By Rich Arleo
CBS Local Sports, in our 30 Players 30 Days spring training feature, profiles one young player from each Major League Baseball team leading up to opening day.
Trevor Story, Shortstop, Colorado Rockies
2015 season (Minors): 130 G, 512 AB, .279 BA, 20 HR, 80 RBI, 22 SB, .863 OPS
Sometimes, top prospects never make it. Sometimes, top prospects take time to develop but eventually live up to their hype..Other times, top prospects appear ready to break into the bigs in no time, and then they hit a wall. That’s exactly what happened to Rockies shortstop prospect Trevor Story. Many times when young players hit a wall as they try to climb through the Minors, they get stuck and end up as proverbial quadruple-A players. Story is looking to avoid that stigma, and he appears well on his way after beginning the season as the Rockies’ starting shortstop.
With Jose Reyes’ future uncertain as the Rockies await a decision from MLB in the midst of his domestic violence case, Colorado has turned to Story with top prospect and shortstop Brendan Rodgers not quite ready at age 19. This isn’t a case of settling, however, as Story has made a decision to make him the Opening Day starter easy.
Knowing a starting job with the Rockies was on the line, Story tore it up this spring, hitting six homers with 13 RBIs and a .340/.407/.792 slash line in 20 games to earn the role. Story will look to bring his above average power and speed to the Majors this season, but it’s no given he makes a smooth transition, as Story has struggled in moving up levels in the past.
Story was a first-round pick of the Rockies in 2011 and appeared to be on a fast track to the bigs before struggling when trying to make the jump to Double-A in 2014. He managed to hit just .200 in 56 games for Tulsa that year, and Story began to drop down prospect rankings and became a bit of an afterthought last year when the Rox drafted Rodgers third overall.
During last season, though, Story finally began to make a legitimate push to the big leagues. He figured out Double-A pitching, hitting .280 with 10 homers and 15 steals in 69 games before the next test — making the jump to Triple-A. He passed that with flying colors as well, hitting .277 with 10 homers in 61 games.
The Rockies expected Reyes to be a stopgap option after trading Troy Tulowitzki while they waited for Rodgers to develop, but the issues with Reyes opened a spot for Story this spring and he made the most of it. Now he’ll have to pass a final test and prove he can hang at the big league level.
Story possesses plus power for a shortstop, hitting 70 home runs in five Minor League seasons. He also has the speed to be a 20-20 threat in the bigs. While Story may not be a .300 hitter, he balanced his .263 Minors average with a very strong .348 on-base percentage. Story may not have much room for error considering a potential return of Reyes and the development of Rodgers, but he will get the initial chance, and if he plays at his best, he’ll present the Rockies with the favorable problem of having options at the shortstop position.
Rich Arleo is a freelance sports writer and editor who covers Major League Baseball and fantasy sports. You can follow him on Twitter, @Rarleo.