DENVER -- Rockies prospect Jordan Pacheco was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs 12 days ago to give him more consistent playing time at third base as he makes the transition from catcher to infielder. He's spent the last 11 days making a powerful case for his return.
Pacheco figures prominently in the Rockies' long-range plans, but while sharing time at third with Chris Nelson and Jonathan Herrera, the club worried that he wasn't getting enough experience to develop into an effective third baseman. Since going to Colorado Springs, he has exploded at the plate and made great strides in his comfort level at third.
"It's not been a matter of catching the ball," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "It's a matter of standing in a position that he had not played a whole lot of over the course of the last few years and thinking about, 'What am I going to do with this ball if it's hit to me in this situation,' and then reacting to how did the ball come off the bat, where is the traffic out on the bases. That's where he struggled."
In 10 games with Colorado Springs, Pacheco is hitting .450 (18-for-40) with a double, two homers, and 4 RBIs.
"He is hitting the [heck] out of it," Tracy said. "If he continues to push the envelope like he's doing, we'll get into a position where he's forcing the ball over into our court and forcing us to make a decision."
Pacheco's bat has opened the Rockies' eyes over the past two years, and he made the Opening Day roster on the strength of his .339 (20-for-59) Cactus League performance. He came to Spring Training competing for the backup catcher's job, but with the ahead-of-schedule emergence of Wilin Rosario and the disappointing spring of third baseman Casey Blake, the Rockies began focusing on his skills in the infield.
"He's starting to feel much more comfortable playing the position," Tracy said. "I get it. That's the message I wanted to hear. When you've been catching the last three years, now you have to brush the cobwebs off this other stuff after having been drafted as an infielder and expose it to him more often."