Jordan Pacheco Joins 'From Phenom To The Farm:' Episode 50
Albuquerque, New Mexico native Jordan Pacheco grew up rooting for his hometown University of New Mexico Lobos. His love was mainly focused on the school’s basketball teams and attending home games in their legendary arena, The Pit.
Pacheco’s athletic skills though geared him more towards baseball, and the two-way star had top college programs from around the country calling to woo him away from his home state. The only problem was for Pacheco, those schools were calling about his arm, and not his bat.
“They just wanted me to pitch," said Pacheco. "I wanted to play, I wanted to hit—UNM was literally the only one that was going to let me do that, so it made my choice pretty easy."
Letting Pacheco swing it proved to be a wise decision for both player and university. He hit .408 as a freshman and would go on to become one of the greatest players in program history, capping his run with the Lobos by winning Mountain West Conference Player of the Year in 2007. The bat-first second baseman was then selected by the Rockies in the 9th round of the 2007 draft.
After a solid professional debut after signing, Pacheco seemed ticketed to begin his first full professional season in Low-A. However, on the last day of spring training 2008, a spring in which he’d played all around the infield, Pacheco was directed to the office of then-VP of Scouting Bill Schmidt.
"Sat me down and said 'you're going to be a catcher,'" said Pacheco. "I said 'Do I have a choice?' and he said 'Nope, you're going to stay here and be a catcher."
Pacheco was held back in extended spring training to begin learning how to catch, a position he detested from the get-go. A brutal summer in the short-season Northwest League ensued, as Pacheco and catching mixed like oil and water.
"The glimmer of hope was the last game of the season when I put all of my catchers gear in a trash can and I lit it on fire in the outfield," said Pacheco. "That was my highlight of my season."
Despite the grandiose gesture, Colorado wasn’t done with Pacheco behind the dish. He had to secure new gear for that fall’s instructs, and in grappling with how he was going to make it to the big leagues realized he needed to secure a new outlook on catching as well.
"Eventually something kinda clicked and I was like 'Ok, I've gotta do this, I've gotta go for it," said Pacheco. "I got with our catching coordinator for a couple offseasons and said 'Hey man, I need to get better, what can I do?'"
Towards the end of the 2011 Triple-A season in which he’d hit .278 catching for Colorado Springs, Pacheco got the call every player dreams of. He was heading to the big leagues—but starting at 3rd base, a position he’d played sparingly on his climb through the minors.
Thus began the super-utility phase of Pacheco’s career—slotting in at whatever defensive position the Rockies needed at the time. During his six years in the big leagues Pacheco saw time at catcher, all infield spots aside from shortstop, and left field.
Aside from his 2012 rookie season, in which he’d hit .309, none of Pacheco’s career in the big leagues featured consistent playing time. Moving around spots and irregular at-bats eventually eroded his offensive impact, eventually leading to being designated for assignment by the Rockies in 2014.
Stints with Arizona and Cincinnati followed, but Pacheco found himself headed back down the professional baseball ladder—a much different experience than his time as a prospect.
"It was a real ego-check for me, and once I was able to put that aside and get rid of that ego, man I enjoyed Triple-A baseball the last few times I got to play it," said Pacheco. "I enjoyed the guys, just enjoyed being at the baseball field and helping guys out, just watching them get called up—I actually got to feel a part of that."
Pacheco finished up his career with 39 games in the Atlantic League during the 2021 season, and will begin a coaching career in 2022, bringing everything full circle back to Albuquerque as the hitting coach for the Triple-A Isotopes.
On the latest episode of ‘From Phenom to the Farm’ former big league catcher and 2007 Mountain West Conference Player of the Year Jordan Pacheco joins. He talks playing college ball in his hometown, the difficult conversion to catching as a pro, and what a good hitting coach can bring to a ballclub.