MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Story writing his own ticket in camp

Rockies prospect showing off skills as shortstop competition heats up

Story writing his own ticket in camp

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Shortstop prospect Trevor Story has sent a message to the Rockies.

He is big league ready.

And that's good news.

The Rockies' shortstop situation is in limbo.

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Veteran Jose Reyes faces charges of domestic violence, and a court date in Hawaii scheduled for April 4, the day the regular season opens. Meanwhile, Major League Baseball continues its investigation into Reyes' situation with Commissioner Rob Manfred having indicated earlier in Spring Training that a decision on a possible suspension of Reyes would likely come after the legal issues are settled.

"It's something that is not in our control," said Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich. "It is incumbent on us to prepare for every situation possible."

One scenario is very clear. Reyes won't be on the Rockies' Opening Day roster.

He was placed on paid leave pending resolution of his domestic abuse case, and as a result, has not reported to Spring Training.

Story has been on hand, however. And he has been making a strong case for being ready to make the jump to the big leagues after splitting the 2015 season between Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Albuquerque.

"He is showing everybody the type of talent we have seen out of him for many years," said Bridich. "In terms of an announcement, whatever decision there is, we will have 2 1/2 weeks of camp, so we're going to keep playing him like we're playing him, just about every other day, in the starting lineup, and playing a lot. … He has put a great foot forward. "

Story, 23, is hitting .321 this spring and leads the Rockies with four home runs and 10 RBI. He singled twice in Friday's 6-6 tie with the Angels, including a two-run single off veteran right-hander Garrett Richards to tie the game at 2.

He also has shown steady defense.

Story's two-run single

"He is focused on every day," said Bridich. "He's focused on his work when he is not in the game, and that is really what is helping him have his success right now."

Add it all together and it would seem to put him in position to open the 24th season in franchise history at shortstop, which would make him only the second player to make his big league debut in the Rockies Opening Day lineup. Jeff Baker drew the start at third base in 2005 after Garrett Atkins strained a hamstring the final weekend of the exhibition season.

With veteran infielder Daniel Descalso sidelined with broken bone in his left hand, suffered when he was hit by a pitch from Cleveland left-hander Tom Gorzelanny a week ago, Story, Cristhian Adames and Rafael Ynoa were left in the shortstop battle.

"If the scenario happens that Reyes is suspended, we have young guys ready to step up and take advantage of the opportunity," said Bridich. "We feel comfortable with the options we have."

Story's fine grab

Story is the No. 11 prospect in the Rockies system; Adames is No. 28.

Adames and Ynoa have already debuted in the Majors, and are envisioned long-term in utility roles.

That has led to some speculation that the Rockies could go with one of them to avoid starting the clock on potential arbitration and free agency for Story.

That, however, has never been a consideration with the Rockies.

"Every decision you make coming out of camp is an individual decision," said Bridich. "There is no blanket policy we worked off of. You take a look at who you think the best player is, and does he fit on this team, and does the group fit together like you want.

"The whole issue of starting the clock and all that kind of stuff is kind of blown out of proportion. Trevor is already on the [40-man] roster and his clock has already started on that roster, technically. And two, even if we do start him with the big league club right away, it's not like it is set in stone that he is up forever."

There was speculation three years ago when Nolan Arenado spent the first four weeks of the season at Triple-A Colorado Springs, but that was more a challenge to Arenado, which the third baseman accepted and handled well.

The previous year, then general manager Dan O'Dowd had met with Arenado, who was with Double-A Tulsa, the final week of July, and told him there were concerns about Arenado's approach to the game and that he would not even be considered for a September callup. Arenado finished strong with the Drillers that year, and had a good camp the following spring, but the decision was made to send him to Triple-A to start that season to reinforce the message delivered to him in Tulsa.

Eighteen games into the 2013 season he was hitting .392 with three home runs and 21 RBIs, and joined the big league team in Arizona on April 28. That season, he joined Frank Malzone, of the 1957 Red Sox, as the only rookies to win a Gold Glove at third base.

"We wanted to make sure when Nolan was called up he was coming up for good," said O'Dowd. "He was challenged and embraced it."

The circumstances are different for Story, but he too seems to be embracing his challenge.

"He has been in complete control of what he's doing right now," said manager Walt Weiss.

Story's timing, in light of Reyes' situation, is excellent.

Tracy Ringolsby is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.