Harrison Musgrave didn't enter Spring Training as a candidate for the fifth spot in the Colorado Rockies' starting rotation. Then teammate Chad Bettis revealed he was still battling testicular cancer, and Musgrave ended up as one of five rookies battling to fill two spots instead of one.
The Rockies' No. 26 prospect, Musgrave gave it his all and ended up being the final candidate sent down to Triple-A. Now he will look to build off that effort with the Albuquerque Isotopes this season.
"It was really good," Musgrave said. "I got to spend a lot of time with the big league club, see how they operate. I made sure I tried a little bit harder to make the team. I did all right. Maybe some time this year [I get the call], who knows?"
With Jon Gray recently going on the Rockies' disabled list, that call could come sooner than later, though Musgrave is not on the 40-man roster like fellow starters Jeff Hoffman and German Marquez.
Those were two of the pitchers, along with Kyle Freeland and Antonio Senzatela, with whom Musgrave competed in Spring Training.
"It's really cool," Musgrave said of the friendly competition between the group. "It's probably not what everybody thinks. You kind of look for inconsistencies. Nobody is rooting for anyone to do bad or any of that stuff. Knowing everybody for so long, it's easy to get pumped for them."
After six brilliant starts at Double-A Hartford last season (5-1, 1.79 ERA), Musgrave was promoted to Albuquerque, where he made another 19 starts. Even in an environment unfriendly to pitchers, Musgrave held his own, going 8-7 with a 4.30 ERA.
Musgrave said he will take what he learned last year and from big league camp this spring to do even better this year.
Video: Albuquerque's Musgrave rings up third batter
"I got a little bit more consistent throughout the spring," Musgrave said. "I'm not going to overpower people, so as long as I'm hitting the vast majority of my spots, I'm giving myself a chance. That's all that matters."
Command will always be the key for Musgrave, whose fastball sits around 90 mph to go with a plus changeup and a slider.
"If you're commanding your pitches, even if they're not moving as you'd like or they're not as sharp, you can still hit your spots," he said. "That keeps hitters off-balance in general. If you throw anything down the middle every time, eventually it's going to get hit. But if you're locating it, that's all that matters."
Musgrave has a 5.19 ERA and has not factored in the decision in two starts for the Isotopes, who are off to a 6-6 start.
"I'm really excited," Musgrave said. "I got to play with maybe 20 of these guys around big league camp. We have a lot of experience on this team. We're probably one of the youngest Triple-A teams, but we have experience. We've got good, consistent fielders and hitters."
Arroyo in the flow: The hottest hitter out of the gate in the PCL is Sacramento shortstop Christian Arroyo. The Giants' No. 2 prospect has hit a scorching .471/.514/.647 through Sunday with one homer, three doubles, five RBIs and nine runs scored.
Defiant Sox: So far, right-hander Brandon Woodruff has disputed the notion that Colorado Springs is a death sentence to a pitcher's ERA. The Brewers' No. 8 prospect has won both of his starts, allowing just two unearned runs in 11 1/3 innings, striking out nine while allowing just six hits and three walks.
Sound off: Not every prospect has gotten off to a hot start, as Nashville outfielder/first baseman Matt Olson can attest. The Athletics' No. 18 prospect has hit just .179/.289/.282 with a solo home run and 11 strikeouts in his first 39 at-bats.