The Natural

Rockies first baseman has impressive stroke





DENVER—Flaws come with the territory when roving hitting coordinator Jim Johnson observes new professionals. That's why first baseman Ben Paulsen was such a wonderful revelation last year.

"He's got an unbelievable swing," Johnson said. "It's already a big league swing. It's a pure swing. He's got a major league stroke as we speak. The ball comes off the bat as a big leaguer. It's a very advanced swing. This guy just needs to get stronger."

Paulsen, who bats left and throws right, began his career at short-season Tri-City in 2009 after the Rockies drafted him in the third round out of Clemson, where his father, Tom Riginios, is the associate head coach.

In 44 games for the Dust Devils, Paulsen hit .280/.325/.377 with one homer in 175 at-bats. Farm director Marc Gustafson praised Paulsen for having "Seth Smith-type natural hitting ability," comparing Paulsen to the Rockies outfielder.

Paulsen, 22, could use some work defensively, where he is by no means deficient. It remains to be seen how much power Paulsen will have although the Rockies believe ultimately he'll have enough.

"It's the perfect bat path," Johnson said, "stays through the ball and his finish is right. This guy's swing is smooth and electric. When you see it, you just go, 'Oh wow, that's pretty good.' "

ROCKY ROADS

• Lefthander Christian Friedrich is one of the non-roster prospects who will attend major league spring training for the first time. The group also includes three relievers—righthanders Craig Baker and Andrew Johnston and lefthander  Matt Reynolds—along with third baseman Darin Holcomb and catcher Jordan Pacheco.

• Righty Greg Reynolds will attend a camp at the Rockies complex in the Dominican Republic. Reynolds missed the entire 2009 season after making his initial start for Triple-A Colorado Springs. He had scapula surgery in late October and threw a 45-pitch bullpen, all fastballs, without pain at the Rockies medical mini-camp in January at Coors Field.