How Colorado products have fared in MLB this season

With the 2020 season nearly a third of the way in the books, a number of Colorado products are making noise in the big leagues again this year.

Through Monday’s games, 11 players with state ties have seen action, including a few household names and three MLB debuts. Ten of those players are pitchers and several of those veteran arms are putting up strong early-season showings for their respective clubs.

Marco Gonzales, who signed a four-year, $30 million deal with the Mariners in February, is 2-1 with a 3.06 ERA through three starts for the Mariners. Seattle is expecting him to continue to be its ace going forward, and a few outings into his big deal, it appears the former Rocky Mountain High School star who pitched the Lobos to four state titles is indeed on that track.

Here in Denver, Kyle Freeland is showing the makings of a comeback campaign after his 2019 season went off the rails. The Thomas Jefferson graduate is 2-0 with a 2.41 ERA through three starts heading into Tuesday night’s outing against the Diamondbacks at Coors Field. He’s pitching like he took his failures last year personally, and a revamped arsenal featuring a dangerous changeup has Freeland getting the weak contact he induced throughout a dominant 2018.

Bullpen veteran and three-time all-star Mark Melancon is getting it done through five appearances for Atlanta, with a win, a spotless 0.00 ERA and an impressive 0.80 WHIP to match. And how about the right-hander’s longevity? The 35-year-old Golden product is in his 13th year in the big leagues and his second with Atlanta, with prior stops in New York (he made his debut with the Yankees in 2009), Houston, Boston, Pittsburgh, Washington and San Francisco.

Others not new to the big leagues this year include Cubs infielder David Bote, the only positional player from Colorado to play in the majors so far in 2020. Bote agreed to a five-year, $15 million contract prior to 2019, but then struggled throughout the year and was demoted a couple of times to Triple-A. The former Faith Christian star is slashing .208/.321/.500 with two homers in nine games for Chicago this season.

Additionally, former Grandview star Kevin Gausman is in his eighth year in the bigs. The right-hander is with the Giants, his third club in as many seasons, and is 0-1 with a 4.05 ERA in four games (three starts) for San Francisco. Also with the Giants is Tyler Rogers, who has already made nine appearances (an NL-high) but has an 11.88 ERA. The right-handed submariner made his debut last August, while his twin brother, southpaw Taylor Rogers, is in his second season as the Twins’ closer and has converted four of five opportunities so far.

Pierce Johnson also deserves mention, and a hat tip, for his comeback. The 29-year-old, a Faith Christian alum like Bote, was a first-round pick by the Cubs out of Missouri State in 2012. The right-hander finally reached the majors with Chicago in 2017, but pitched just one inning for the franchise. He played for San Francisco in 2018, appearing in 37 games, before spending last season pitching in Japan, where a tidy 1.38 ERA in 58 games for the Hanshin Tigers earned him another shot in the majors.

And to round out the state’s 2020 big leaguers, right-handers Brandon Bailey (Broomfield) and Jordan Holloway (Ralston Valley) both made their debuts on July 26, for the Astros and Marlins, respectively. And left-hander David Peterson, who starred at Regis Jesuit, made his debut two days later for the Mets. Peterson earned a win in his first start, beating the Red Sox at Fenway Park. With Marcus Stroman opting out, New York manager Luis Rojas immediately cited the 24-year-old as someone who will step up to fill the void in Stroman’s absence.