Back In The Game

Rockies' Hancock back from restricted list




TUCSON, Az.—Kyle Hancock, who the Rockies barely saw and thought they'd seen the last of, will report to minor league camp after being reinstated from the restricted list.

The Rockies drafted Hancock, 21, out of Rowlett (Texas) High in the third round in 2005, the 87th player taken overall. The righthander turned down a scholarship from Arkansas to sign with the Rockies. They gave Hancock a $475,000 bonus, which he forfeited in short order.

Hancock joined Rookie-level Casper in late July 2005 during a road trip in Idaho Falls. He took a long, crowded overnight bus trip to Orem, and after not enjoying the experience at all, left for home before even seeing Casper or playing in a game with the team.

Based on where he was drafted, Hancock, obviously, was a glowing prospect at the time.

"He had a good arm and he could spin a breaking ball at the time," Rockies scouting director Bill Schmidt said. "He got into the low 90s—88 to 92, 93 (mph). He was very projectable at that time at 17. Now we'll see where he's at; I believe he's 21."

Schmidt said Hancock talked about returning to the Rockies organization in 2006 but never did. That only magnified the questions that existed about Hancock's makeup following his short stay in 2005, questions that might soon be answered.

"Hopefully, he's matured," Schmidt said. "He's had four years to mature."

This winter Hancock petitioned the commissioner's office to play. He remained under the Rockies' control on the restricted list, and they had to reinstate him.

Hancock certainly could get released in spring training. Or he could show enough on and off the field in minor league camp to move on to extended spring training before going to Casper in June.

"Somebody's going to pitch up there this summer," Schmidt said. "We'll see what we have here and bring him to camp. We have no expectations."

ROCKY ROADS

• Righthander Franklin Nunez, 32, and lefthander Kurt Birkins, 28, both with major league experience, signed minor league contracts and will compete for relief roles at Triple-A Colorado Springs. Nunez went 2-0 in 11 games in the Dominican League this winter with a 3.72 ERA, four walks and 18 strikeouts in 19 innings.

• The Rockies signed Dominican outfielder Julian Yan, one of the top available prospects after the end of the July 2 international signing period. Yan, 17, is 6-foot-2, 170 pounds.