Rockies catching prospect Jordan Pacheco made the most of a few opportunities during 2010 Spring Training. He hasn't stopped since.
Pacheco, who will turn 25 before next Spring Training, went 7-for-11 with two doubles in 10 Cactus League games. He followed that up with a .323 batting average, six home runs, 89 RBIs and a .405 on-base percentage in 125 total games at Class A Modesto and Double-A Tulsa. The success is continuing in the Arizona Fall League.
Through Thursday, Pacheco has hit .372 (16-for-43) with three doubles, a triple, eight RBIs and a .462 on-base percentage in 12 appearances for the Scottsdale Scorpions.
"This is a good league, because you have to keep your confidence up when you're facing great pitching -- guys throwing hard and guys with dirty stuff coming at you," Pacheco said. "You've got to concentrate on having an approach and taking it out there, whether it's a good day or a bad day. Situational hitting is also something I try to focus on every day."
Pacheco has produced offensively ever since the Rockies selected him in the ninth round out of the University of New Mexico in 2007. Pacheco has hit .310 with a .389 on-base percentage, all while learning a new position.
Pacheco entered pro ball in 2007 as an infielder, but the Rockies felt he could convert to catching and be an offensive force at the position. That's exactly what occurred in 2009, when he hit .322 with 13 homers and 79 RBIs at Class A Asheville, and was chosen the South Atlantic League Most Valuable Player.
"He's a very talented hitter who stays inside the ball very well and has quality at-bats," Rockies player development director Marc Gustafson said. "He has a solid game plan and a lot of confidence."
Pacheco has made gradual improvement defensively.
"He's throwing the ball very well and blocking the ball very well," Gustafson said. "He's developed a routine to work on things. The arm stroke itself is not the same as it is fielding the ball and throwing in the infield, but he's made great strides. He's come a long way. He'll get a chance to work on some of that in the Arizona Fall League."
Pacheco said he is working on his flexibility from the squatted position and feels he has improved. The Fall League has allowed him to relax. The Scorpions are carrying four catchers, so he can play some first base and rest from the rigors of catching.
"I'm more comfortable receiving the ball, blocking the ball and throwing than I was two years ago, but I've still got a little ways to go," Pacheco said. "I think I'm on the right track.
"It's growing on me. I'm a work in progress but I'm learning the game from a completely different perspective than just fielding the baseball."
In other AFL news, two of Pacheco's Scorpions teammates, Rockies relief pitching prospects right-hander Bruce Billings and left-hander Rex Brothers, will play in the AFL Rising Stars Game on Saturday night in Surprise, Ariz. The game, which involves players from every Major League organization, can be seen Saturday at 7 p.m. MT on MLB.com and MLB Network.
Billings is 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA in five relief appearances, and Brothers is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in seven appearances for the Scorpions.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.