “So, it’s been really fun to talk to him and kind of pick his brain on how he attacked Coors Field.”

Rosters may expand to accommodate the shortened Spring Training and compressed regular season. 

Regardless, the fate of Ty Blach with the Rockies will be decided in the next three weeks. 

Will it be Kyle Freeland and Lucas Gilbreath once again? Or will have another Colorado native within their ranks on the pitching staff?