When the Milwaukee Brewers entered the Centennial State for their lone series at Coors Field with the Colorado Rockies last weekend, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox were well-represented.
Between the two teams, 24 athletes spent time playing within the confines of Security Service Field in the home whites.
The former MLB affiliate that spent so many years sending rehabbing MLB players 75 miles down Interstate 25 to the delight of thousands of fans clad in purple and black met up with the current MLB affiliate, whose farm system has received such a facelift in recent years that the fans in Colorado Springs have had the opportunity to see the next wave of players make the flight to Wisconsin.
A mini-history lesson of recent Colorado Springs baseball was unveiling itself to the delight of the 112,207 fans that filled Blake Street throughout the three-game series in Downtown Denver. The contributions of the current incarnation of the Sky Sox on the two teams stretching in the outfield grass that Friday evening is hard to ignore.
On one side, Milwaukee is on pace to continue its gradual win increase in the three seasons since the Sox have been their Triple-A affiliate (68 wins in 2015, 73 wins in 2016). Entering the 2017 season, Colorado Springs had one of the most loaded rosters in terms of prospects in all of minor league baseball and Milwaukee landed in the top-5 in all of baseball in terms of the strength of their farm system.
Representing the Sox Friday night were 17 former Sky Sox: three members of the 2015 team (Zach Davies, Corey Knebel and Domingo Santana), five members of the 2016 team (Jacob Barnes, Manny Pina, Orlando Arcia, Keon Broxton, Hernan Perez and Andrew Susac), and eight players who spent time in Colorado Springs during the 2017 season (Chase Anderson, Matt Garza, Josh Hader, Eric Sogard, Brent Suter, Stephen Vogt and Brandon Woodruff, as well as Broxton and Suter). Carlos Torres played for the Sky Sox in 2012 when the team was a Rockies affiliate.
On the other side, Colorado has been one of the consistent frontrunners of the National League, looking to finish no worse than second in the NL West Division for the third time since their World Series run in 2007. As of August 21, the Rockies are 15 wins away from tying the most wins in a season this decade (83, 2010), thanks to a core of former Sox regulars.
Seven current Rockies once donned the home whites at Security Service Field: pitchers Chad Bettis (2014), Tyler Chatwood (2012-14) and Adam Ottavino (2012), infielders Nolan Arenado (2013-14) and D.J. LeMahieu (2012-13), and outfielders Charlie Blackmon (2011-13) and Carlos Gonzalez (2009, 11, 13, 14) all received the call to make the 75-mile trek to Denver.
Of the 12 combined runs scored in Colorado's 8-4 series-opening victory, eight were driven in by former Colorado Springs players. Blackmon led off the home at-bats with a solo blast to left-center field for his team-leading 29th long ball of the season to put the Rockies up 1-0.
The Brewers left Colorado tied with the New York Mets for the National League lead in home run with 184. Santana added to their season total with a solo shot of his own to straightaway centerfield for No. 20 of 2017.
Milwaukee would add another run to take a 2-1 lead entering the third inning, when Colorado jumped ahead for good with a trio of runs. Arenado put the hosts ahead with a two-run triple-his seventh three-bagger of the season (the most in any one season)-for RBI No. 104 and 105.
Gonzalez made his mark on the game in the middle innings, scoring Colorado's fifth run on a throwing error in the fourth inning. One frame later, the right fielder capped the scoring by launching a two-run shot to left-centerfield for his eighth home run of the season.
While Torres tossed three scoreless relief innings for Milwaukee, the Brewers offense tacked on two more runs via the long ball. Broxton began with a solo home run to center field for his 20th of the season, while Arcia followed with home run No. 12 to the same spot to give the visitors back-to-back home runs against starter German Marquez.
The current affiliate went on to clinch the series with a pair of weekend victories, but the club that spent 21 seasons with the Sky Sox as their Triple-A squad claimed Friday night to the delight of the Coors Field faithful, marking the start of a new chapter in Colorado Springs baseball history.
After Quintin Berry made an appearance in August 2017, 804 players that have logged time in the Major Leagues have played for the Sky Sox during their minor league career. 76 % of the 1,050 total players to have played for the Sky Sox have made the big leagues, further establishing Colorado Springs as a city rich with baseball history during the 46 seasons that there has been baseball in Olympic City.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.