Lefthander Helcris Olivarez was pitching well in instructional league, which didn’t surprise the Rockies after how the 20-year-old Dominican performed at their alternate training site at Coors Field.
In simulated games there, it didn’t matter if Rockies manager Bud Black happened to be watching, or farm director Zach Wilson or general manager Jeff Bridich.
“He didn’t care about any of that,” Wilson said. “It’s like Coors Field didn’t bother him one little bit. He did not flinch at all, and on top of that, he’s facing a lot of older hitters. It’s like he fit right in.”
After two seasons in the Dominican Summer League, Olivarez began the 2019 season there with Rockies pitching guru Edison Lora to polish a few things in his delivery. Then it was off to Rookie-level Grand Junction in late June.
Olivarez notched a 4.82 ERA in 11 Pioneer League starts with a team-leading 61 strikeouts in 46.2 innings and 47 hits allowed.
Olivarez is 6-foot-3 and about 200 pounds with long limbs and a high waist. He will grow into his body.
“It’s exactly what you want a pitcher to look like, especially at his age,” Wilson said. “And there’s just a looseness to everything he does. Sometimes it gets even too loose to where it gets just a little quick. But when his delivery is on time, and he’s finishing his stuff out front, it is electric.”
Olivarez can flash three plus pitches: a fastball that sits 95-96 mph, an 11-to-5 curveball at 76-78 mph and an 84-86 mph changeup.
“There are some days where his changeup is below-average and he just doesn’t have a feel for it,” Wilson said, “or the curveball is below-average. But then there are days where he puts the whole thing together, and he’s almost unhittable.”
The necessary consistency will come with experience that will make the highly intelligent Olivarez more aware of his release points as he hones a repeatable delivery.
“He’s an unbelievable talent,” Wilson said. “And he’s an advanced talent for a Latin pitcher at his age and experience level.”
— Shortstop/third baseman Ryan Vilade was introduced to first base in instructional league. His soft hands are an asset at the new position, where he’s getting comfortable with the footwork. In games, he played left field, where he has significantly improved his routes and reads and has shown an accurate, playable arm. Vilade, 21, was a second-round pick in 2017 out of Stillwater (Okla.) High.
— Righthander Ryan Feltner was more aggressive with both his 95-97 mph fastball and slider in instructional league. Wilson said Feltner is more in “attack mode” with his fastball and has shown “more sort of gusto behind what he’s doing.” Feltner, 24, was taken in the fourth round in 2018 out of Ohio State.