What we learned from the weekend’s action at Coors Field
When the Colorado Rockies took the field at Coor’s Field on Saturday, the team didn’t even have a practice game planned.
Instead, the only thing that was planned for the first day of spring training was a mini-camp for minor league pitchers.
On the first morning of spring ball, the Rockies’ training camp staff took a few of the team’s pitchers out for a little walk.
They left after two hours, and the next day, they were back in the gym.
The day before that, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported the Rockies had invited several top prospects to visit Colorado Springs to work out for them.
The Rockies are one of the more-established baseball teams in the United States, having been around for decades and having spent much of their history on the national scene.
They have also been able to attract major league players with their strong pitching staff.
But that has not been the case for their minor league system, which has struggled to find any major league talent and has struggled in the past.
The team’s new minor league organization will be led by pitching coach Scott A. Eppler and his pitching guru, Tom Vilsack.
Eppler was the head coach of the Colorado Padres from 2009 to 2014, when he was named the manager of the New York Yankees minor league affiliate, the Triple-A New York Mets.
Eppinger is expected to take over the Colorado pitching staff for a third time.
He is currently the pitching coach for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, where he spent two seasons in 2012 and 2013, after the franchise was acquired by the Los Angels in a deal with the Boston Red Sox.
He is also the pitching coordinator for the Kansas City Royals minor league affiliates.
A native of Colorado Springs, Colorado, Eppeler played in the professional baseball circuit for 10 years with the Washington Nationals and the Colorado Rapids of the International League, but he made his major league debut in 2014 and has since worked as a pitching coach with the Colorado Avalanche, the San Diego Padres and the St. Louis Cardinals.
Vilsack spent last season as the pitching instructor for the Arizona Diamondbacks, where his team won a pair of NL wild-card games.
He also worked as pitching coach in Arizona’s minor league systems before joining the Angels in 2012.
A former outfielder with the Oakland Athletics, Vilsak spent the 2015 season with the Seattle Mariners and was a major league pitching coach.
The Mariners had a successful offseason and were rewarded with left-handed reliever Michael Wacha, who was the starting right-hander in Arizona for the 2016 season.
Volsack is the second coach of Colorado’s minor leagues after A.J. Peralta, who served as the team pitching coach from 2017 to 2018.
The only other major league staff member of the Rockies minor league staff is A.P. Adcock, the bullpen coach who served from 2008 to 2010.
In his three seasons as pitching instructor, Adcock has worked with five different pitchers, including starting pitchers and relievers.
He was promoted to the staff in June 2018.
A major league roster is a long way off, but there are signs that the Rockies may be preparing for the prospect of one.
Colorado Springs will have at least three new minor leaguers this spring, but they will be expected to make their mark with the first pitch.
The Colorado Springs staff is made up of the pitching staff, the minor league pitching staff and the coaching staff, which includes A.B. Hinch, a pitcher who has spent his entire minor league career with the San Francisco Giants.
Hinch pitched in four major league seasons, most recently in 2017.
In three seasons in the majors, Hinch is 6-2 with a 2.94 ERA, and in seven minor league seasons he has a 2-1 record, with three wins.
In 2016, the former first-round pick went 6-5 with a 3.07 ERA in 11 starts for the San Antonio Missions of the Pacific Coast League.
In 2017, the veteran right-handed pitcher went 7-2, with a 1.86 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 19 innings with the Atlanta Braves of the NL Central.
In 2018, the 26-year-old left-hander went 5-4 with a 4.06 ERA in seven starts with Triple- A Salt Lake City, after spending time with the Los Padres of the Texas League in 2018 and 2019.
In 2019, Hitter spent the first half of the season with Triple A Omaha, where the right-handers ERA was a whopping 3.23.
In 2017, he went 8-4, with 5.36 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 26.1 innings for Omaha.
In 2020, Hatter spent the entire season with Double-A Fresno, after being promoted to Omaha from San Diego in 2019.
He went 5 and 0 in his first two starts, before allowing seven runs in his final three innings.
In 2021, Hater went 3-3 with a 5.30