5 Reasons to Keep Watching the Colorado Rockies with an Eye on 2014
As the Rockies enter the final month of the 2013 regular season positioned 17 games back in the NL West, the fans in Denver are running out of things to cheer about.
The organization’s unfulfilled playoff aspirations were disregarded during last night’s stadium-wide standing ovation for Todd Helton, a high point in a series of lows for Rockies fans.
It was a great moment for the franchise’s beloved veteran, but it’s difficult to overlook another disappointing season.
While the playoffs remain out of reach, there are still plenty of reasons to continue watching the Rockies.
The upper office spent a good portion of this season receiving and rejecting offers for Michael Cuddyer.
At 34-years-old, Cuddyer’s production in Denver has greatly exceeded initial expectations. He’s managed to stay relatively healthy, has been a leader in the clubhouse and has brought fans to the ballpark.
The Rockies veteran outfielder is entering the final year of his three-year/$30 million contract and trade rumors are inevitable this offseason.
In the meantime, Cuddyer’s consistent and continued production into September gives fans a reason to watch. Helton’s 2,500 hit overshadowed Cuddyer’s four hit, three RBI night that ended up giving the Rockies the edge.
Cuddyer is batting .328 on the season with 18 homers and 71 RBI. He could merit serious trade value if this stellar production continues.
Growth of Bettis, Dickerson and Culberson
Chad Bettis, Corey Dickerson and Charlie Culberson serve as some of the most promising talent in the organization. All three players have high ceilings and have been given substantial opportunities to succeed at the major league level.
Over the next month, each of these players will be given an ample amount of playing time due to roster expansion and the injury to Carlos Gonzalez.
Bettis will likely keep his place in the rotation for the remainder of the season, barring a serious setback. He’s looked impressive in three out of his six starts this season.
He currently hold a 4.80 ERA in 30 IP with a high walk to strikeout ratio. September will give the 24-year-old right-hander a chance at earning a spot in next year’s rotation.
Corey Dickerson is by far the most exciting piece to this collection of young talent. So far, he’s providing the Rockies with consistent production offensively and defensively.
If he continues down the road to success this month, it will undoubtedly increase the chances of Cuddyer being moved this offseason.
Dickerson is currently batting .289 with three homers and 10 RBI in 46 games this season.
Culberson has yet to pan out at the plate, hitting just .226 in 55 at bats.
Walt Weiss will likely continue to use Culberson off the bench.
Josh Rutledge’s Second Wind
After a promising season last year, Josh Rutledge came out of the gate struggling in 2013.
The 24-year-old second baseman has spent this season bouncing between Colorado Springs and Denver, unable to consistently string together some good at bats.
The Rockies recalled Rutledge yesterday in hopes of providing even more depth at second base, according to the Associated Press.
While there’s little chance Rutledge will get enough playing time to have the opportunity of relieving DJ LeMahieu at second, a red hot start could force a competition.
Rutledge has been tearing up Triple-A, batting .371 with four homers and 24 RBI in 38 games. He’s batting .500 over his last 10 games.
There’s a chance Rutledge’s strong offensive production could carry over into the majors.
Prospects on the Horizon
The Rockies second half struggles have given prospects the opportunity to show their stuff. There is still a handful of impressive young talent brewing in the farm system that could merit promotion.
All statistics courtesy of MiLB.com.
In the 2010 MLB Draft, the Rockies acquired Christian Bergman in round 24 from UC-Irvine. Since then, he’s improved significantly in each of his four minor league seasons.
This year, Bergman has pitched more innings than any pitcher in the entire Rockies organization. In those 171 innings for Tulsa, he’s posted a 3.37 ERA with 111 strikeouts and a 1.08 WHIP. He’s walked just 23 batters all season.
Bergman has earned the right to display his stuff with a late season call-up.
Bergman’s teammate Kyle Parker is one of the more likely candidates for a late season call-up.
Take a trip about 700 miles to Colorado Springs and you’ll find another player more than deserving of getting recalled this month.
Ben Paulsen, 25, is hitting .294 with 18 homers and 79 RBI, numbers that certainly place him at the top of the list for a potential promotion.
Tim Wheeler is a name that’s been floating around the Rockies farm system for quite some time. A first-round draft pick in 2009, Wheeler has put up some huge numbers over his five years in the Rockies system.
However, this season he’s batting just .262 with five homers and 42 RBI for Colorado Springs.
Despite his struggles, Wheeler is another likely call-up later this month.
As the 2013 season winds down, fans across the country are either gearing up for the post season, enjoying their team’s last couple of games, or getting ready for the NFL.
For the Rockies, a probable impending announcement looms over this organization that has fans tuning in. That announcement being the potential retirement of the franchise’s long-time and record breaking first baseman Todd Helton.
Helton holds the Rockies franchise records for hits, RBI, home runs, doubles, walks and a slew of other offensive categories. He’s a five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger Award-winner and a three-time Gold Glove recipient.
While Helton is keeping quiet about his postseason plans, there’s a good chance this could be his swansong month.
If that’s the case, Rockies fans are witnessing history. They’re witnessing the final games of a legend who’s sure to be the first player to have his number retired at Coors Field, as well as the first Rockie to be elected to the Hall of Fame (in my opinion).
This, and this reason alone, is enough to keep watching the Rockies finish out the season.
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