Rockies bring back Clint Hurdle, add intriguing minor league reliever

Oct 7, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle (13) in the dugout before playing the St. Louis Cardinals in game four of the National League divisional series at PNC Park. The St. Louis Cardinals won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

If there’s one thing the Colorado Rockies can be counted on to do, it’s rely on what’s familiar.

The return of former Rox manager Clint Hurdle is the latest example of that, though this time he won’t serve as the club’s skipper. Hurdle is back in the organization as a special assistant to the general manager, as first reported by Tracy Ringolsby of Inside the Seams. He’ll work alongside Bill Schmidt mainly in the area of player development, notes Ringolsby. Hurdle served as a minor league instructor for the Rockies early in the franchise’s existence before finding a spot on the big league staff and later played a big part in the big league development of many of the players who made up the 2007 National League championship squad.

At first glance, it’s easy to write off the Rockies’ addition of Hurdle as yet another retread. It’s been well established by now that the head honcho, Dick Monfort, very much favors the devil he knows over the one he doesn’t, and Schmidt has followed the lead of his boss during his short time as GM. But Hurdle did a great job getting another young, talented, and mostly homegrown squad–the Pittsburgh Pirates of the mid-2010s–to gel into a playoff team, an accomplishment that suggests at least some level of expertise.

Hurdle is a smart baseball guy with an old-school flair that will fit right in with the Rockies’ restructured front office, but he’s not stubborn, either. Who knows how much of a role he’ll actually play in whatever overall direction the francise decides to go, but regardless, he’s been there before and will likely serve the Rockies well as a voice of reason, if nothing else.

Rockies add LHP in minor league Rule 5 Draft

The Rockies lost one reliever but picked up another in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft last week. That phase was, of course, the only one to take place due to the lockout currently being imposed by major league owners.

Colorado saw left-hander Zach Matson get plucked away by the Pittsburgh Pirates with the second overall selection in the draft. Matson is a big-bodied releiever who struck out 15.5 batters per nine innings at Double-A Hartford last season but struggled with walks at time, issuing 15 in 33 innings. He finished 2021 with a 5.73 ERA. The Rockies responded by drafting lefty reliever Gabriel Rodriguez from the Atlanta Braves’ system. Rodriguez is intriguging because of his massive strikeout ability–he’s punched out 81 batters in 43 minor league innings–but he has walk issues, as well, allowing an eye-popping 68 free passes. Rodriguez hasn’t proven to be hittable, which suggests he could be extremely effective if he were to throw strikes more regularly.

Outfielder Walking Cabrera, who–true to his name–posted an on-base percentage exactly 100 points higher than his batting average with the Rockies’ Arizona Complex League team in 2021, was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in Round 2. Colorado did not opt to make any picks after the first round.

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