“So far, so good,” has been the theme through the first five days of Rockies Spring Training 2018. More specifically, it has been “so far, so good,” as Rockies manager Bud Black put it Tuesday, for 23-year-old Ryan McMahon, who is rising to the biggest challenge of his young professional career. Black echoed that sentiment about another pair of young players challenging for playing time at the big league level in a season that carries high expectations.

Coming off an 87-win season and the club’s first playoff appearance since 2009, the Rockies are so far holding off on re-signing a pair of key contributors from the 2017 roster thanks to high-quality play from a group of prospects the club hopes is ready to take the next step.

The Rockies are giving McMahon first crack at claiming the starting first base job, leaving the club’s starter at the position for the least two seasons, Mark Reynolds, in limbo as he awaits an offer in free agency. The odds of Reynolds, who hit a combined .274 with 44 home runs and 150 RBI over the past two seasons, singing with another club increases with each passing day. However, McMahon’s odds of claiming the job have increased at that same pace with each solid performance through the early part of Spring Training.

The 2013 second-round draft pick through five Cactus League games is batting .500 over 12 at-bats, including two doubles and three runs batted in. He was 1-for-3 in a 5-2 loss to the Angels on Tuesday as the Rockies’ designated hitter and in time at third base. McMahon had an opposite-field double in the sixth inning Tuesday, but also grounded into a double-play with one on and no out in the fourth.

Still, Black saw what he has been looking for early in Spring Training from the the versatile infielder.

“His approach is such that he wants to stay on the ball,” Black said postgame about McMahon’s opposite-field double. “The ball away from him he wants to drive it the other way. I think he has the ability to pull the ball, but we’re just looking for good at-bats from Ryan. So far, in a very short sample size here, he’s given us good at-bats.”

Black spoke with reporters before the game and explained that although McMahon’s numbers are impressive in the early going, the club is more focused on the look and feel of the at-bats than they are the results on the scorecard.

“A lot of times the statistics can be misleading, depending on the type of hit and the quality of the at-bat doesn’t necessarily — you can be fooled a little bit by statistics at times,” Black said. “You need larger samples to really get concrete information.”

McMahon will add to that sample size on Wednesday against the Diamondbacks, batting fifth as the DH. Defensively, veteran Ian Desmond will get more reps first base (and batting leadoff) for the Rockies. Desmond, signed in the 2017 offseason initially to play first base, could challenge McMahon for that job, just as the Rockies could re-sign Reynolds on a short-term deal as they did last season when Demond went down with a hand injury during Spring Training. Despite the pressure — both real and potential — from those established players, McMahon has impressed.

“So far, so good,” Black said in his morning media session on Tuesday. “I think he’s taken some good at-bats so far this spring. The at-bats have been quality. I like what I’m seeing as far as his approach. All the hitting guys are saying that the work he’s done even before games started — cage work, his drills, batting practices — have all been solid. So, that’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for consistency.”

McMahon has delivered that consistency, even though he’s moved around in the lineup (batting eighth twice and fifth three times) and on the field (having played first, third and at DH) in the early going.

Bolstering McMahon’s early 2018 Spring Training returns is an impressive 2017 campaign at the Double- and Triple-A level. He batted a combined .355 in 119 games between Hartford and Albuquerque, including an impressive .374 in 70 games with the Isotopes. Those performances (along with some minor injuries on the big league roster) earned him multiple call-ups in 2017, although he hit just .158 in 19 at-bats with the Rockies last year.

A strong offseason and a solid start to Cactus League play, however, is overshadowing any of those struggles.

“Ryan, the way he is working in practice, the drills on the defensive side, like I mentioned earlier the practice on the offensive side. He’s in a good spot,” Black continued. “For Ryan, in a big league camp, again a little closer to the big leagues. He should be feeling good about his game and he should be gaining confidence. He had a very good year last year. Had a good offseason as far as what was expected of him as far as his offseason workouts. It’s a progress. It’s a progression to get to where a big league player needs to be and Ryan is doing all the correct steps to get there. Now it’s a matter of continued playing through the spring and we’ll see how our roster shakes out, but he’s in a good spot. But he’s competing with a number of other guys, potentially, for a roster spot.”

Two other young players, Jordan Patterson and Mike Tauchman, are among the young players Black alluded to who could factor into the skipper’s roster decisions.

Patterson, a 2014 fourth-round draft pick, could factor in at first base or in the outfield. He’s seen time at multiple positions already this spring, even in the same game as he did at first base and right field on Tuesday. The 26-year-old left-hander is batting .385 with three doubles in 13 at-bats so far this spring.

“Patterson, he’s getting his hits,” Black said. “He can play the outfield. He can play first base. He’s been around a little bit; he knows the drill.”

Patterson’s versatility, and the strong play of Tauchman so far this spring and his combined efforts at the MLB and Triple-A levels last year, have been part of the reason the Rockies have not yet struck a deal with longtime right fielder Carlos Gonzalez, who remains a free agent as well.

Gonzalez reportedly eschewed a four-year extension with the Rockies last season, but went on to post one of the worst statistical seasons of his career. The three-time All-Star rebounded with a strong August and September to help the Rockies clinch a playoff berth, but his struggles early in the season last year and the emergence of Tauchman — and especially that of David Dahl and Raimel Tapia — has caused the club to take pause so far. With proven major leaguers Gerardo Parra and Ian Desmond already on the roster, and with Dahl and Tapia, who proved their major-league worth in 2016 and 2017 respectively, there’s little space for Gonzalez. And with Tauchman’s strong performance so far this spring and a .331 average in Albuquerque last year, the Rockies have so far been comfortable leaving Gonzalez available for other clubs to potentially sign.

“[Tauchman] had a big year last year in Triple-A,” Black said after Tuesday’s game in which Tauchman hit a second-inning home run. “You saw the power numbers go up. He was driving the ball better. He’s got the bat speed that should equate to some extra-base hits and few homers. That ball was well-struck today to straightaway center. [Tauchman is] playing well. He’s getting some hits. He’s having good at-bats.”

All those good at-bats from McMahon, Patterson and Tauchman have kept the free agency wolves at bay for now.

Less than one full week into Cactus League play, it’s far too early to pen any one of them onto the Opening Day roster. Still, the early returns have been so far, so good. In fact, it could be bordering on great.

“These guys are all fighting. Which is great,” Black said after Tuesday’s game.

The Rockies and Diamondbacks face off for the third time in six games with a 1:10 pm MST start at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on Wednesday. Arizona will be the home team at the clubs’ shared facilities.