FLUSHING, NY — Rockies manager Bud Black is a veteran. A manager of the year with the Padres in 2010, he knows the potential talent and has come to appreciate how Major League Baseball has expanded their interest in the development of Latino ballplayers.
The Rockies, projected to finish last in the NL West are in that mode of development, perhaps a step away from proving they belong with the Dodgers and Padres. The Arizona Diamondbacks are in that direction of possibly being a contender and attribute that to an expanded player development system.
This three-game series at Citi Field with the Mets has a rubber game Sunday afternoon after the Rockies 5-2 win Saturday afternoon. Friday evening and again Saturday, Black inserted catcher Elias Díaz and second baseman Harold Castro in the lineup.
And there was a rookie again at shortstop, 21-year old Ezequiel Tovar, who hit a two-run homer down the left field line in the sixth inning, a three-hit game that had the attention of his manager.
🚨 Tovar Tank 🚨 pic.twitter.com/GzxeXyjffJ
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) May 6, 2023
I asked Black about the Venezuela connection here, Castro from Caracas. Díaz and Tovar from the small town of Maracay. Coincidence, or is this development and the Rockies organization pulling their interest more into investing in ballplayers from Latin America?
He said it was more than the Rockies and 29 other clubs that take a similar interest.
“We have Dominican players, Latin American they are a big part of MLB and our guys are wonderful,” Black said. “I love our Latin players. Our guys are good character guys, good teammates. They care about the Rockies and each other.”.
He mentioned how Castro, Díaz, and Tovar interact with their teammates, many of a different culture. There is good chemistry in the clubhouse, listen and as Black said “coachable.”
Tovar, became the youngest Rockie in franchise history to make an Opening Day start. He is the third youngest active player in the Majors joining the Cardinals’ Jordan Walker and the Mets’ Francisco Álvarez.
Friday night, Tovar snapped a career high seven-game hitting streak. Saturday, 3-for-4, 2 RBI, 2 runs scored, now with two home runs in his last five games after not homering in his first 27 games of the season.
Though Tovar, a top prospect, is known more for his defense and range in the infield. The patience and approach at the plate has led to a beginning month of May (6-for-17, .353) with two home runs and five RBI, all of this has caught the eye of Bud Black.
“The at-bats are progressively getting better,” Black said. “Cut down the chase, cut down the strikeouts. But, love the opposite field, double, love the homer, and love the defense. There’s self assurance to his game and who he is, and that’s a really good thing for a young player.”
The sixth inning home run off Mets reliever Stephen Nogosek gave the Rockies a 5-2 lead and eventual win, that new 2-1 sweeper of a slider that went down the line and third of his career.
Díaz, with two RBI singles, increased his batting average to .452 with runners in scoring position, .342 overall with 18 RBI. The Rockies won for the fifth time in their last six games.
Tovar, though, was instrumental in this win He got the decisive runs and the Mets with an anemic offense were not able to show any signs of getting out of their funk, now losing six of their last eight.
“First of all we got the win today,” Tovar said through an interrupter. “Everyone did their part today. Honestly, first time I hit a ball like that, kind of different for me. thought it had a chance,” he said about the home run.
Commenting about Díaz and Castro, he said “No doubt those guys are tremendous players. Overall we have good team chemistry through the lineup and I am grateful for that.”
They got Tovar for his glove and that is supposed to be his strength.
“You want to be an all -around player, defensively also offensively,” he said. “Treat both as equal, that’s for sure.I want to show my defensive skills and work hard at it, that’s what I need to do.”
The Rockies look to take this series and feel there is that winning presence. They got Díaz and Castro, the veteran Charlie Blackmon and a rookie from Venezuela.
Player development is important. So is that patience as the Rockies want to continue and make a statement
Rich Mancuso Co-Editor and Senior Writer LatinoSports.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso.
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