Rookie Minor Leaguers Still Eyeing Playoff Spot
~ by Trevor Phipps ~
The Rocky Mountain Vibes started their first season in the Pikes Peak region this year, taking the place of the former Colorado Springs Sky Sox, which have moved to San Antonio, Texas.
Even with the change in format, the team is still part of the Milwaukee Brewers’ family, only serving a different role than before.
The Vibes are a rookie Pioneer League team that didn’t start season play until mid-June.
Last week, the Pioneer League held its all-star break. The Vibes have encountered some ups and downs during their inaugural season in Colorado. Despite their streaky record, the Vibes still have a chance to make it to the playoffs.
According to Travis Arnold, the director of public and media relations at the Rocky Mountain Vibes, the Pioneer League level of play features a split-season playoff format. This means that even if a team did not do well in the first half of the season, they can come back and still make the playoffs with a strong second half of play.
“Even if you have a really poor start to the season or a tough finish you can still make the playoffs,” Arnold said. “And while we had a decent first half, it wasn’t enough to clinch the first-half playoff spot. While our overall record might not reflect it, we are very much still in the hunt for a playoff spot in the second half. It looks like it’s going to come between us and the Grand Junction Rockies and we play them the last eight games of the season.”
The Vibes finished the first half of the season in third place in their division with a 17-21 record. Currently, the Vibes are just teetering a little lower than a .500 record in the second half of the season, and are in third place. But they are close to the second place Rockies.
According to Arnold, the second half of the season is worth watching due to the number of star players that are on the roster. He said that it has been surprising as to which players ended up being the ones that shined this summer.
“This has definitely been an interesting season in the sense that the highly touted guys that were higher round draft picks have been playing less,” Arnold stated. “They haven’t been playing poorly; they just haven’t been getting a lot of at bats. So, we have had a lot of surprise dark horse players that have been a pleasant surprise.”
Arnold cited the play of Antonio Pinero, who was the team’s starting short stop for the first half of the season. He played so well that after the first half of the season, he got called up to the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, moving up to the next step of minor league baseball play.
The team’s media relations director also said that Bryan Torres has been a “spark plug” for their team. “He is currently leading the Vibes in a lot of offensive categories including batting average, hits, stolen bases, and on base percentage,” Arnold said. “He has been a great utility infielder guy that has some pretty good speed and he swings the bat pretty well. He just had a four-hit night the other night. He has definitely been one that has been pretty great.”
He also said that the team has a couple of pitchers that are doing quite well this year. He said that reliever Brady Schanuel is leading the team in strike outs and wins right now.
Another pitcher, Karson Lindell, has made a great comeback this season. The Milwaukee Brewers drafted Lindell in 2015 and then he was released at the end of the 2017 season. According to Arnold, Lindell spent the entire 2018 season not pitching professionally but he kept working on his skills.
At the beginning of the 2019 season, Lindell was able to get his fastball back to 95 miles per hour and he got re-signed by the Brewers. “He has been a rock for us all season,” Arnold said. He has played so well that we was invited to the all-star game, and did pitch in the contest.
After the all-star break in the beginning of August, the Vibes hit the road and played a several away games. This Saturday, the Vibes return to town and play a home game stint.
The team’s media relations director said that there are several games ahead that spectators can still enjoy. He said that during the week the Vibes offer $2 Tuesdays, $3 Thursdays, and fireworks on Fridays.
This Saturday at the Vibes game is dubbed Army vs. Air Force night and color guards will make an appearance as well as flyovers from military aircraft.
The Vibes’ season ends the first week of September, following a series with Grand Junction.