Pacheco Looking Like A Catch





DENVER—On the final day of spring training in 2008, Jordan Pacheco, much to his disbelief, was told he would become a catcher and no longer play second base.

The Rockies liked Pacheco's hands but thought he lacked the necessary agility and quickness for second base or the power potential to profile as a corner infielder. Catching would play to Pacheco's leadership skills, although initially it meant a return to short-season Tri-City in 2008.

"He has just come on like gangbusters," roving catching coordinator Marv Foley said. "It's been a nice project for everybody involved. And hopefully he continues to improve. And he can hit, man, there's no question about it. He's an offensive player."

At high Class A Modesto, Pacheco, 24, began the season hitting .365/.434/.492 in 63 at-bats. He's coming off a .322/.379/.492 season with 13 homers and 79 RBIs in 451 at-bats at low Class A Asheville where he was named MVP of the South Atlantic League. In his first big league camp this spring, Pacheco impressed Rockies manager Jim Tracy on offense—7-for-11 with seven RBIs in 10 games—and behind the plate.

"He frames it very well," Tracy said. "He funnels the ball to the middle of his body very, very well. He's extremely quiet back there and he's been doing it for such a very short period of time."

Pacheco, a 2007 ninth-round pick out of New Mexico, sets up and blocks balls well and has plenty of arm. He has shortened his exchange and his arm action and is better at not standing upright when getting in position to throw.

He has, in short, settled in behind the plate.

"I'm starting to embrace it more and more," Pacheco said. "I'm starting to like being kind of in control on the field, helping out the pitcher and kind of being the brains behind everything. I've learned a lot these last few years and I'm enjoying it more and more each step."

ROCKY ROADS


• Injury-plagued shortstop Chris Nelson went to extended spring training from Triple-A Colorado Springs, where he began the season on the disabled list after suffering a strain in the mid-section of his left side taking a swing late in spring training.

• Asheville center fielder Eliezer Mesa hit .364/.388/.597 with 12 doubles, three triples, 11 RBIs and 18 runs scored in his first 17 games.