DENVER -- Several veterans who were hoping to revive their Major League careers with the Rockies but didn't receive callups have opted for free agency. They include catchers Wilkin Castillo and Omir Santos, infielders Brendan Harris and Brandon Wood, right-handed pitchers Eric Jung and Jared Wells, and left-hander Royce Ring.All of them have played in the Majors at some point in their careers and spent time at Triple-A Colorado Springs last season. As expected, first baseman Chad Tracy, son of former Rockies manager Jim Tracy, declared free agency. His brother, Class A catcher Mark Tracy, was traded from the Rockies to the White Sox last week. Also declaring were right-handed pitcher Carlos Torres, who saw significant time with the Rockies last season, as well as outfielder Hernan Iribarren, a presence at Colorado Springs in recent years. Others to become free agents were right-handed pitchers Jason Bergman, Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Ricky Brooks, Kennil Gomez, Brandon Hynick, Michael Marbry, Jeff Marquez, Carlos Martinez, Tim Sexton, Zach Simons and Rafael Suarez; left-handers Dan Merklinger, Joe Torres and Jonathan Vargas; infielder Helder Velazquez; and outfielders Chris Pettit, Brandon Roberts and Tim Torres. The Rockies can sign any of the players who have opted for free agency.
Rockies pleased with Outman's development
DENVER -- Rockies left-hander Josh Outman has continued his season-ending roll in the Dominican Winter League.In three starts for Toros del Este, Outman is 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA, with 13 strikeouts against two walks in 15 innings. This is on the heels of Outman finishing the 2012 Major League season by not giving up a run in nine of his final 12 appearances. It's an encouraging finish to what looked to be a difficult season for Outman, acquired last winter from the Athletics. Outman began the year at Triple-A Colorado Springs, posted a 9.82 ERA in 15 Major League games (seven starts) between May 12 and July 12, then found himself at Double-A Tulsa trying to find himself. In Double-A, Outman was 2-5 with a 3.63 ERA and didn't flourish until his final outing. But his work at the end of the Major League year and in the Dominican suggests he could compete for a spot in the Rockies' rotation or bullpen next spring. Rockies player development director Jeff Bridich said the club has received positive reports from Tony Diaz, the organization's manager at Rookie level Casper last season and the Toros' third-base coach. "He [Outman] has pitched well in every game except one, when he was up in the zone and got away with some things," Bridich said. 'He's commanding the zone, down with all his pitches and really attacking hitters very well." Outman gradually found his form while working with Dave Schuler, the Tulsa pitching coach, before returning to the Rockies. "There were some mechanical things he worked on but really it was a combination of things," Bridich said. "He needed to get back to using all his pitches, and he really needed to rediscover the bottom of the strike zone. That was a big one, because it got him back to attacking hitters instead of trying to touch and feel his way through innings."
Chacin progressing nicely after tough 2012
DENVER -- Rockies right-hander Jhoulys Chacin finished the regular season strong, after missing nearly four months with a nerve issue in the right side of his chest, and he appears to be improving in the Venezuelan Winter League.Chacin is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in three starts for Caracas. His best start was last Sunday, when he went seven innings and held Margarita to one run on six hits, with four strikeouts against two walks. "I was trying to pitch as many innings as possible, and our offense and defense helped me out a lot," Chacin said to reporter Dayron Padilla of the Meridano newspaper. "The Rockies told me to come to Venezuela so I could work more on my command. Thank God I'm achieving that goal and they are happy with the job I've done so far."
Blackmon thriving in Dominican Winter League
DENVER -- After struggling for much of the 2012 season with a nagging turf toe issue, Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon is healthy and prosperous in the Dominican Winter League. A Toros teammate of Josh Outman, Blackmon has hit .296 with six RBIs, three doubles, a triple and a .361 on-base percentage.Blackmon, who had a chance to make the Opening Day roster before the toe problem reared, finished the regular season with the Rockies and hit a healthy .283 in 42 games, after batting .303 in 59 games for Triple-A Colorado Springs. He went to the Dominican to make up for the at-bats he missed while rehabbing. "He's doing well offensively and defensively, and he's facing a lot of left-handed pitching, which is a good thing, and doing well," Rockies player development director Jeff Bridich said. "He's been running around and looking healthy, not thinking about the injuries at all."
Dickerson picking up speed after slow start
DENVER -- Rockies outfield prospect Corey Dickerson has hit .306 with a home run, four RBIs and five steals in six attempts in his first 12 Arizona Fall League games. Dickerson, who started the Fall League season slowly, also had a good showing in the league's Rising Stars Game.This is coming off a .274 performance with 16 doubles, 13 home runs and seven steals in 10 attempts for Double-A Tulsa.
Matthes enjoys AFL success with Rafters
DENVER -- After stumbling to a .214 batting average at Double-A Tulsa, highly-touted outfield prospect Kent Matthes has put up a .279 battng average with four home runs, four doubles and 13 RBIs in his first 16 Arizona Fall League games for the Salt River Rafters.Matthes had an oblique strain late in the year with Tulsa. He did manage 17 home runs and hit well in July before sustaining the injury. The Rockies hope the next step for Matthes, a fourth-round Draft pick out of Alabama in 2009 and the Class A California League MVP in 2011, is to show consistency over time against top competition. "It's a nice thing that he is facing really good pitching and he's doing well right now, but it is what it is," Rockies player development director Jeff Bridich said. "Hopefully he is in a good frame of mind and this sets him up for a strong Spring Training next year."
Holliday joins Braves' scouting department
DENVER -- Dave Holliday, special assistant to the general manager since 2007, has left the Rockies to join the Braves in a professional scouting capacity.
Holliday, uncle to former Rockies slugger and current Cardinals star Matt Holliday, was one of the team's longest-tenured employees. He was hired from the Pirates in 1994.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.