Rockies' Trejo in starting lineup less than two days after getting to GJ
Alan Trejo came to Grand Junction to play ball.
Just more than 24 hours after arriving in town, he was in the opening night starting lineup Monday night for the Grand Junction Rockies.
The Colorado Rockies’ 16th-round draft pick out of San Diego State had a couple of weeks off after the season ended in the NCAA regionals, plenty of time to have him eager to play, even if he hadn’t had much time to get acclimated.
“I was hoping I was going to be in the lineup; I didn’t want to sit, so my wish came true,” said Trejo, who started at shortstop for the Rockies.
Trejo is certainly used to being an everyday player — he started all three years at San Diego State, playing shortstop and second base. He also pitched for the Aztecs, and actually expected to be drafted as a pitcher. Trejo was 2-2 with one save this season with 15 strikeouts and two walks in 18 2/3 innings out of the bullpen.
“Obviously it was very stressful,” Trejo said of the draft. “I got a couple of calls early in the sixth, seventh, eighth rounds and they didn’t go my way. I was going to go as a pitcher and it worked out that I got drafted as a shortstop by the Rockies. I didn’t think I was going to go in the 16th, but it happened and I’m happy I’m here.
“I wanted to play infield as long as I could, swing the bat, and it worked out. But if they were going to pay me the money to pitch, I was going to be (open to) that, too.”
Most of the players in Monday night’s lineup have been with the Rockies through extended spring training, and manager Frank Gonzales said as the late arrivals out of the draft get their feet under them, they’ll move into the lineup.
One of those players is Nic Motley, who returned to Grand Junction on Friday after playing in the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series only a couple of weeks ago. Motley, a catcher, was drafted in the 14th round out of McLennan Community College (Texas) and instead of going to Virginia Tech, opted to turn pro.
He was already playing summer baseball in the Northwoods League in Wisconsin, and not long after being drafted on Tuesday, packed up his car and started driving to Grand Junction.
“The first thing the scout I talked to the most told me was, ‘You’re going to be heading back to Grand Junction,’ ’’ Motley said. “That was comforting, knowing I was going to come back to a familiar place.
“One thing is, we met a bunch of people up here, our host for our team and the people with the Challenger league, so that’s comforting. If I ever need somebody, some help, there are people out here that I know, that I’ve met. Just knowing what the scenery looks like, what the altitude is like, it was nice to know. It wasn’t a shock coming in.”
Trejo is used to playing at sea level, but he’s no stranger to baseball at altitude, because the Aztecs play Air Force every season in the Mountain West Conference.
“We know how the ball flies in Colorado and if it catches any wind it’s gonna go,” he said. “It might play a little different with the wood bats, but the ball’s gonna fly a little bit.”
In the second inning, Trejo showed he was anything but rusty, making a slick play fielding a ball hit behind the bag at second base and easily throwing out the runner to end the inning.
“I want to work on hitting the ball deeper, driving the ball a little bit more, especially with the wood bat,” said Trejo, who hit .332 with 17 doubles and four home runs for San Diego State this spring. “From there, the defensive part, get a little work at short, become more athletic, gain some weight and try to hit the ball out of the park eventually.”
Motley knows how it feels to hit the ball out of Suplizio Field — he hit one home run for the Highlanders during JUCO.
He was the bullpen catcher Monday and, like Trejo, is eager to get started.
“They want to make sure I know all the signs, but I’ll be getting my opportunity soon enough,” Motley said.
Gonzales was almost as eager as his players to get started. With so many players arriving over the weekend, several were still taking physicals Monday.
“It’s a full, or almost an over-full clubhouse right now,” he said. “I’d rather have that than not having players. The biggest thing for us is going out and competing. We’re not going to be perfect.
“Relaxing, trying to play the game and turn it into another day at the ballpark is the hope.”