Rockies Insider: Players with Colorado ties worth tracking in the Cactus League

Spring training is in full bloom around Phoenix with pitchers and catchers having reported, and position players coming soon.

What players on other Cactus League teams besides the Rockies should Colorado baseball fans keep an eye on? Here’s a look at notable names to watch in Arizona, where exhibition play begins next Friday.

LHP Tyler Anderson, RHP Kevin Gausman, RHP Tyler Rogers, RHP Rico Garcia and INF Cristhian Adames, Giants

San Francisco has the most players with Colorado ties of any Cactus League team. Anderson, a former first-round pick by the Rockies in 2011, is out to prove he still has something left in the tank after knee surgery derailed his 2019 season.

San Francisco also features a couple of local arms in Gausman (Grandview) and Rogers (Chatfield). Plus, ex-Rockies Garcia (who came up through Colorado’s system and made his MLB debut last August) and Adames (who hit .206 across four partial seasons in LoDo) received non-roster invites.

OF Daniel Descalso, LHP Rex Brothers and OF Noel Cuevas, Cubs

The veteran Descalso played 2015 and 2016 in Colorado, slashing .239/.322/.382, but hit just .173 in 82 games for Chicago last year. Meanwhile, Brothers (3.42 ERA from 2011-15 with the Rockies) and Noel Cuevas (who debuted for Colorado in 2018 before electing for free agency in November) both received non-roster invites.

LHP Marco Gonzales, C Tom Murphy and OF Carlos Gonzalez, Mariners

Seattle just signed Gonzales, who pitched Rocky Mountain to four consecutive Class 5A state titles, to a four-year, $30 million contract. The southpaw is coming off a career season with a 3.99 ERA in 34 starts, and is likely to again be the Mariners’ opening day starter.

A pair of ex-Rockies also provide intrigue. Murphy is set up to be Seattle’s starting catcher after being discarded by Colorado following spring training a year ago, and fan favorite Gonzalez will try to stick around as a non-roster invite after 2019 saw him wash out with both the Indians and Cubs.

RHP Jordan Lyles, RHP Juan Nicasio and 1B Greg Bird, Rangers

Lyles pitched for Colorado from 2014-17, putting up a 5.22 ERA in 105 starts. He was good in a limited sample size for Milwaukee last season, going 7-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 11 starts. And while another former Colorado starter in Nicasio seeks to extend his career at 33 years old, former Grandview star and Yankees’ fifth-round draft pick Bird is trying to start a new, healthy chapter of his career in Texas. Both Nicasio and Bird are non-roster invites.