Maybe it has been the unseasonably warm February that has befallen Denver, but it feels like baseball’s back. Spring Training has started and the Colorado Rockies are coming together to kick off the 2014 season. With Todd Helton gone and a plethora of transactions, many are wondering who to look for to lead the Rockies this season. Some names are obvious, but some may surprise you; so here’s five Rockies to watch out for in 2014:
- Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki: As always these are the horses that will be responsible for any Rockies success this season. With a combined projected .303 batting average, 172 runs, 56 home runs, and 177 RBI it is expected that Cargo and Tulo will carry the Rox offensively. The biggest question surrounding these two superstars is their health and if they’ll be able to play in over 140 games.
- Nolan Arenado: The Colorado Rockies are anticipating Arenado to start at third and will be the biggest surprise out of Denver this year. Having groomed his approach at the plate, Arenado no longer needs fastball to be a successful hitter. Though his effort can sometimes be questioned, no one can question his ability. Defensively, he’s got a cannon and is very rangy. Though he’s projected to hit .283/15/75 this season, don’t be surprised to see Arenado put up a line that includes 80 runs scored, 80 RBI, and 20 stolen bases.
- Charlie Blackmon: Opportunities reveal a lot about a player, and we’re going to find out just how good Charlie Blackmon is this season. Having been bumped up and down the rosters the past few season, Blackmon’s first real shot at winning a full-time slot on the Rox roster is now. He’s long been viewed as the prize of the Rockies farm system, and the time to see what he brings to Colorado is now. Although his role will likely be a “fourth” outfielder, many would not be surprised to see Blackmon in the Rockies outfield more often than not. It’ll all come down to Blackmon’s approach at the plate. With power for days, has Blackmon’s approach matured enough to make him a consistent threat to big-league pitching? I say yes.
- Michael Cuddyer: Many think Cuddy’s career-high 2013 season was a microcosm of the unpredictability of baseball, but this journeyman’s got more up his sleeve. Staring down the end of his career, Cuddyer’s maturity and leadership are underplayed and undervalued by many, but play a key role on the club. Will he push for a batting title again in 2014, I don’t think so. After last season, it’ll be a feat to match that production. Regardless, Cuddy will still go .299/20/80.
- Wilin Rosario: The man behind the plate was forgotten in 2013. Never mind that Rosario hit .292 with 21 homers. He’s the foundation of a revamped pitching staff, and will be the surprising pop in the Rox batting lineup. Rosario’s youth will show from time to time in his approach at the plate, but expect him to tally doubles in the spacious confines of Coors Field. Rosario’s 2014 campaign will be his breakout season. Watch for him to go .305/30/95.