Rockies' Story Continues To Grow In Second Season
ASHEVILLE, N.C.—Trevor Story
looks like a baseball player.
The 19-year-old shortstop has impressed many in his first season with low Class A Asheville. From his burgeoning power to the surprising plate discipline he has shown, Story draws the ultimate compliment from veteran Tourists manager Joe Mikulik.
"From the get go, Trevor is a baseball player," he said. "He's got natural raw ability. He's a guy who when you watch him and his actions you can just tell he is a baseball player."
Story has endured some ups and downs to hit .272/.366/.501 in 375 at-bats while splitting time between shortstop and third base. He ranked second in the South Atlantic League with 31 doubles and 51 extra-base hits and fifth in total bases with 188.
Coming out of a Dallas-area high school, Story was lauded for his power potential at shortstop, and the Rockies nabbed him with the 45th overall pick in the 2011 draft. That power has been on display at the friendly confines of Asheville's McCormick Field, as Story had hit 15 home runs and 51 RBIs through his first 96 games.
Story's strong sophomore season has been a continuation of his first, when he ranked as the Rookie-level Pioneer League's No. 1 prospect. Though not considered a plus runner, he relied on his instincts to steal 13 bases in just 47 games. He had not been as active on the basepaths this season, swiping 11 bases in 14 tries, but the Asheville coaching staff has remained enthusiastic.
"He's just now starting to run a little better," hitting coach Mike Devereaux said. "He gets great jumps as far as stolen bases. I'm really impressed with him."
Controlling The Game
Story's instincts translate defensively, where he has also earned high praise.
"He has a calmness of the game," Devereaux said. "He controls the game out there with great range and a good arm."
While scouts have also seen flashes of Story's athleticism and range, the 6-foot-1, 175-pound infielder has also been playing a bit of third base. In his debut with Casper in 2011, Story played 30 games at shortstop and 15 games at the hot corner in a time-share arrangement with fellow prospect Rosell Herrera. That same arrangement persisted in 2012, with Story again seeing time at third base. However, Story took over as Asheville's primary shortstop when Herrera got demoted to short-season Tri-City on July 7.
"I'm definitely more comfortable at short because I've played there my whole life," Story said. "But I'm getting a lot more comfortable at third. The angles are definitely a little different. At the hot corner, you get the balls hit pretty hard at you and you don't have a lot of time to react. At short, you have a little more time. I really like playing both positions but I'm more comfortable at short."
While Story has committed 17 errors in his 65 games at shortstop this season, his fielding average at the position improved from .915 last year to .947 this time.
"Defensively he has been very good," Mikulik said. "He has a few errors, but he has made some nice plays and shown nice arm strength. He doesn't use his arm like a (Troy) Tulowitzki, but he uses it when he has to."
Even though he has flashed impressive potential on the basepaths and in the field, Story does his most impressive work in the batter's box.
Story got off to a hot start, belting five home runs in April and then batting .305/.381/.581 with five more homers in May.
Recognizing that McCormick Field is home to a 42-foot-tall right-field wall standing just 297 feet from home plate, Story touched upon the importance of utilizing the opposite field, saying, "I just try to use the opposite field, especially more now this year. It's not too bad to have that short porch in right here."
"The good thing about Trevor is that he uses the whole field," Devereaux said. "He uses the entire field. That is something that is tough to teach at that age, but he came up doing that."
Story has not been immune to slumps, and the youngster ran into one in June, batting just .195/.263/.276 in 87 at-bats. His slump appeared to be the product of an extended period of poor plate discipline, as he struck out 28 times and walked just 6 times in 95 plate appearances.
"Pitchers know where they want to throw it," Story said. "They can execute it pretty well. They don't have to always throw breaking balls for strikes and it can be tough to lay off."
"This is the first time he has played in a long season, so it is a test for him, it's a challenge, but he's accepting it," Mikulik said. "There are times where he is struggling a little bit, and he probably never struggled in his amateur career. He's dealt with it very well."
Story managed the strike zone better in July, regaining the plate discipline that helped him get off to such a good start. He struck out 20 times, walked 19 and batted .296/.410/.582 with 13 doubles.
"I like aggressive hitters and he is aggressive. He is aggressive and patient at the same time," Devereaux said. "He goes up there with a plan and he sticks with that plan. At this level, when we talk about developing players, we want them to understand what they are trying to do at the plate and try and stick with it."
Notably, Story has already begun to tap into the power that many scouts believed he would eventually develop. He had hit seven of 15 homers on the road, suggesting that total is no McCormick mirage.
"His home runs are to all parts of the ballpark—left field, right field, straight away," Devereaux said, "and I honestly believe that he is going to get bigger and stronger."
Although he is still years away from a potential big league career, Story's power development is promising since the Rockies already have Troy Tulowitzki entrenched at shortstop. "Wherever he ends up, shortstop or somewhere else—to me it doesn't really matter," Mikulik said "I think his bat will play at the big league level."
Simply put, Story's future appears bright.
"We're just scratching the surface with him," Devereaux said. "He is 19 right now and he definitely has great demeanor for someone his age. The way I look at it—he's a big league ballplayer."