Coors Field has become somewhat less of a hitter’s paradise since the Rockies began storing baseballs in a humidor and Dave Krieger of the Denver Post reports that they hope to deflate the ridiculous offensive numbers being posted at Triple-A by doing the same in Colorado Springs.
In general the Pacific Coast League is very hitter-friendly, but Colorado Springs takes that to an extreme. Security Service Field is 6,531 feet above sea level, which is the highest elevation of any ballpark in professional baseball, and this season the pitching staff there had a combined 6.41 ERA.
It’s nearly impossible to develop pitching prospects in that environment and even getting an accurate sense of hitting prospects’ abilities is difficult. Former first-round pick Greg Reynolds, who spent most of the season at Triple-A, told Krieger that “the ball doesn’t really do what it’s supposed to do there” and “without even knowing it, you’re trying to do something a little different just to make the ball do what it’s supposed to do.”
In some sense there’s an advantage to be gained in preparing Triple-A prospects to play in the majors’ most hitter-friendly ballpark, but Colorado Springs is still going to be very hitter-friendly with a humidor or not and deflating the numbers a bit should help the pitchers focus more on development rather than simply not getting their brains bashed in.
Not all players coming in to spring training are in The Best Shapes of Their Lives. Some have put on a few pounds, such as Miguel Sano, notes Twins GM Thad Levine:
Sano has been given medical clearance to engage in all baseball workouts with his teammates, his surgically reinforced left shin now completely healed, though the Twins intend to lighten his schedule to prevent any new injuries.
They’d like to lighten something else, too: His “generous carriage,” as General Manager Thad Levine delicately put it last week. Sano’s conditioning understandably lags, after a winter largely spent incapacitated by the surgery.
Sano’s conditioning has often been a topic of conversation among the members of the Minnesota press corps, though not always in good faith. For example, last year when Sano injured his shin by fouling a ball off of it, one member of the The Fourth Estate found a way to make a column out of blaming the freak injury on Sano’s conditioning. At least in this instance his colleague is correctly noting that the poor conditioning is a result of the injury and not the cause.
Still, it’s just another issue facing Sano this spring. He’s out of shape, coming off of an injury, and — not that he’s due any sympathy for it — he’s facing a likely suspension arising out of the allegations of sexual assault leveled against him late last year.
So this spring we’ll be seeing more of Sano, it seems. At least until that time we’ll be seeing less of him.