Rockies Mailbag: Can Nolan Jones rebound? Is Colorado bad at drafting?

Denver Post sports writer Patrick Saunders with the latest installment of his Rockies Mailbag.

Pose a Rockies- or MLB-related question for the Rockies Mailbag.

Was 2023 Nolan Jones’ ceiling? Or did the early season injuries set him too far back?

— Kyle, Thornton

Kyle, I don’t think Jones peaked last season when he slashed .297/.389/.542 with 20 homers and 20 stolen bases in 106 games. He’s an athletically gifted player, and his work ethic is off the charts. He has more to give.

However, the left fielder is struggling (.187/.291/.594, a 34.4% strikeout rate), and it will take him some time to get right. It might even make sense to option him down to Triple-A Albuquerque for a tune-up and a confidence boost. Ultimately, he must show he can hit consistently in the majors. The Rockies have a lot of talented outfielders in the pipeline, so he’ll have competition for a job.

While Jones’ injuries (back and knee) certainly didn’t help him, that’s not the primary reason for his slump. People I’ve talked to within the organization tell me that Jones is working through mechanical issues and is prone to putting too much pressure on himself.

He’s late firing on pitches, is letting too many first-ball strikes go by, and has too many holes in his swing. Plus, the league has a book on him now. His struggles resemble those he endured in Cleveland, so the Guardians were willing to trade him to Colorado.

Having said that, Jones has the right stuff to bounce back. We’ll have to see if he can. I’m rooting for him.

The constant promotional video during Rockies games on TV drives me crazy Can’t they do something else between innings? It’s the same thing, game after game.

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— Anita, Denver

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Anita, I watch a lot of games on Rockies.TV, too. And I’ll admit the videos drive me a little crazy, too. My guess is that the Rockies run those promotional videos because they haven’t sold enough advertising to fill the time between innings.

If the Rockies start winning, that would change.

The videos are well-done montages, but they sure get stale when they’re shown over and over.

As terrible as this sounds, might the Rockies reach 110 losses this season?

— Ed Helinski, Auburn, N.Y.

Ed, as I write this, the Rockies are on pace to finish 57-105. As I wrote in my recent Rockies Journal, I think the Rockies will likely lose 100 games for the second consecutive season. However, I don’t think they’ll lose 110.

But it doesn’t matter what their final tally is because the main purpose of the second half of the season should be to give their young players experience and a chance to grow. And for the organization to evaluate that talent.

That could mean more losses. Many fans will hate that approach, but the Rockies have to bite the bullet.

Will Ryan McMahon, Cal Quantrill and/or Elias Diaz be moved? Will they try to move Kris Bryant’s contract?

— Jacob, New York

Jacob, I’ve written about the trade possibilities before, but I’ll do a quick review. I would be shocked if McMahon (a first-time All-Star) is traded. I’d be mildly surprised if the Rockies dealt Quantrill, but not shocked. I think Diaz will be traded. I also think there’s a chance that second baseman Brendan Rodgers is dealt.

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As for Bryant, there is no way the Rockies can trade him unless they were to eat a lot of money on the contract.

Fire Bud Black now and hire Vinny Castilla or Warren Schaeffer! Not that it will make any difference in the win/loss column, nobody could, but they need to change the attitude and atmosphere in the locker room. This is a loser’s locker room with a losing manager, they need to change the vibe!

— A.J. Mt. Juliet, Tenn.

A.J, how do you know it’s a “loser’s locker room?” By the way, I prefer “clubhouse” to “locker room” for baseball.

The Rockies are a bad team, no question about it. But their vibe inside the clubhouse is actually pretty good. Is there frustration? Sure. Do the Rockies need more talent? Absolutely. However, the environment is not toxic, and Black should get some credit for that.

As for making Castilla the manager, I don’t see that happening. He’s a consultant and a bridge between the front office and players. He’s very tight with the players, especially the Latin players. Too tight, in fact, to be the players’ boss.

Schaffer has a bright future, but I don’t think now is the time for him to replace Black.

Hi Patrick, regarding your article on the Rockies’ draft prospects over the past 10 years, how do the Rockies compare to other well-run and competent organizations? Big market (L.A., N.Y.) or small (Tampa Bay, Milwaukee)? Do other teams have a better track record?

Given the Rockies’ nonsensical belief that they are a draft and develop organization, it doesn’t seem as if any of their prospects from the last 10 years are stars, especially considering how many high draft picks they’ve had. Who was their last bona fide draft prospect that became a legitimate perennial all-star? Even Arenado seems less legitimate now that he’s no longer playing at Coors Field (or he’s getting older). Todd Helton? Are they 1 for 200 or so in properly evaluating talent?

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— Joe, Denver

Wow, Joe, that’s a lot to chew on. I don’t have time to explore all of your questions, but I’ll give you some snapshots:

• According to a recent study by Baseball America, the Rockies rank 23rd out of 30 when it comes to drafting and developing pitchers.

• Kyle Newman, my Denver Post colleague, did a deep dive into the Rockies’ draft-and-develop philosophy as part of our “Rockie Way” project last fall. He found that while the Rockies matched up pretty well in overall draft production vs. the rest of the National League West, the Rockies have failed to develop enough high-impact players over the last decade.

According to a recent story, the Rockies’ farm system was ranked 12th by USA Today, 19th by FanGraphs and eighth by Bleacher Report.

• Trevor Story, now with the Red Sox but out for the season with an injury, was a great pick (45th overall in 2011), as was Arenado (second round, 2009). But I think it’s fair to say that the Rockies haven’t hit a lot of home runs with their early picks in the draft.

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