|DJ LeMahieu has been a bright spot in 2013 for the Rockies.|
The 2013 season is lost for the Rockies, which shouldn't have been a huge surprise, but still disappointing. However, in the midst of another bad season, a few positives have emerged from the fire.
DJ LeMahieu, not even on the Opening Day roster, and a throw-in from the Cubs in the Ian Stewart trade, has played his way into the no-doubt starting second baseman for the Rockies heading into the 2014 season. His defense has been incredible at second base. He is constantly ranging to his left better than most second baseman. He has made leaping catches and always seems to be in the right spot.
Most importantly for a second baseman, his double play ability has been as quick as anyone can ask for. He transitions the ball well and makes a quick turn. His defense lacks nothing that would be desired of a Major League second baseman.
LeMahieu has impressed with his glove, but that is an afterthought compared to what he has started to accomplish at the plate. On Friday night, LeMahieu went 2-for-5, driving his batting average up to .288 and increasing his hitting streak to 13 games. The Louisiana State product has been impressive not because of his ability to hit for power, or how hard he hits the ball. What has been impressive is his confidence at the plate, which has resulted in him hitting balls to the opposite field.
The game seems to have slowed down for LeMahieu. He doesn't have the deer in the headlights look at the plate. He is hitting with a confidence that he believes he belongs in the big leagues. Hitting the ball the other way is generally a sign that a guy sees the ball out of the pitcher's hand and isn't getting too jumpy at the plate. He is able to let the ball get deep and go the other way. In his 13-game streak, LeMahieu has gone 19-for-50, a robust .388 average.
While LeMahieu might be the most impressive young player, both Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson have been impressive in their own right. Dickerson increased his batting average to .300 with a 3-for-5 night, including a double down the right field line that bounced three feet in front of the plate before Dickerson made contact with it.
Dickerson possesses the speed and the contact ability to hit at the top of the lineup. He may not be an everyday starter, especially with who the Rockies have in their outfield when everyone is healthy, but he has shown the ability to get the job done and is a good extra outfielder.
The knock on Dickerson before he came up to the big leagues was that he defense was terrible. So far he hasn't done anything overly impressive in the field, and his arm is nothing to be thrilled about, but he also hasn't done anything egregious that would make him seem like a liability. His athleticism would suggest that he can get better in the field and at least be serviceable.
Charlie Blackmon, getting time in center field because of Dexter Fowler's nagging knee injury, is also making the most of his time. He went 2-for-4 with a triple that was about a foot short of being a three-run homer. The triple broke the game open for the Rockies.
Blackmon is 27-years-old, which basically disqualifies him from being a true prospect, has shown that he can be a contributor as well.
No one is saying that any one of the three young players who were mentioned are the next Carlos Gonzalez or Troy Tulowitzki. However, they don't have to be. The Rockies have plenty of room for contributors. Having a couple of capable outfielders waiting on the bench in case one of the starters gets hurt or needs a day off is important. If they can make the transition smoother, there is no problem with that.
The Rockies are having September tryouts for the 2014 squad and they are getting good looks at some of their younger or less experienced guys. The good news for the Rockies is that they are getting mostly positives from the guys who they are evaluating. There is nothing that should be too alarming from what has been shown by the guys who started the season in Colorado Springs.
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