But with the team still in what looks like a multiyear transition period, here are subjects to watch as camp begins Thursday at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Ariz.
1. Are they (close to) ready?
Three of the Rockies' four prospects on the MLB Pipeline Top 100 list will be in Major League camp. None of them -- No. 28 Adael Amador, a switch-hitting shortstop; No. 72 Yanquiel Fernandez, a left-handed-hitting corner outfielder; and No. 81 Jordan Beck, a right-handed-hitting corner outfielder -- have taken as much as a swing in Triple-A. Neither have four more of the Top 10 Prospects in the organizational rankings who are in camp -- No. 5 Zac Veen, a lefty-hitting outfielder; No. 6 Sterlin Thompson, a lefty-hitting infielder/outfielder; No. 8 Benny Montgomery, a righty-hitting center fielder; and No. 10 Warming Bernabel, a righty-hitting third baseman.
Four games at Albuquerque by switch-hitting catcher and No. 9 prospect Drew Romo represent the sum total of Triple-A games played by the Rockies’ Top 10 Prospects.
Two key left-handed starting pitchers will receive a look. Joe Rock, No. 16, has appeared in one Triple-A game. Carson Palmquist, No. 21, spent last year at High-A Spokane and Double-A Hartford. The next pitch No. 30 prospect Jaden Hill -- a righty being converted to relief -- throws in Double-A will be his first.
But as manager Bud Black says annually, anyone in Major League camp is on the radar.
It’s doubtful any of them will break with the big club. But as the Rockies showed with Doyle, infielder/outfielder Hunter Goodman and multiple relief pitchers, they are willing to break in new players. Last year, they were loaded with vets at the start of the year -- Pierce Johnson, Brad Hand, C.J. Cron, Randal Grichuk, Mike Moustakas. But when the younger players were deemed ready to either debut or take a bigger bite of playing time, Colorado dealt all the vets.
So in the likely event that you see them optioned or moved to Minor League camp, the key is to examine the areas to improve to give themselves a chance against Major League competition. In the cases of Jones and Doyle, their swings were deemed not quick enough for the Major League fastball. Each went to Albuquerque and emerged not finished products, but competitive players.
In the immediate, however, two Rockies Top 30 Prospects saw Major League time last year and can either prove they are ready or learn what it takes. Goodman, No. 12, made 23 appearances after slugging 70 Minor League homers the past two years. Righty reliever Victor Vodnik, No. 25, came in a trade with the Braves, rose from Double-A to the Majors and showed a power pitch mix in six Major League games.