Minor League Report: Edwin Bellorin
Rockies catcher gaining confidence, comfort with pitchers
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- After two years at the Triple-A level, catcher Edwin Bellorin is ready for another taste of the big leagues.
He caught five innings for the Rockies in 2007, joining the club on Aug. 6 and making his Major League debut the next day. Unfortunately, he strained his hamstring running out a double-play grounder in his first at-bat and went straight to the disabled list. But he returned to the club in September, serving as the third catcher during the pennant chase.
"That was a new experience," Bellorin said Friday before starting a Cactus League game against the Royals. "My first at-bat, I got hurt. I don't feel bad. Things happen. The good thing is they called me up -- that's what I want. And they know I can do a lot more things."
Bellorin brings plenty of confidence to Spring Training in '08, despite knowing that Yorvit Torrealba and Chris Iannetta are expected to return as the Rockies' catching tandem. He hit .326 (72-for-221) with nine homers and 45 RBIs for the Sky Sox in '07 and authored a career-best 15-game hitting streak early in the season. Perhaps most importantly, he's gained a comfort level with many of the Rockies pitchers at the Triple-A and big league level.
"This is my second Spring Training with the Rockies," the 26-year-old Venezuelan said. "Last year, I was comfortable with the pitchers, and they were comfortable with me, too. They talk to me a lot about the hitters.
"Now, this is the next level -- the last level. I'm going to have pitchers that have more experience. I've been talking to Jeff Francis, Aaron Cook and the rest of the pitchers. We'll talk about their stuff, the hitters, what ball they like in the count. They help me a lot. If I don't make the team, I'll go to Colorado Springs and do my best, and then when they move me up, I'm going to be ready for them."
When he's not picking his pitchers' brains, he does the same with the other catchers in camp, most notably the veteran Torrealba.
"When I'm not playing, I'll watch Torrealba three or four innings, how he plays, the way he calls the game," Bellorin said. "That helps me a lot."
Whether it all adds up to Bellorin breaking in with the big club remains to be seen, but he understands the challenge in front of him.
"I'm doing my best to make the team, that's what everybody wants," he said. "With the way I'm hitting right now, I'm working out every single day and going to the cage. I hope I make the team soon. My bat is getting real fast.
"If they think I'm not ready, I'm going to be fine going back to the Springs," Bellorin added. "I'll keep doing my best. I've had two pretty good years playing Triple-A. If they send me back, I'll do my best."
Big guns: Dexter Fowler got some Cactus League action Thursday, facing a pair of big leaguers in the late innings. He faced Trevor Hoffman and Cla Meredith, popping to the catcher and grounding to the pitcher, respectively.
"It was an experience, but at the same time, you go in, and you're definitely working on things and trying to go out and show them what you got," Fowler said the next day, not phased by the opportunity to prove himself against the best the big leagues have to offer.
Though bunting has always been a part of his game, he's been taking tips from his center-field mate, Willy Taveras, to bring that element up a notch.
"Willy T helps me out with my bunting," Fowler said. "Just refining it a little bit."
They're No. 1: Right-hander Greg Reynolds, the Rockies' top pick from the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, was the subject of some buzz Thursday, when the Rockies played the Padres. He started his second professional season at Double-A Tulsa last year and went 4-1 with a 1.42 ERA in eight starts before being shut down with a right shoulder injury.
Rockies manager Clint Hurdle mentioned Reynolds while talking about the pitching depth he was striving for coming out of Spring Training, explaining that he liked to have eight starters ready to go at the end of Spring Training.
"We've got a kid, Reynolds, that was probably ahead of everybody last year that's working his way back," Hurdle said. "We'll see how he works out. He'd probably be eight and a half."
Ian Stewart, the Rockies' top pick in the 2003 Draft, is trying to break in with the team either at second base or in a bench role. Stewart has played two Cactus League games at second, three at third and started his third game as the designated hitter Friday. He entered the game hitting .263 with one RBI.
Sandwich pick Jayson Nix ('01) has drawn attention at second base, where he's also among the crowded field competing for the job. He showed some defensive flair Wednesday against the White Sox and made his fourth appearance at second Friday in Surprise, going deep off Kyle Davies for his first hit of the spring, a blast to the left-field picnic area.
Chris Nelson ('04) has played two games at shortstop and has one base hit in four at-bats.
Class of '07: Casey Weathers is the only member of the class of '07 in big league camp this spring. The right-hander pitched one-third of an inning when the Rockies took on the Mexican National Team at the end of February.
The rest of the '07 Draft class should all be arriving in Tucson, Ariz., by the end of the weekend. Pitchers and catchers checked in Feb. 29, and position players arrived Friday, with the first full workout slated for Sunday.
What they're saying: "I'm still getting ready, still trying to get to game speed. I'm just trying to be a more complete player. Baserunning, hitting, fielding, all of the above. And bunting." -- Nelson, before Friday's game
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.