The Coors Effect

February 20, 2010 1:23 PM

Spring training preview: NRI hitters

On Monday, we reviewed the pitchers who are in camp as non-roster invitees.  Today, it's on to the hitters.

Paul Lo Duca
Last season: Did not play.
My first thought on seeing Lo Duca (age 37 on Opening Day) on the list of non-roster invitees was: He's still around?  Theoretically, Lo Duca, who hit .230/.301/.281 in 139 AB for the Nationals in 2008, could challenge for the backup catcher spot.  Then again, look at that line and realize that that was two years ago, Lo Duca hasn't played at all since 2008, and that the Rockies have several more appealing options, and you see that Lo Duca is more likely to hang around Colorado Springs and be this year's Sal Fasano.

Jordan Pacheco
Last season: .322/.379/.492, 13 HR, 79 RBI, 12 SB, 44 K, 38 BB in 451 AB at Asheville
Pacheco (age 24) was undoubtedly helped by the hitter-friendly environment in Asheville, but he looks like a solid hitter who draws walks and hits for average and some power.  The questions mostly have to do with his defense.  Pacheco, a converted second baseman, isn't even close to being a good defensive catcher right now.  He's highly unlikely to make the Rockies this season, but could be an interesting prospect in a year or two.

Paul Phillips
Last season: .276/.295/.382, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 18 K, 4 BB in 123 AB at Colorado Springs; .311/.396/.422, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 3 K, 7 BB in 45 AB for the Rockies
Phillips (age 32) is not that likely to make the team; more likely, he's an emergency candidate who will split time with Michael McKenry at Colorado Springs, and he'll get a callup if one of the Rockies catchers gets hurt and the Rockies feel like McKenry isn't ready.

Wilin Rosario
Last season: .266/.297/.404, 4 HR, 33 RBI, 2 SB, 55 K, 10 BB in 203 AB at Modesto
Rosario (age 21) might be the Rockies' top catching prospect, but that has more to do with projection than anything else as he's nowhere near as refined as McKenry or even Pacheco.  He struggled at Modesto, but that was after making the jump all the way from rookie-level Casper, and performed well in the Arizona Fall League, though he still doesn't know how to work a walk.  Worst-case scenario, he's Yorvit Torrealba.  Again, he's unlikely to make the Rockies this year, but will be interesting in a year or two.

Jonathan Herrera
Last season: .268/.353/.339, 2 HR, 33 RBI, 16 SB, 51 K, 49 BB in 381 AB at Colorado Springs
It would take a whole bunch of injuries up the middle for Herrera (age 25) to make the team.

Darin Holcomb
Last season: .271/.348/.411, 13 HR, 52 RBI, 3 SB, 50 K, 54 BB in 479 AB at Tulsa
Holcomb (age 24) struggled at first with the jump from Asheville to Tulsa, but eventually turned things around and had a nice season.  With excellent strike-zone discipline, Holcomb could be a nice hitter, but the Rockies need to see how he adjusts to Triple-A.  His defense also needs work, from most reports.

Jeff Kindel
Last season: .265/.363/.369, 6 HR, 64 RBI, 7 SB, 87 K, 68 BB in 464 AB at Tulsa
Kindel (age 27) is a first baseman who doesn't hit.  That's all you really need to know.

Mike Paulk
Last season: .288/.380/.402, 8 HR, 60 RBI, 7 SB, 69 K, 63 BB in 413 AB at Tulsa
Paulk (age 25) is a first baseman who can hit a bit, but not nearly enough to play first base in the majors.

Omar Quintanilla
Last season: .172/.273/.207, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 27 K, 8 BB in 58 AB for the Rockies
Rockies fans should be familiar enough with Quintanilla (age 28) that I shouldn't have to comment much, except to say that Rockies probably won't feel the need to carry him on the roster all year in 2010.  Yes, you're reading that correctly; Quintanilla was on the roster all season and got 58 AB, fewer than some pitchers.  Quintanilla was also a worse hitter than some pitchers.

Chris Frey
Last season: .269/.318/.366, 4 HR, 30 RBI, 15 SB, 53 K, 22 BB in 320 AB at Colorado Springs
Frey (age 26) is a nice player to have around if an outfielder gets hurt, but the Rockies are going to have issues if he's getting regular playing time in the outfield.

Cole Garner
Last season: .288/.342/.492, 16 HR, 64 RBI, 13 SB, 78 K, 23 BB in 396 AB at Tulsa
Here's an interesting stat: Garner (age 25) hit .330/.386/.557 vs. lefties, though that was in AA.  That alone gives him a chance to make the Rockies' lefty-heavy outfield, but more likely, he'll start the year in Colorado Springs and could get a call if Spilborghs struggles as he did for much of 2009.

Matt Miller
Last season: .319/.380/.476, 9 HR, 98 RBI, 4 SB, 78 K, 51 BB in 523 AB at Colorado Springs
Miller (age 27) has hit at every stop in the minors (he's a career .311/.374/.472 hitter in the minors), but he's never gotten a shot with the Rockies.  The main problem is that he's an outfield tweener: he's not a good enough fielder to play center, and doesn't hit for enough power to play in the corners.  And he doesn't hit lefties well enough (.289/.358/.389 in 2009) to be a platoon player.

Jay Payton
Last season: Did not play.
Payton (age 37) did not play baseball at all in 2009, and only hit .243/.291/.346 in 2008, so he's probably done.  Considering that, among others, Frey, Garner, and Miller will all be roaming the outfield at Colorado Springs this season, the Rockies really don't even have much room to carry Payton at Triple-A.

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