Rockies' Riley Pint Impresses In Comeback From Retirement
“Beyond exceptional” was assistant farm director Jesse Stender’s assessment of righthander Riley Pint in minor league camp.
Pint left the Rockies organization in June and filed retirement papers. But the 24-year-old stayed in touch with his High-A Spokane teammates and farm director Chris Forbes, giving the Rockies reason to think he had not left baseball for good.
Pint returned at the start of minor league camp.
Drafted fourth overall in 2016, Pint threw 100 mph and then some at St. Thomas Aquinas High in Overland Park, Kan., and signed for $4.8 million. He dealt with forearm and oblique injuries early in his career, but control issues mainly held him back.
Pint has run up a 5.56 ERA in 68 career games, including 40 starts before he moved to the bullpen in 2019. He had compiled 163 strikeouts in 166.2 innings but also 134 walks, 58 wild pitches and 21 hit batters.
Last season with Spokane Pint pitched to a 3.38 ERA in 10 games with 10 walks and 17 strikeouts in 10.2 innings. He hit one batter and had three wild pitches. On May 31, he struck out five and walked one in two hitless innings.
And on June 2, in his final appearance before leaving the team, Pint pitched one hitless inning with a walk and a strikeout.
And now he’s back, a 6-foot-5, 225-pound mound presence with a 95-99 mph fastball and 89-92 slider with life and late break. He’s not trying to live up to his vaunted velocity or thinking about mechanics but is just being athletic on the mound.
“He’s got a good feel right now, as good as I’ve seen,” Stender said. “The misses are small. He’s very controlled. He seems comfortable on the mound. He’s attacking the zone, and with his stuff—if he throws it over the plate—hitters don’t have much chance.”
Pint will open the season at Double-A Hartford, ready perhaps to definitively move his career forward.
“Everything that you want to see,” Stender said, “he has come out and done so far.”
—The Rockies named Sterling Monfort director of professional scouting. He had been on the amateur side with the title of assistant director of scouting operations. Monfort will fill the role held by Jon Weil, who was assistant general manager of player personnel and oversaw professional scouting before he and the club had a mutual parting in June.
—Lefthander Sam Weatherly will be sidelined until well into the summer. He was shut down near the start of minor league camp with a stained left teres major, a small muscle that runs from under the armpit to the scapula or shoulder blade. The Rockies third-round pick in 2020 out of Clemson, Weatherly, 22, made his pro debut last year and went 4-6, 4.83 in 15 starts for Low-A Fresno. He struck out 96 batters in 69 innings but issued 32 walks, hit 10 batters and threw six wild pitches.
—A very strong performance in his first major league camp put shortstop Ezequiel Tovar, 20, in line to open the season at Hartford rather than return to Spokane, where he hit .239/.266/.396 in 32 games with four homers and 18 RBIs. Tovar began 2021 at Fresno, where he hit .309/.346/.510 in 72 games with 21 doubles, 11 homers, 54 RBIs and 21 stolen bases. To prepare for the departure of free agent Trevor Story, the Rockies, who see Tovar as their shortstop of the future, signed veteran shortstop Jose Iglesias, 32, to a one-year, $5 million contract.
—Andy Gonzalez was named assistant hitting coach, elevating him to the big league staff in what will be his eighth season in the Rockies organization. He spent the past three seasons as the Rockies camps and fundamentals coordinator. He also was the player development supervisor at Rookie-level Grand Junction from 2017-2019, short-season Boise manager in 2016 and Boise hitting coach in 2015.
Other newcomers to the big league coaching staff include bullpen coach Reid Cornelius, who was the Marlins rehab coach last year, and assistant hitting coach P.J. Pilittere, who was an assistant hitting coach with the Yankees the past four years. Additionally, Darryl Scott, the Rockies bullpen coach the past two seasons, will be the pitching coach. He replaces Steve Foster, who will perform a role similar to Mark Wiley, who was director of pitching and retired. Foster’s new position will provide him occasional time to see his daughter, Lauren, play shortstop for the Wisconsin softball team.