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Rockies' Plan For Willie MacIver Pays Off



In his final season at Washington in 2018, Willie MacIver was limited to 41 games by a broken hamate bone. Most were at third base, one was at catcher.

But when the Rockies drafted MacIver in the ninth round that year, their intent was that he would catch.

That plan paid off at High-A Spokane this season. After 46 games, MacIver was hitting .286/.395/.542 with 10 homers and 30 RBIs, leading to a promotion to Double-A Hartford.

It’s been a big leap forward for MacIver from 2019, when he hit. 252/.319/.421 in 117 games at Low-A Asheville with 13 home runs.

Rockies farm director Chris Forbes, who said MacIver’s power is intriguing and has upside, added he has been able to make adjustments at the plate quicker.

“I think he’s got a lot more conviction in his plan,” Forbes said. “When you’re kind of a young hitter and getting into pro ball, I think the last thing that seems to come with some of these kids is their plan. And what really separates these great hitters (from the rest)—it ends up being plan and approach.”

The 24-year-old MacIver walked 7.1% of the time in 2019, a figure that climbed to 12.4% this season at High-A.

MacIver has also “worked unbelievably hard on his defense,” Forbes said. The result is improved receiving, blocking, throwing, arm strength and game-calling.

Then there is the way the 6-foot-2, 205-pound MacIver is able to relate to whoever he is catching.

“The energy’s infectious, the positivity is really infectious,” Forbes said. “That innate ability to really stay locked in and be emotionally invested in the guy on the mound where (he has) the confidence to throw to him—you can’t put a scout grade on it.

"He is a bag of intangibles. It’s how you would write up a report. He’s a guy to keep an eye on.”

ROCKY ROADS

— The Rockies promoted five pitchers in June. Jake Bird went from Double-A Hartford to Triple-A Albuquerque, David Hill and Ryan Feltner moved from High-A Spokane to Hartford and Will Ethridge and Mitchell Kilkenny went from Low-A Fresno to Spokane. All are righthanded starters except for Bird, who is a reliever.

— As a result of the minor league reorganization before this season, the Rockies are fielding a team in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League for the first time since 2000. They were in that league for nine years before moving their Rookie-level affiliate to the Pioneer League, first to Casper in 2001 and then Grand Junction in 2012. In recent years, the Rockies were the only team in the Pioneer League without an affiliate in the Arizona League.

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