An Early Look at Projected Rockies Opening Day Roster

Tracy Ringolsby

First came the premature ending to spring training because of the coronavirus outbreak. Then came the postponement of the regular season, which dragged on while the owners and players debated what the 2020 season would look like.

Finally, after an agreement couldn't be reached, the owners exercised their right to install a 60-game regular season. Summer camps open this weekend, with the Rockies getting started on Saturday in preparation for the season to open July 23 or 24.

The schedule has not been finalized yet.

But the preparation is starting for a season that will include a 30-man active roster on Opening Day with reductions to 28 players after two weeks, and then, two weeks later, to 26 players, although teams will be allowed to add a 27th for doubleheaders.

Glancing at a not-so-crystal-ball, here's a possible Opening Day 30 and the 3-man taxi squad that will accompany the team on road trips in case of an injury:

Rotation

Rockies are going with a five-man alignment. With a three-week camp to get ready, and likelihood of no exhibition games, don't look for any of the five to work deep into the game in the first two weeks. 

German Marquez -- Emerged as ace of the staff a year ago.

Jon Gray -- Coming off most consistent season of his career. Didn't let little things get to him.

Kyle Freeland -- Lone lefthander showed first two years he can be a solid member of rotation. Something in between rookie season and 2018 season would be welcomed -- and is very doable.

Antonio Senzatela -- Showed signs of overpowering hitters, but key will be building off late-season suggestions in 2019 from former bullpen coach Darren Holmes.

Chi Chi Gonzalez -- In his comeback from Tommy John surgery, Gonzalez got over the hump last September (2-0, 1.65 ERA, 5 games, 4 starts, 26 strikeouts 27 1/3 innings)

starters

Bullpen

Start at the back end with Wade Davis and Scott Oberg, and go from there with what figures to be as big as an 11-man bullpen to open the season to take the work load off the starters.

Late Innings

Wade Davis -- Veteran looks to rebound in the role of a closer. Figures to reduce his four-pitch mix. Even in disappointing season converted 17 of 20 saves.

Scott Oberg -- Healthy and ready to go after signing 3-year, $13 million deal with option for fourth year at $8 million. Set-up man who can close.

Righthanders

Bryan Shaw -- Two years at Coors Field have been a challenge for the right-hander, who has shown durability in the past. 

Jario Diaz -- Established himself as dependable bullpen arm a year ago, 56 appearances, 5-for-6 in September saves.

Carlos Estevez -- Coming off first full big-league season, striking out 81 in 72 innings with 3.75 ERA.

Jeff Hoffman -- Gives Rockies length out of the bullpen, particularly in opening weeks, and could be sixth starter if needed.

Tyler Kinley -- Claimed off waivers from Miami in December; 3.65 ERA in 52 appearances with Miami in 2019, and 1.72 ERA in 15 2/3 innings AAA New Orleans.

Lefthanders

James Pazos -- Acquired in minor league trade from Phillies; 1.74 ERA in 12 late-season relief appearances after struggle at Albuqeurque (8.80 ERA, 39 appearances).

Jake McGee -- Veteran lefty goes into season in final year of his guaranteed contract. He has struggled in four years with Rockies (4-11, 4.78) .

Phillip Diehl -- Acquired in last spring's deal that sent Mike Tauchman to the Yankees, fits as a left-handed specialist, although this year a reliever has to face three batters unless an inning ends first.

Tim Collins -- Missed 2015 and 2016 seasons with Tommy John surgery.  Spent time in the Twins, Reds and Cubs systems last year.

relievers

Catchers

Tony Wolters was a second baseman the Rockies claimed on waivers at the start of spring training 2016. Converted to a catcher, he has made impressive strides, earning the starting job with the Rockies. Elias Diaz signed as a minor league free agent in the winter, providing a right-handed-hitting compliment for left-handed hitting Wolters.

Tony Wolters (LH hitter) -- Pitchers like throwing to Wolters, who gives a low target. Can throw runners out, and will hit for average, but power is lacking.

Elias Diaz (RH hitter) -- Solid defensive player who is coming off career-high 101 appearances with the Pirates, 96 as a catcher.

catchers

Infielders

1B -- Daniel Murphy (LH hitter) -- Move from second to first hasn't been as smooth as had been hoped. Missed most of April with hand injury. Tried to hurry back and seemed to impact his abilities.

2B -- Ryan McMahon (LH hitter) -- It's not just that he is versatile, but the former high school quarterback has shown not only can he hit, but is a plus defensive player at third, first and second.

3B -- Nolan Arenado (RH hitter) -- Total package. In last five years has been top offensive producer annually, and is a virtual lock in Gold Glove voting each year.

SS -- Trevor Story (RH hitter) -- A manager's dream at short. He's annual contender for Gold Glove while hitting 30-plus home runs, and stealing 20-plus bases each of last two years.

2B-3B-SS-OF -- Chris Owings (RH hitter) -- The ultimate utility player, Owings has started games at every position except 1B, C and pitcher. Originally a shortstop, he is smooth with the glove with offensive potential.

2B-CF -- Garrett Hampson (RH hitter) -- Spent three tours with Rockies last year, including being on Opening Day roster. Provides plus speed on bases. Adjusting well to time in center field.

2B-SS -- Brendan Rodgers (RH hitter) -- Expected to miss couple months of this season in recovering from hand injury of a year ago, he benefited from the coronavirus shutdown. Was ranked No. 1 prospect in organization prior to 2019.

1B-3B -- Josh Fuentes (RH hitter) -- Cousin of Arenado, Fuentes has made an impression of his own in his path to the big leagues. Quality defensive player who is not a big home run threat, but drives the ball. 

infield

Outfielders

LF -- Raimel Tapia (LH hitter) -- Has speed, strong arm, and surprising power for 175 pounds, but still looking to create consistency in the field and at the plate. 

CF -- David Dahl (LH hitter) -- Legitimate arm, bat and speed, but the 2019 All-Star battles injuries that have sidelined him for extensive time, including a strained abdominal muscle last May, and season-ending high right ankle sprain Aug. 3.

RF -- Charlie Blackmon (LH hitter) -- Made move to right field last year, which isn't easy at Coors Field with tall scoreboard and short fence, but hasn't slowed him down at the plate.

OF/DH Matt Kemp (RH hitter) -- Rockies have fingers crossed that at age 35 he can rebound from struggles that limited his big-league time a year ago. Healthy, he is a definite power threat.

outfield

Taxi Squad

Each team will be permitted to have a three-player inactive taxi squad for road games, making it easier for them to fill a hole if an injury develops.

C -- Drew Butera (RH hitter) -- Son of long-time big-league catcher Sal Butera, Drew has spent September with the Rockies the past two years. Excellent handler of pitchers.

OF -- Sam Hilliard (LH hitter) -- Big-time power, strikes out a lot but hits for average. Don't be deceived by 6-foot-5, 230-pound build, has plus speed and can play all three outfield spots.

RHP -- Peter Lambert -- Made his MLB debut with 19 starts last year. Beat Cubs at Wrigley and Coors in his first two starts. Not overpowering. Has to hit spots.

taxi
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