Tuesday marked the first empty day on the Colorado Springs professional baseball calendar that typically would have been filled.
This was the day that for years had marked the Triple-A Sky Sox “Welcome Luncheon,” as the roster was introduced to the community and members of the media.
Instead, as Colorado Springs has moved from Triple-A to Rookie League, that event happened in San Antonio.
Colorado Springs had served as a Triple-A city since 1988.
The San Antonio Missions introduced a roster that includes the Milwaukee Brewers top prospect, infielder Keston Hiura, and the No. 2 prospect, outfielder Corey Ray. Ray was the Double-A Southern League MVP last year as he became the first player to lead the league in home runs (27) and stolen bases (37). Tyrone Taylor, Mauricio Dubon, Jacob Nottingham and Nate Orf are among the former Colorado Springs players also on the roster. Manager Rick Sweet and his staff are also returning.
This is not to say the Vibes are idle until the start of the short-season calendar. They have taken down the name from the stadium and are expected to announce a new title sponsor. Also, the concession areas are being refurbished, according to photos on social media.
The Vibes roster, which will include players drafted in June, will not take shape for the next several months. The team's first game is June 14 in Orem, Utah, with the home opener following June 21.
Players with local ties land Double-A assignments
Fountain-Fort Carson graduate Nick Green will begin this season in the starting rotation for the New York Yankees’ Double-A affiliate in Trenton, N.J.
Green had been taken by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Rule 5 Draft this offseason, but when he failed to make the opening day roster, he was, by rule, offered back to the Yankees.
Air Force graduate Griffin Jax will also be in Double-A, pitching for the Minnesota Twins’ affiliate in Pensacola, Fla.
Jax posted a 3.70 ERA over 15 appearances last year in a season shortened by his military obligations, but he should be afforded a full season this year as he was approved to join the Air Force’s World Class Athlete Program.
Ties to Rockies are dwindling
The roster for the Colorado Rockies includes only three players who spent time in Colorado Springs when the city served as the team’s Triple-A affiliate.
Only third baseman Nolan Arenado (who was here for only a few weeks during his climb through the minors), outfielder Charlie Blackmon and catcher Chris Iannetta remain. No remaining pitchers who came up through Colorado Springs are with the franchise.
The Rockies cut ties with Colorado Springs before the 2015 season, moving to Albuquerque. Milwaukee then stepped in as the local parent club.