The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

Peanuts and Cracker Jack #11: Newcomers on Blake Street

Peter Philpott
Colorado Rockies rookie shortstop Ezequiel Tovar hits a single against the Oakland Athletics on July 30, 2023. Tovar showed consistency in his batting in the 2023 season, leading a new batch of Rockies rookies like Nolan Jones and Brenton Doyle, rookies that I hope will be the future of the team, bringing Colorado back to a respectable position in the league.

It’s no secret that the Colorado Rockies are in the dumps right now. They finished bottom of the National League in 2023, and they lost 103 games.

But this is the time for Colorado to start rebuilding. They can’t rely on veterans whose moment of fame has passed, and must focus on draft picks and developing future stars in the minor league system. The formula has certainly worked for other teams.

Less than half a decade ago, the Baltimore Orioles were bottom of the barrel, with no hope of postseason contention, finishing 52-110 in 2021, 54-108 in 2019, and a revolting 47-115 in 2018. But they survived, and while their postseason was disappointing, they were first in the American League East and second in the MLB, led by superstar rookies Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman.

Can the Rockies replicate Baltimore’s success? In 2024, it’s impossible to give a definite answer.

It all depends on their ability to manage their farm teams, draft picks, and prospect trades. Star players of the past decade like Trevor Story, Nolan Arenado, DJ LeMahieu, and CJ Cron are all gone. The administration needs to find a way to find young stars who can fill their place. If they do so, they can become a World Series contender by the 2030s.

So many rookies have been brought up from the Rockies’ minor league AAA squad, the Albuquerque Isotopes, but some have stood out in a special, game-changing way. It’s also important to mention the older veterans (who might retire soon) that these newcomers might serve to replace.

Nolan Jones is an obligatory mention. He debuted with the Cleveland Guardians, but has had more success in Colorado in his second year of baseball. The outfielder hit .282, batted the best on the team after the all-star break, and had an above-average DRS (defensive runs saved) at 6 on the season.

Jones rushed into the MLB by clubbing a Brobdingnagian three-run walk-off home run (427 feet!) just a few games after his Rockies debut.

He might stand as a replacement for Charlie Blackmon, the 37 year old outfielder who has been slowly pushed towards being a designated hitter because of his slow speed, which is half a foot per second lower than average for right fielders, according to Baseball Savant. It may not seem like a big gap, but half a foot per second makes quite the difference in the outfield.

While he struggles to cover Coors Field’s massive right field area, he can’t be ripped out of the lineup, because he’s still one of the best hitters on the team. He hit .279 in 2023. But at his age, retirement must be coming in the next few years, and Jones has confirmed he can take on the right fielder slot. Along with his skill with a bat, he has the speed that Blackmon lacks to cover the outfield.

Speaking of speed, you can’t talk about the Rockies’ 2023 season without talking about Brenton Doyle. The quick center fielder came into the MLB stealing bases, hitting home runs, and robbing them too. He seemed like he could carry the broken Colorado outfield with his versatile skill.

And he did for about a month. Then he collapsed.

On April 1, in the second game of the season against the Cleveland Guardians, he showed his potential on the basepaths, stealing two bases, collecting a run, and three hits. His streak of decent hitting continued, until he faded into the usual mix of poor Rockies batting, ending the season with a .203 average. But he never ceased to be an incredible fielder.

It seemed like every week there would be a new Doyle diving catch or outfield heroic on the highlight reels. His continued mastery of the expansive Coors outfield earned him a Gold Glove. If he can collect himself at the plate, while keeping his speed and fielding, he could become a real star.

Doyle could replace Kris Bryant, who is in an excruciating cycle of continuous injuries, all while being paid an absurd $182 million dollars over seven years, ending in 2028. Who knows if he will do anything productive until then.

With the old lineup of Story and Arenado at shortstop and third baseman respectively, it seemed like nothing could get through the Rockies left side infielders. Maybe we can hope to continue that tradition with Ezequiel Tovar and Elehuris Montero.

Tovar only made appearances in 9 games in 2022, but became a consistent starter in 2023. He has fully taken over the shortstop position, and he does quite well. He hit a decent .251 in the past season. His fielding is similar to Doyle’s; reliably good, and frequently dazzles with a snazzy sliding grab or leaping catch.

Tovar has great potential. I don’t want to jinx anything, but he doesn’t seem injury-prone, and if he keeps his hitting above .250, he will be the steadfast backbone of the lineup, as he works great in the leadoff spots.

Montero is more spotty. He jumped between the Isotopes and the Rockies a lot, so he’s running out of options before he has to be cut. I genuinely hope that Montero can find his spark in 2024, because we need to find a strong first baseman who can hit like CJ Cron, who was traded to the Los Angeles Angels on July 30 (an agonizing transaction for Cron fans like myself.)

Other new guys, like Alan Trejo or Michael Toglia, provide versatility. Both have displayed the ability to play anywhere as utilities. Trejo was helpful in 2023 as a second and third baseman, but we need more consistency from him to become a quality starter.

Trejo might become a replacement for DJ LeMahieu, who was traded to the New York Yankees in 2019 in one of the most halfwitted front office decisions the Rockies have ever made. LeMahieu had two of his best career seasons, batting .327 in 2019 and a whopping .364 in 2020 (but with a COVID-19 asterisk.)

Toglia is similar to Montero. He has made many switches between Colorado and Albuquerque, and while he has his moments, he needs to collect his act, or get cut.

There are many hopeful prospects in the Rockies system. While we’ve seen many with fielding potential and a handful with batting talent, we are seriously lacking in the pitching department. Pitching has always been our primary predicament, and I don’t see that changing in 2024. But the Rockies seem to be finally understanding how to play the system.

I can expect 2024 and 2025 to be rebuilding years. But maybe in 2026 onwards, our roster of prospects can start pushing us towards a well-needed playoff appearance. We can only hope.

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About the Contributor
Peter Philpott
Peter Philpott, News Editor & Outreach Coordinator
Hey there! My name's Peter, I'm a junior, and I'm the USJ's News Editor and Outreach Coordinator. I believe that the first amendment is incredibly important, and as journalists we have the right and the duty to uphold it. I am very passionate for news reporting, from small, local issues, to major politics or systemic change topics. This is why I love political/breaking news reporting, and one day I hope to be an investigative journalist. I also enjoy artistic photography in my free time. My position as Outreach Coordinator gives me the opportunity to connect to other newspapers, businesses, and families in the community to grow our reach and get our coverage in the hands of more people. I play trumpet and mellophone and I am part of Creek's Marching Band. I'm enthusiastic to inform this school on the happenings of our community, from Capitol Hill to the quad. Also, check out my column, Peanuts and Cracker Jack, where I talk about in-depth baseball!

To contact me by email, access my portfolio, or view my photography Instagram account, click the respective buttons below.

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