Jordan Pacheco proved last season that he belongs in the big leagues. In his first full year with the Colorado Rockies, he hit .309/.341/.421, with 32 doubles and five home runs. He appeared in 82 games as a third baseman, 43 at as a first baseman, and five as a catcher.
This year he is in spring training with his future in limbo. Todd Helton and Chris Nelson are tentatively slated to man the infield corners, and fellow 2012 rookie Wilin Rosario is behind the plate. The 27-year-old Pacheco has value, but whether he will be a starter or utility player is unclear.
David Laurila: Did you establish yourself as a big leaguer last year?
Jordan Pacheco: Not at all. I don’t think one season does that. I think it helps you for the next year, at least as far as not putting a lot of pressure on yourself. When you first come up, you have a lot to prove. That said, I probably have even more to prove now. I have to show I can do it again, year in and year out. I have to go out and earn a roster spot.
DL: You’ve changed positioned since entering pro ball. Has that held you back?
JP: I don’t think so. I was drafted as a middle infielder and they moved me to catcher, but I’ve been catching for four years. I don’t think it held me back at all. I just think getting to the big leagues is a lot of luck. You have to be in the right place at the right time, and when you get that opportunity, you have to take advantage of it.
DL: How did you go from middle infielder to catcher?
JP: I still don’t know to this day. I do know that [then assistant general manager] Bill Geivett was set on it, and I thank him for giving me that opportunity five years ago. It was tough, but I think it helped me get to where I am now.
DL: Last year you were primarily a corner infielder.
JP: That helped my availability. When guys go down, or need a day off, I can go in there and they don’t have to worry, because I’ve played there before. It’s nothing out of the ordinary for me to play third, first, behind the dish, or even second base.
DL: You’re reportedly going to see more time behind the plate this year. What have you been told?
JP: I don’t think they really know what they want to do yet. I know we want to win and find the best group of guys — the best 25 guys — to help us do that. Hopefully I can prove in spring training that I deserve to be a part of that winning club. That’s all I’m trying to do right now. As far as where I play, I just want a spot on a winning team.
DL: How good of a catcher are you?
JP: I don’t think I’m bad. I receive the ball well and don’t hurt the pitcher too much. It’s knowing your pitcher, and if they like you back there, it gives you more confidence. If I was bad, they wouldn’t still want me behind the dish.
DL: Would your biggest challenge be a lack of familiarity with many of the pitchers?
JP: I went through the minors learning guys I hadn’t caught before. In Triple-A, that included guys who had big-league experience. You definitely need communication. You need to know what makes them feel comfortable, as well what has made them successful over the years.
I don’t know what our staff is going to look like this year, but some of the guys I caught last year, I caught a little bit coming up through the minors. That makes it little easier, knowing what a guy has and how his stuff moves.
DL: How do you compare to Wilin Rosario?
JP: We’re two totally different players. I’m more of an infield guy — a utility guy who can move around the field and play different spots. Wilin is one of the most athletic catchers I’ve ever seen. He has five tools. He’s unbelievable back there, and when he hits it’s a whole different ball game. He does a lot of things better than I do and is definitely a big part of our ball club.
DL: You had 15 home runs in 233 at bats as a college freshman. What happened to that power?
JP: I don’t think anything happened to that power. You become a different hitter every year. You have to grow up and you have to make adjustments. I don’t the think the skip is going to care too much if the winning run is on third and I get him in. It’s not going to matter if I hit the ball out of the park or just get him home.
I’m just trying to make my swing better every day. I’m trying to make it more consistent. If the ball ends up leaving the yard, it ends up leaving the yard. We have plenty of guys who can hit home runs, so I just need to get on base.
DL: Your OBP and walk rate last year were lower than they were in the minor leagues. Do you see them going back up as you gain more experience?
JP: Yes. I think you get smarter as a hitter. When you get up here, you want to be in the lineup the next day, so you want to get hits. That’s what it comes down to. But you make adjustments. Like I said, every year you become smarter. The game slows down with the more experience you get. You learn certain situations better, like when you need to be more aggressive and not so aggressive. Plus, numbers are numbers, How you play the game is what really matters. If we’re winning, everything is good.
DL: Do you think about positional value? Thirty doubles and five home runs as a catcher isn’t the same as it is for a first baseman.
JP: I don’t think about that at all. I play the game because I love to play the game. I play a certain way and just want to help the team win. If I happen to hit a home run, so be it. I’m there to do my job, whether it’s getting a guy over or getting him in. I also want to play good defense. I want to be reliable.
DL: Do you care where you play?
JP: It doesn’t matter. Obviously, the more you play a certain position, the more comfortable you’re going to feel and the better your defense is going be. I just need to make the routine plays and get hits when I need to get hits. I’m like any baseball player in that I want to be consistent. The more consistent you are, the more you’re going to see the field, regardless of where you’re playing.