MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Rockies' farm cracks MLB Pipeline's Top 10

Colorado's strong system lands at No. 8 spot in baseball's farm rankings

Rockies' farm cracks MLB Pipeline's Top 10

In their 24 seasons, the Rockies never have had a rookie class as strong as their 2016 group. Trevor Story set home run records beginning on Opening Day, Jon Gray looked like the frontline starter Colorado hoped for when it drafted him third overall in 2013 and David Dahl tied a big league record by hitting safely in his first 17 games. Tyler Anderson, Carlos Estevez and Tony Wolters also graduated to Coors Field.

There's plenty more talent where that came from. Even without those players, the Rockies still have one of the best farm systems in baseball, checking in at No. 8 in MLBPipeline.com's annual rankings. They have good balance, with depth in both position players and pitchers and quality prospects spread throughout all four of their full-season clubs.

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Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arenado, Blackmon, LeMahieu get RBIs vs. Dodgers

Arenado, Blackmon, LeMahieu get RBIs vs. Dodgers

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Andre Ethier hit one of three Dodgers home runs and Julio Urias made it through his first spring appearance in a 14-3 win over the Rockies on Tuesday.

Ethier, who broke his right leg on a foul tip the last time he played at Salt River Fields last March, hit a solo shot to the right-field berm to lead off the fifth inning. It was his first homer of the spring.

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Chris Gabel is a contributor to MLB.com.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rookies bring live steer to Rockies camp

Trio was assigned to give presentation on history of club's owners

Rookies bring live steer to Rockies camp

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It started as a presentation assignment and ended with Gerardo Parra on top of a 1,600-pound steer.

Rockies rookies Kyle Freeland, Ryan Castellani and Yency Almonte were assigned to give a presentation on some of the history of team owners Charlie and Dick Monfort, whose father built a meatpacking and distribution company in Greeley, Colo.

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Chris Gabel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Phoenix native Castellani enjoys Cactus play

Right-hander throws two solid innings against Dodgers on Tuesday

Phoenix native Castellani enjoys Cactus play

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Ryan Castellani grew up attending Cactus League games, many at Salt River Fields, because "it was the newest and best" stadium. On Tuesday, the Rockies right-hander made his spring debut there.

"I'm looking forward to pitching in the stadium against hopefully a big league lineup," Castellani said hours before a 14-3 loss to the Dodgers. "I grew up coming to these games, sitting on the berm. I'd come for my birthday sometimes. "I remember looking up to all these guys and seeing the superstars of the game. I would see what I could pick up."

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Chris Gabel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dahl sidelined for few days by back soreness

Young outfielder is competing with Parra for starting job in left field

Dahl sidelined for few days by back soreness

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies outfielder David Dahl will be sidelined for the next few days with back soreness, manager Bud Black said on Tuesday.

Dahl, who is competing with Gerardo Parra for the starting job in left field, was scratched from the lineup on Monday and declined to talk with reporters on Tuesday morning.

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Chris Gabel is a contributor to MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Map project teaches Farris about new Rockies teammates

Map project teaches Farris about new Rockies teammates

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Get to know your teammates. Rockies relief pitching prospect James Farris had that lesson driven home in a unique way this Spring Training.

On easels in the hallway outside the Rockies' clubhouse rest two large maps -- one featuring the United States and Mexico, the other with Latin America and Taiwan. The maps are decorated with multi-colored thumbtacks and strings that connect a player's name, high school and high school nickname with the corresponding spot on the map. Manager Bud Black, the coaching staff and many Rockies staff members also show up.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Wolters, Patterson HR in Gray's strong debut

Wolters, Patterson HR in Gray's strong debut

PHOENIX -- Rockies catcher Tony Wolters hit a three-run homer and starter Jon Gray struck out two over two scoreless innings to lead Colorado to a 7-1 victory over the Dodgers on Monday at Camelback Ranch.

The Rockies did not waste any time getting on the board. Second baseman Alexi Amarista walked on four pitches to start the game, and after a double play, first baseman Jordan Patterson followed with a homer to center field to put Colorado up, 1-0.

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Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gray builds confidence from first spring start

Potential ace overcomes two hits, hit batter to toss two scoreless frames

Gray builds confidence from first spring start

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- For potential Rockies ace Jon Gray, his first inning was akin to choking down bitter medicine. Seeing the first two hitters of the spring reach on a hit and a hit batsman on Monday against the Dodgers wasn't good, but he figured it was good for him.

"At first I thought it was a bad thing," Gray said. "But I was thinking, 'This is good for me. I'm here to make pitches, anyway. Why not bring it to the next level?"

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Accelerated prep could be new norm for McGee

Rockies reliever ramped up training to get ready for Classic

Accelerated prep could be new norm for McGee

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Starting early sits quite well with Rockies left-handed reliever Jake McGee.

Playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic is but one of the reasons McGee, who pitched a scoreless inning in his Spring Training debut Monday against the Dodgers, is much closer than usual to regular-season speed. After battling left knee inflammation all last season on the heels of meniscus surgery late in 2015 while with the Rays, McGee began training earlier and more intensely.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

In relief, Hoffman shows offseason improvement

Righty prospect allows unearned run, strikes out two in spring debut

In relief, Hoffman shows offseason improvement

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Jeff Hoffman's performance Monday suggested he is a quick study.

Hoffman, who debuted late last season and is competing for a rotation spot, threw a solid 1 2/3 innings with two strikeouts and three hits in the Rockies' 7-1 victory over the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arenado to realize dream of representing Team USA

Colorado slugger turned childhood disappointment into motivation to don his country's colors

Arenado to realize dream of representing Team USA

This time, Team USA called Nolan Arenado's name.

Being selected to represent the United States in the World Baseball Classic allows Arenado, the Colorado Rockies' star third baseman, to finally realize a dream that was sparked when he was 13. Then a budding shortstop from Southern California, he enjoyed what he thought was a strong performance in a Junior Olympics tournament in Arizona. Afterward, organizers would choose an all-tournament team that carried with it an invitation to represent the U.S. in an international competition.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Blackmon, Arenado HRs lead Rox vs. D-backs

Rusin allows hit in 2 innings; Arizona's Shipley gives up 3 runs in 1 2/3

Blackmon, Arenado HRs lead Rox vs. D-backs

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado hit solo homers as the Rockies defeated the D-backs, 6-1, on Sunday in Cactus League play.

Blackmon's leadoff homer, off D-backs starter Braden Shipley, was familiar -- he had 10 leadoff homers last season and has 22 in his career. Arenado homered in the third off Tyler Jones.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Valaika homers as Rockies fall to White Sox

Valaika homers as Rockies fall to White Sox

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The White Sox claimed a 7-3 victory over the Rockies on Sunday at Camelback Ranch in a game featuring key moments from players competing for roster spots on their respective teams.

German Marquez started for the Rockies and pitched two scoreless innings while allowing two hits. The No. 73 prospect in MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 is competing for a spot in Colorado's rotation. Pat Valaika, fighting for a utility spot, homered off White Sox starter Jose Quintana in the second.

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Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Top prospect Rodgers gets spring game action

Rusin, being considered for Rockies rotation, throws two scoreless innings

Top prospect Rodgers gets spring game action

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Rockies created a buzz among those who follow prospects when they put shortstop Brendan Rodgers, the third overall pick in the 2015 Draft, on the lineup card in the sixth inning of Sunday's game against the White Sox at Glendale, Ariz.

The shock didn't bother him too badly. Rodgers doubled and scored during a 7-3 loss to the White Sox.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Busy McMahon eager for more with Rockies

Busy McMahon eager for more with Rockies

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies corner infield prospect Ryan McMahon was admittedly tired in November. But he wasn't burned out in the least.

McMahon played a full season at Double-A Hartford, which didn't have a home stadium and therefore spent the season on the road, then played in the Arizona Fall League. Then he rested. Briefly.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

CarGo believes Classic will jump-start season

More spring at-bats have led to better early production for Rockies star

CarGo believes Classic will jump-start season

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right fielder Carlos Gonzalez believes representing Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic could lead to a good start to the regular season.

The last time Gonzalez played in the Classic, which was in 2013, he hit .306 with a .389 on-base percentage and a .551 slugging percentage in 25 April games. He kept that going in May, posting a .308/.385/.607 line in 28 games.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Desmond makes big debut in Rockies' win

Desmond makes big debut in Rockies' win

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Ian Desmond made his Rockies debut Saturday and went 3-for-3 with an RBI as Colorado beat Arizona, 8-4, in the Cactus League opener for both teams at Salt River Fields.

Desmond, who was signed by the Rockies in December to a five-year, $70 million free-agent deal, played first base, a new position for him.

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Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

All spots in Rockies' batting order 'dangerous'

All spots in Rockies' batting order 'dangerous'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- No matter where he hits in the order, Rockies shortstop Trevor Story showed Saturday he can make the ball fly. His teammates showed that the batting order doesn't matter, either.

Hitting in the seventh spot against the D-backs in the Cactus League opener, Story launched Archie Bradley's first pitch of the fourth inning over the center-field wall during the 8-4 victory over the D-backs at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. And eight of the Rockies' starting players reached base at least once -- seven with hits -- before substitutes finished the contest.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Holland cautious while building game strength

Holland cautious while building game strength

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- While a nice crowd watched -- and wished -- during the Rockies' 8-4 Cactus League-opening victory over the D-backs on Saturday, new closer Greg Holland was on a practice field, quietly working toward making purple dreams come true.

Holland was signed to a one-year contract that guarantees him $7 million with heavy incentives and a vesting option for next season that could pay him at least $10 million and as much as $15 million in base salary. But he's also coming off Tommy John surgery that cost him all of the 2016 season. So his progress happens with care.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Tapia staying ready no matter where he lands

Tapia staying ready no matter where he lands

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies outfield prospect Raimel Tapia's job this spring is to prove he is ready, even if he's not needed.

Tapia, 23, who is the No. 90 prospect and one of five Rockies on the MLB.com Top 100 Prospects, batted a combined .328 with a .361 on-base percentage at Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque last season. The performance earned him a 22-game look-see in the Majors during which he hit .263 with a .293 OBP in 41 plate appearances.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Diaz on mend from surgery, faces batters

Diaz on mend from surgery, faces batters

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Reliever Jairo Diaz, whose right elbow injury last March was one of many reasons the Rockies' bullpen struggled last season, took a small but significant step Friday by facing hitters at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

Diaz, 25, who possesses a fastball that averaged 97.3 mph while going 0-1 with a 2.55 ERA in 26 combined games with the Angels (2014) and Rockies (2015), said he should be ready for a Minor League rehab assignment by May. When ready, Diaz could add power to a bullpen that looks to improve from last season, when its 5.13 ERA was the highest in the Major Leagues.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arenado gets peek of Cuba

Rockies' third baseman vows to use status to serve in homeland

Arenado gets peek of Cuba

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado spent Thanksgiving losing himself -- as much as possible for a baseball star -- in his family's homeland of Cuba. He returned to the United States thankful.

Arenado's grandfather, Gerardo, was a political prisoner in Fidel Castro's Cuba. Arenado's father Fernando, his twin brother and 12-year-old cousin were allowed to come to the United States. Gerardo left Cuba and went to Spain, before later receiving a visa to come to America.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Reynolds confident in return to Rockies

Reynolds confident in return to Rockies

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After compiling the highest batting average and on-base percentage of his career last season with the Rockies, Mark Reynolds waited for guaranteed Major League offers that didn't come. But he wasn't disappointed enough to leave the continent.

Reynolds, 33, turned down a $3 million offer to play in Korea and re-signed with the Rockies on a Minor League contract. He stands to make $1.5 million if he makes the Major League club, and an additional $2.5 million is available via performance bonuses.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Journeyman Cardullo eyes 1st Opening Day job

29-year-old rookie, who made MLB debut in '16, hoping to break camp with Rox

Journeyman Cardullo eyes 1st Opening Day job

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Cast aside by the Arizona Diamondbacks organization in 2012, Stephen Cardullo spent four years in the place where many baseball dreams have gone to die.

Independent baseball.

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Logan Newman is a senior majoring in journalism at Arizona State University. This story is part of a Cactus League partnership between MLB.com and ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Story wants to pen tale on defense

Story wants to pen tale on defense

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Any discussion of Rockies shortstop Trevor Story begins with home runs and segues to the bat after he hit 27 home runs as a rookie in 2016. But Story would like his glove to be in the conversation.

"I'm really prideful of my defense, probably more than offense," Story said. "It's huge, especially at shortstop. You've got to have a good defender there. I don't really just want to be good. I want to be one of the great shortstops."

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rusin's versatility a plus for Rockies

Rusin's versatility a plus for Rockies

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Discussions of the potential Rockies' starting rotation often end with, 'By the way, there's Chris Rusin. Bullpen projections also shoehorn him in the same way.

The point, however, is not that the left-handed Rusin is not appreciated. It's that he's available for whatever the Rockies need.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bettis gets clean bill of health

Bettis gets clean bill of health

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis loves operating on the outskirts early in Spring Training. But his health report was in the spotlight for good reason Wednesday.

Bettis has periodic checkups since undergoing surgery for testicular cancer in late November. He had blood work done Tuesday, and Wednesday received good news.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rockies ready to compete with big spenders

Rockies ready to compete with big spenders

PHOENIX -- Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich hopes to follow the steps of the 2014 and '15 Royals and the '16 Indians as mid-market teams that reached the World Series.

Bridich, speaking Tuesday at Cactus League Media Day, didn't see the point in pronouncing the Rockies contenders after six straight sub-.500 seasons.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dahl, Parra battling for starting job in LF

22-year-old Dahl replaced injured Parra at position last season

Dahl, Parra battling for starting job in LF

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies outfielder David Dahl wants the triumphs of last year to give him confidence heading into this season. Gerardo Parra would like to forget 2016 as quickly as possible.

Each arrived at Spring Training 2017 trying to prove he is worthy of the Rockies' regular left-field job.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Amarista's versatility could be helpful to Rox

27-year-old has experience playing for new manager Black

Amarista's versatility could be helpful to Rox

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- By joining the Rockies, left-handed-hitting Alexi Amarista can continue doing a little bit of everything for manager Bud Black.

Amarista, 27, broke in with the Angels in 2011 but truly gained footing in 2012 after joining the Padres, then managed by Black, who was there through the first 65 games of 2015. With the Padres, Amarista played every position except first base and catcher, even ending up on the mound twice (although the first wasn't until June 17, 2015, the game after Black's departure).

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.