After a lull in activity, the Colorado Rockies are starting to pick up the pace on minor-league signings. Their most notable move this week was to add a player with past ties to the Albuquerque Isotopes.
Outfielder Alex Castellanos, who played for Albuquerque in 2012 and 2013, signed a minor-league deal this week. Castellanos, 29, split last season between Triple-A Las Vegas (Mets) and the Yomiuri Giants of Japan’s Central League.
Castellanos had much more success stateside, putting up some robust numbers with the 51s (.314/.381/.614, 16 HR, 56 RBI). He was just 2-for-20 with 11 strikeouts in Japan.
The Isotopes could certainly use him back. With Matt McBride, Roger Bernadina and Tim Wheeler currently free agents and Blake Parker projected to be in the big leagues in 2016, that left just probable Double-A call-ups like David Dahl, Noel Cuevas, and Michael Tauchman projected for the Albuquerque outfield.
Castellanos has also spent time around the infield in the past. That versatility is always a plus at Triple-A, where rosters are constantly in flux.
Two other recent additions to the Rockies’ minor-league player pool could also suit up for the Isotopes in 2016. Catcher Jackson Williams went 2-for-10 for the San Francisco Giants last season after having appeared briefly with the Rockies in 2014.
Williams has a reputation as a good defensive catcher, though he barely hit (.228/.312/.279, HR, 18 RBI) at Double-A Richmond last season. It should be noted, however, that the Flying Squirrels play in one of the toughest ballparks for hitters in the minors.
Right-hander Brock Huntzinger comes over after a rough year (4-4, 4.63 ERA, 1 save) at Triple-A Nashville (Athletics). He originally came up through the ranks in the Boston Red Sox farm system, though he has never reached the Majors.
Two pitchers who split 2015 between Colorado and Albuquerque were also re-signed by the Rockies. Lefty reliever Jason Gurka and lefty swingman Yohan Flande will both compete for big-league spots in the spring, with the possibility of returning to the Isotopes if that does not work out.
Another 2015 Isotope has found a new/old home. Lefty Aaron Laffey signed with the Washington Nationals, for whom he pitched for a Triple-A Syracuse in 2014.
As for some pre-2015 Isotopes, right-hander Josh Wall signed with the Chicago White Sox while lefty Scott Rice has joined the Arizona Diamondbacks. Right-hander Stephen Fife, who sat out all of 2015 after Tommy John surgery, has linked up with the Chicago Cubs.
Utility player Elian Herrera, who played for the Milwaukee Brewers last season, has rejoined the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. Infielder Robert Andino, after a year in the independent Atlantic League, has rejoined the Miami Marlins, his original organization.
Hard-throwing right-hander Jose Dominguez joined the San Diego Padres, while lefty Dana Eveland signed with the Tampa Bay Rays. All of the contracts listed above are of the minor-league variety.
To keep track of all the moves involving current or former members of the Rockies organization, bookmark Purple Row, Colorado’s SB Nation page. They were first to report Gurka re-signing.