Rox see glimpse of future as prospects shine

Rox see glimpse of future as prospects shine

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Understated Rockies manager Walt Weiss expresses excitement with a sly grin. He couldn't get that off his face after Sunday afternoon's prospect-driven, 9-3 victory over the Reds.

Right-hander Jeff Hoffman and lefty Kyle Freeland, who were drafted consecutively in the first round of the 2014 Draft and have become fast friends who try to one-up each other, each threw two electric innings. Outfield prospect David Dahl, the team's top pick in 2012, and Trevor Story, a supplemental first-rounder in 2011 who is making a bid for the starting shortstop job, each homered. Raimel Tapia started a first-inning rally with an RBI single.

Rockies Top 30 Prospects list

This came on the heels of equally eye-opening work in a Sunday morning B game against the D-backs by righty prospect Antonio Senzatela, who was dominant for three innings, and German Marquez, who was steady for two.

Rockies fans can go ahead with the #ProspectPalooza hashtag. For his part, Weiss will grin about Sunday and hope the future will make him really get wild and even cackle.

"It was a good day all around," Weiss said.

Hoffman, taken ninth overall by the Blue Jays and traded in the Troy Tulowitzki deal last summer, made his spring debut along with Freeland. Now these Spring Training housemates have new material with which to torture one another.

Hoffman touched 98 mph and averaged 97 on his fastball while striking out two during two spotless innings. As impressive as the fastball was, he also comanded his changeup and curveball. He blew away Calten Dall with a high fastball, and confidently used a full-count curve to fan Jake Cave.

Top Prospects: Hoffman, COL

Freeland worked in the 93-95 mph range and mixed in a slider and a curve. Freeland fanned three, and his only blemish was a misplaced sinker that Reds prospect Phillip Ervin deposited for a home run to left to lead off the sixth.

Let the ribbing begin.

"It's usually back and forth, chirping at each other, telling each other who throws harder … seeing who can give up the most bombs, nothing serious," said Hoffman, who was happy he won the velocity contest.

However, Freeland forced quicker decisions. His three outs that weren't strikeouts were grounders.

"We compete in everything," Freeland said. "We compete in golf, baseball, you name it. That's good. We're going to push each other to get better.

"He got me with 'velo,' I think I got him with location."

Weiss hopes to enjoy this one-upmanship when both are ready for the Majors. Hoffman returned from Tommy John surgery last year and threw impressively at Double-A in the Jays and Rockies organizations. He displayed positive intangibles Sunday.

"Very much in control, and he's got a plus breaking ball to go along with the good fastball -- that 3-2 breaking ball, it doesn't get any better than that," Weiss said.

Freeland had an operation to clear bone chips and scar tissue from his left elbow and had shoulder fatigue last year, but dominated in the Arizona Fall League.

"Freeland attacked the strike zone with a real good fastball," Weiss said. "Two good-looking young arms out there today."

Dahl, who missed much of last season at Double-A New Britain after having his spleen removed, made his first spring start (in left) and went 2-for-5 -- with the homer off Reds starter Jon Moscot -- to leave his spring average at .364 with a 1.000 OPS.

"We know there's power -- we've seen him go opposite field -- you can say it's sneaky power," Weiss said.

Top Prospects: Dahl, COL

In the eighth, Story homered for the second time this spring off righty Stephen Johnson. Story also had a bases-loaded walk in a recent game and is batting .333 with a 1.889 OPS.

"He looks very calm in everything he is doing -- even the at-bats," Weiss said. "He's drawn a couple of tough walks in some situations where it's easy to get anxious."

Switch-hitting Cristhian Adames, also competing for the shortstop job, went 1-for-2 while playing second base and is hitting .375 with a 1.000 OPS. Adames is out of Minor League options and could force tough decisions as a utility man even if he doesn't beat out Story.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.