Major League team owners do not tend to show up at Minor League ballparks all that often during the season. Rockies owner Dick Monfort, however, is an exception to that. Every season, he visits every one of his club's affiliates.
During a recent stop in Albuquerque to check out the Isotopes, Monfort took some time to speak to the media about the relationship between the Rockies and their top farm club.
"I try to get to all of our Minor League facilities," he said. "Albuquerque is the easiest. It was a 45-minute plane ride and we had an off-day today. Even though I watched every minute of 92 runs of baseball the last four days, it was a good day to get out here, watch Albuquerque.
"I try to get with the guys at all our Minor League facilities, so we can check it out, talk to the owners, talk to the media. … We like to get out and understand the community and show them that we care and appreciate them for taking care of our young kids."
Monfort said he's been to Albuquerque at least 10 times since the Isotopes and Rockies signed a player development contract that started in 2015, one that's been renewed through 2022.
"One of the things we've always appreciated about Dick and the entire organization is how committed they are about player development, to the Minor League system, to the whole process," Isotopes general manager John Traub said. "And really being committed to Albuquerque -- it means a lot to us."
2019 MiLB include
For Monfort and the Rockies, the partnership between the two cities is a natural one.
"One of the reasons we love Albuquerque is first of all it's a first-rate organization and run extremely well," Monfort said. "They take care of our players and we appreciate that. Second of all, it's really in a territory that should be part of the Rockies' brand. This should be Rockies country."
The business relationship is important, but ultimately the development side is the biggest key. Monfort said from his perspective that takes "a lot of things."
"You've got to have facilities where you can get your work done," he said. "You like a good crowd, which Albuquerque does a good job on. You like the food, you like a spacious clubhouse, good training room, weight room and all that stuff. You're looking for people who care about our players just as much as I care about our players. It really does become a partnership."
The current Rockies roster is loaded with not only Isotopes called up this season, but over the past four years as well.
"Almost every player, there's some who probably don't stop here, but almost every one of our players in the big leagues stops here," Monfort said. "We pride ourselves, the other day, and we lost the game, but the other day in Pittsburgh the entire Rockies [lineup] was drafted and developed. The entire team that started on the field was drafted and developed by our organization. That makes me proud. That's what you're trying to do."
The only surprise for Monfort during his visit was learning that the Isotopes now share their stadium with New Mexico United, an expansion soccer team in the USL Championship.
"That is very much news to me," he said. "But I'm glad I know that. I'm going to take a look out here. I know Zach Wilson, who's in charge of our player development, is aware of it. It's happening all over the place. You can't build these stadiums like you used to be able to. The community is not going to tax up and do that, so you've got to have multiple uses. You can't have 80 games a year in one place and keep it relevant. These guys [the Isotopes staff] are great -- they're going to do a good job."
Patiently waiting: El Paso second baseman Luis Urias continues to rake while awaiting another shot in San Diego. The Padres' No. 2 prospect has hit .336/.424/.651 with 17 home runs in 58 games with the Chihuahuas after a shaky 11-game stint in the Majors earlier this season.
Raining hits: The Mariners recently promoted No. 14 prospect Jake Fraley from Double-A Arkansas to Tacoma. The outfielder was hitting .313/.386/.539 with 11 homers for the Travelers and is 3-for-11 with one homer in three games for the Rainiers.
Indecision: Rangers' No. 7 prospect Joe Palumbo has made 10 starts and 11 relief appearances with Nashville, posting a 3.19 ERA and striking out 69 batters in 53 2 /3 innings. The only odd thing about his personal stats is that he has not recorded a single decision with the Sounds this year as his record sits at 0-0.