Carlos Gonzalez? Nolan Arenado? Sure, as a San Francisco Giants fan you know they’re the heart of the Colorado Rockies batting order, mile-high mainstays who make a habit out of multi-homer games. But there are 23 other players on the Rockies squad for any given game.
Many are familiar names, but some are new to the roster—and thus new to the National League West rivalry. Here’s a look at Colorado’s key offseason additions, emerging stars and prospects who could cause problems for the Giants in 2016.
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Giants fans should remember Gerardo Parra from his days as a rifle-armed right fielder in Arizona. He has always been a solid hitter, and a move to Colorado, where he replaced Corey Dickerson, can only bump up his stats.
Away from Colorado, first baseman Ben Paulsen is no more than James Loney. In Colorado, he’s Brandon Belt—the idealized version. Paulsen played extensively last year, and was decent. But he is a strong candidate to improve on his rookie season and become a formidable bat in the middle of the lineup. As a lefty, Paulsen will likely make up the strong side of a first-base platoon with Mark Reynolds, the former Diamonback know for hitting moon shots (and for striking 200-plus times in three straight seasons). Reynolds isn’t the same power threat he was when he smacked 44 home runs for Arizona in 2009, but he can still put a charge in the ball—which is always dangerous in Denver’s thin air.
With Jose Reyes suspended to start the season, a void at shortstop must be filled. Prospect Trevor Story is making a strong case this spring to do that—and to possibly make Reyes expendable. Story totaled 70 extra-base hits and 22 stolen bases between Double-A and Triple-A last year.
The biggest improvement to the pitching staff this offseason came at the back end of the bullpen, where Jake McGee is pegged to close, with Jason Motte serving as his setup man. Motte has not been the same since his dominant 2012 season as St. Louis’ closer, mainly due to the elbow injury in 2013 that led to Tommy John surgery. But if, three years removed from that injury, he regains his form, he and McGee could make late-inning comebacks difficult for the Giants. McGee carries impressive careers numbers, including a 2.77 ERA and 11.57 K/9.
Expecting a starting pitcher to thrive in Colorado’s altitude is a lot to ask, but the Rockies will be hoping for some of their young arms to emerge this year, including Jon Gray, whom they selected second overall in the 2013 MLB Draft, and Jeff Hoffman and Miguel Castro, both of whom came over from Toronto in the Troy Tulowitzki trade.