Opening Day in Major League Baseball sort of happened on Monday, and the Colorado Rockies may have already hit their 2016 peak thanks in part to rookie shortstop Trevor Story.
The Rockies were the doormat of the NL West in 2015, only winning 68 games. But so far in 2016, they are undefeated and tied for first atop the division following last night’s 10-5 demolition of the Arizona Diamondbacks. (Only one game has been played, but still…) It was supposed to be a showcase for the Diamondbacks’ shiny new ace, Zack Greinke, but the Rockies had other plans.
Story, 23, stole the spotlight in his major league debut, clubbing two home runs and collecting four RBIs. Greinke lasted just four innings and gave up seven runs before he was pulled, which is the most he’s given up since 2012.
The shortstop’s debut serves as a glimmer of hope for the Rockies and their fans who said goodbye to star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki last season. Jose Reyes was supposed to be the short-term answer at the position, but an offseason domestic violence incident derailed the start of his 2016 season. However, that looming suspension could be a blessing in disguise for the Rockies. Story enjoyed a red-hot spring (compiling a 1.199 OPS), and with Reyes unavailable, the Rockies had no choice but to slot him in the major league lineup.
Now that he is already making baseball history, it seems like the Rockies made the right call. Story is just the sixth player to homer twice in his big league debut, and the first to ever do so on Opening Day. Story’s ascension was far from a sure thing, which makes this story all the more remarkable. ESPN provided a breakdown of how his journey through the minors was far from an easy road.
Story had an up-and-down minor league career after being drafted 45th overall in 2011 out of a Texas high school. He had a big season at low-A ball in 2012, but then struggled in the Class A California League in 2013 when he hit .233 while striking out 183 times. His raw power and athleticism were never an issue; his ability to make contact and control his swing were, but after hitting .200 in a partial season at Double-A in 2014, he started to develop some consistency last year at Double-A New Britain and maintained his production after a promotion to Triple-A…
His power potential is legit: He cracked 20 home runs and 70 extra-base hits in the minors last year while hitting .279, albeit with 141 strikeouts in 130 games. His hot spring even earned him the No. 2 spot in the batting order.
For a team with little hope of competing in 2016, Story has at least provided a spark of hope to a downtrodden fanbase. Of course, the Rockies still have 161 games to snuff that spark out, but at least they are riding high for now.
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