Colorado Rockies Week 17 Review: July 27-August 2

I was not expecting this  guy to be the starting shortstop at any point this season. Photo Credit Dilip Vashwanat - Getty Images North America
I was not expecting this guy to be the starting shortstop at any point this season.
Photo Credit Dilip Vashwanat – Getty Images North America

Raise your hand if you saw that coming. Yeah, me either. Week 17 of the 2015 Colorado Rockies season saw the highest profile trade in the organization’s 22-year history as they sent face of the franchise Troy Tulowitzki and LaTroy Hawkins to the Toronto Blue Jays for a four player package of shortstop Jose Reyes and right-handed pitchers Jeff Hoffman, Miguel Castro, and Jesus Tinoco. It’s perfectly alright to be sad about the departure of Tulo, I cried when I heard the news that he had been traded. When you spend as long as Rockies fans spent watching Tulo be one of the best players in baseball, it’s completely natural to be upset when that unexpectedly gets taken away from you. So please, be sad all you want. However, don’t take this as a sign that the organization doesn’t want to win.

We really won’t have any idea who did better in this trade for a while. Three years from now, we could see a still-productive Tulowitzki playing for a contending Blue Jays squad while the Hoffman, Castro, Tinoco trio has flamed out for the Rockies. On the other hand, we also might see an aging, less productive and more oft-injured Tulowitzki hampering the Blue Jays chances of success while Hoffman, Castro, and Tinoco are all having success with the Rockies. Most likely, the trade will land somewhere in between those extremes, but the point is that it’s still way too early to know if this trade will be good for the Rockies down the line. For now, let’s take a look at the four players the Rockies acquired.

Jose Reyes

Reyes is the “name” in this trade, so he’s who a lot of people will focus on. The reality, however, is that Reyes really is not a big piece in the trade. He represents a very solid shortstop – since 2011 he is third among qualified shortstops in fWAR – who the Rockies can play in the short-term while prospects like Trevor Story, Cristhian Adames, and Brendan Rodgers develop in the minors. However, the Tulowitzki trade is the signal that the Rockies are going to look to rebuild, so look for the club to try to move Reyes either before the August 31st waiver trade deadline or at some point during the offseason. So far in 2015, Reyes has posted a .277/.315/.373 slash line, good for an 87 wRC+, across 328 plate appearances.

Jeff Hoffman

Despite not having the name recognition of Reyes, Jeff Hoffman is the real centerpiece of this trade. Heading into the 2014 draft, Hoffman was viewed as a legitimate candidate to be taken first overall until he was injured and forced to undergo Tommy John surgery. The injury led to him dropping all the way to ninth overall where he was drafted by the Blue Jays. Now healthy and pitching in games again, Hoffman has put up a 3.11 ERA in 14 starts between high-A and Double-A. He has walked 17 and struck out 52 in 72 1/3 innings. In MLB Pipeline’s (m.mlb.com/prospects/2015?list=col) midseason update, Hoffman ranked the 58th best prospect in baseball and the fourth best in the Rockies’ system. Here’s what they had to say about him:

“When healthy, Hoffman stands out for his stuff, size and athleticism. His fastball sits in the mid 90s and regularly reaches 98 mph. His big curveball is nearly as good as his fastball, and his changeup gives him a third above-average offering. He fills up the strike zone already and his athleticism gives scouts hope he’ll be able to continue to refine his command as a professional.

If Hoffman is able to return to the form he showed in college, he’ll now give the Rockies another impact arm.”

Miguel Castro

The 20-year old Castro is considered the second best prospect the Rockies got in the trade. Castro moved extremely quickly through the Blue Jays system working primarily as a reliever and even made 13 Major League appearances with the Blue Jays earlier this season and put up a 4.38 ERA in 12 1/3 innings. In his 26 2/3 minor league innings in high-A and Triple-A, Castro has a 3.38 ERA. For the Rockies, the plan is to continue using him in relief for the remainder of the 2015 season with an eye on likely converting back into a starting role for 2016. MLB Pipeline slots Castro in as the Rockies 10th best prospect, here’s what they have to say about him:

“Castro has gotten stronger since signing and has added velocity to his fastball as a result. He now throws in the mid 90s and can reach 99 mph with the pitch. He commands his fastball well and creates groundballs thanks to its natural life. His changeup is his best secondary offering, while his slider remains a work in progress.

Castro returned to the rotation briefly following his demotion to Triple-A then returned to a bullpen role. It’s now up to the Rockies to determine his long-term role. If he can refine his secondary pitches, he has the potential to be a frontline starter. He also could be a dominant closer.”

Jesus Tinoco

The third and final prospect in the deal is another 20-year old righty, Jesus Tinoco. He’s the rawest pitcher of the group, but he still possesses a power arm and high ceiling that general manager Jeff Bridich seems to covet. Tinoco is enjoying his best year so far as a pro with a 3.30 ERA and 75 strikeouts to just 22 walks in 87 1/3 innings in low-A. MLB Pipeline pegs Tinoco as the Rockies’ 18th best prospect and has this to say about him:

“The 6-foot-4 20-year-old has natural size and arm strength working in his favor. With a loose arm, he can run his fastball up to 94-95 mph. He throws it with a ton of sink, already showing a propensity for groundball outs. He complements his fastball with a slider that shows glimpses of being a quality breaking ball and also has a feel for a changeup. In small increments, Tinoco has shown an ability to make adjustments, and he’s become a little more efficient, in terms of finding the strike zone.”

The Major League team also played some games this week. Here’s how they did.

Record this week: 2-5
Overall record: 44-59 (5th in NL West, 15 GB of LAD)

Monday, July 27 – Colorado Rockies (8) at Chicago Cubs (9)
W – Soriano (1-0)    L – Axford (3-4)
HR: Gonzalez 2 (20), Descalso (3)
Players of the game:
Carlos Gonzalez – 4 for 5, 2 HR, 4 RBI
DJ LeMahieu – 3 for 4, 2B, BB, 2 RBI
Daniel Descalso – 1 for 1, HR, RBI

Tuesday, July 28 – Colorado Rockies (7) at Chicago Cubs (2)
W – Flande (1-1)      L – Beeler (0-1)
Players of the game:
DJ LeMahieu – 3 for 4, 2B, 3B, BB, RBI
Yohan Flande – 5 IP, 4 H, ER, 3 BB, 4 K
Corey Dickerson – 2 for 4, 2B, RBI

Wednesday, July 29 – Colorado Rockies (2) at Chicago Cubs (3)
W – Lester (6-8)      L – Butler (3-7)        S – Rondon (13)
HR: Gonzalez (21)
Players of the game:
Carlos Gonzalez – 1 for 3, HR, BB, RBI
Aaron Laffey – 2 IP, H, 0 R, BB, K
Tommy Kahnle – IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, K

This was a weird series. Obviously, the shock of losing Tulo was still fresh in everyone’s minds and with him gone, the results didn’t seem particularly relevant. Quite frankly, the Major League results for the Rockies aren’t particularly important right now as the club plays out the string 15 games out of first place. A few things of note from this series was that Carlos Gonzalez continued to stay hot as he hit three more home runs and Yohan Flande earned his first Major league win. Congrats, Yohan!

Thursday, July 30 – Colorado Rockies (8) at St. Louis Cardinals (9)
W – Villanueva (4-3)          L – Axford (3-5)
HR: Rusin (1), Hundley (8)
Players of the game:
Nick Hundley – 2 for 5, HR, 2 RBI
DJ LeMahieu – 3 for 4
Charlie Blackmon – 2 for 4, 2B

Friday, July 31 – Colorado Rockies (0) at St. Louis Cardinals (7)
W – Wacha (12-4)    L – Kendrick (4-12)
Players of the game:
Carlos Gonzalez – 1 for 3, 2B, BB
Aaron Laffey – 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 2 K; 1 for 1
Justin Miller – IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 K

Saturday, August 1 – Colorado Rockies (6) at St. Louis Cardinals (2)
W – De La Rosa (7-4)          L –Lynn (8-6)
HR: Arenado (26), Paulsen (8)
Players of the game:
Ben Paulsen – 2 for 5, 2B, HR, 3 RBI
Nolan Arenado – 2 for 5, HR, 2 RBI
Jorge De La Rosa – 6 2/3 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 4 K

Sunday, August 2 – Colorado Rockies (2) at St. Louis Cardinals (3)
W – Rosenthal (2-2)           L – Oberg (2-2)
Players of the game:
Charlie Blackmon – 1 for 3, BB, 2 SB
Nolan Arenado – 1 for 3, BB
Ben Paulsen – 1 for 4, 2B, RBI

This was yet another tough series against a really good team on the road. Naturally, the Rockies only were able to take one out of the four games against the Cardinals. That win came on the arm of Jorge De La Rosa as he increased his franchise-leading win total to 76. The next highest total on the active roster belongs to Rafael Betancourt. He has 15 wins in a Rockies uniform. Nolan Arenado also hit a home run in the series, his 26th of the season. He is on pace to hit 41 homers this season. This was a tough group of games to watch, but before long there should be a steady stream of prospects coming in that will (hopefully) make things a lot more fun for Rockies fans again.

We’ve now reached the point where we appreciate some of the standout performances of the week with the player of the week, pitcher of the week, and longest home run of the week. Remember, you can find the player and pitcher of the week leaderboards as well as the five longest Rockies home runs of the season on the right-hand side of the screen!

Rockies position player of the week: Carlos Gonzalez – 29 PA, .391/.483/.870, 2 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBI

I’m thinking of just re-naming this the Carlos Gonzalez award. He stayed white hot this week and take home player of the week for the third week in a row after now winning it all season up to that point. CarGo’s big week has his wRC+ up to 118 for the season and it’s becoming safer and safer to say that he’s back to being his old self. Monday in Chicago was his best game of the week as he went 4-for-5 with two home runs. Take a look here:

Longest Rockies home run of the week: Ben Paulsen – 440 feet

Paulsen’s 440 foot blast tied him for the fifth longest homer of the season and gets him a spot on our leaderboard. He is also having an under-the-radar solid season, with a 118 wRC+ across 206 plate appearances. You can take a look at his home run here.

Rockies pitcher of the week: Justin Miller – 3 appearances, 4 IP, H, 0 R, 7 K

It has been awfully tough to find deserving pitchers of the week recently, but Miller was more than deserving. He had four dominant innings and has really left a strong impression in his short time with the club. Across 11 innings with the Major League club, Miller has a 0.82 ERA and 10.64 strikeouts per nine innings to go with just 0.82 walks per nine innings. The 28-year old righty has shown a mid-90’s fastball and a strong slider with good command, making you wonder why he hasn’t been a mainstay in Major League bullpens yet. There unfortunately is no video on Miller from this week, but nonetheless he take home the honor for the first time this season.

That’s all for week 17. Next week should be a lot more exciting as we finally get to see the debut of Rockies top prospect Jon Gray! Be sure to subscribe, like View from the Rooftop on Facebook, and follow on Twitter.

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