Overlook Tony Two-Baggage, or T-Dubs.
You desire a nickname that actually will get to the center of who Tony Wolters is as a participant, and the grinding behind his all-star-caliber season?
It’s a moniker the Rockies catcher earned from teammates as a rookie in 2016 for his tendency to hold round a fats stack of highlighted, marked-up scouting stories. And it’s one which, throughout Wolters’ breakout season, epitomizes the maturation of a former prime prospect right into a bonafide, on a regular basis major-leaguer.
“He’s improved in a number of other ways, and all of it goes again to his preparation and his work ethic,” Rockies catching coach Mike Redmond mentioned. “The way in which he blocks (the ball) to avoid wasting runs, the way in which he receives, the way in which he’s continued to enhance every year whether or not statistically, it reveals it or not. The influence he has on our workforce is big, as a result of he’s been a difference-maker in the way in which he performs protection and the way in which he controls our (pitching) workers.”
His bat has out of the blue clicked, too.
Wolters, who hit a team-low .170 final 12 months, is hitting .305 with one house run, 23 RBIs and a .376 on-base share heading into the weekend. After serving primarily in a back-up position the previous a number of seasons, Wolters’ surge enabled him to overhaul opening day starter Chris Iannetta for the No. 1 catching spot early this season.
“That is who he’s, and I believed that is who he was final 12 months and the years earlier than that whereas taking part in towards him,” Iannetta mentioned. “Offensively, he struggled final 12 months, however anyone who’s performed the sport has struggled … So I don’t see his efficiency this season as a soar, I see it as a return to who he’s.”
A 27-year-old former third-round draft choose by the Indians in 2010 out of Rancho Buena Vista Excessive (Vista, Calif.), Colorado claimed Wolters off waivers in February 2016 after Cleveland designated him for project. Since then, the transformed infielder’s endeared himself to each the LoDo fanbase and the Colorado pitching workers together with his plus-defense.
“His pitch-calling has grown very assured, and I do know there’s quite a lot of finding out behind that. There’s not too many instances I discover myself second-guessing what he’s placing down,” setup man Scott Oberg mentioned. “That, together with the pitch-blocking capacity and the actual fact he’s throwing quite a lot of guys out (at a 34 p.c clip), he does all of the issues an all-star catcher does.”
Whereas Wolters undoubtedly didn’t get a lot love from followers within the all-star poll — he completed seventh within the main spherical, over 1.2 million votes behind first-place Willson Contreras of the Cubs — Rockies supervisor Bud Black believes the catcher’s profile is beginning to rise across the sport.
“I believe he was underrated, for positive, in (all-star voting),” Black mentioned. “Tony’s a little bit bit below the radar, however these coaches and managers I’ve talked to appreciate Tony’s rising on all people … He’s beginning to get acknowledged a little bit bit from individuals inside the sport.”
That recognition — little question helped out by his notable game-winning hit within the 13th inning of Colorado’s wild-card win towards the Cubs at Wrigley Area final October — has additionally been accelerated by Wolters’ refined offensive method, which has led to his large spike in common.
Particularly, Wolters made slight changes to his stance and hand positioning and paired these technical tweaks with an all-fields, line-drive method.
“I had an open stance, so I labored on attending to the place I’m not open as a lot,” Wolters mentioned. “I could be a tick open this 12 months, however I’m extra straight on, extra on my legs and I’m making an attempt to maintain my head as nonetheless as potential. I’ve stayed with that method, and I’ve been cussed in direction of it, and that introduced me quite a lot of confidence this 12 months.”
Wolters has additionally emerged as an emotional cog for a Rockies workforce that has been on a roller-coaster.
Proper-handed starter Jon Grey famous the catcher’s “physique language has turn out to be rather a lot completely different. You possibly can inform he believes he’s a pacesetter on the market, which he’s.”
Iannetta mentioned, “Beside from house runs, he’s out-performing virtually all people (for Nationwide League catchers). He deserves a nod, as a result of he needs to be rewarded for the season he’s having. He’s having an all-star season.”
Whether or not Wolters can earn a spot at July ninth’s sport at Progressive Area in Cleveland will depend upon the participant/coach poll, which selects the reserves. Both manner, Wolters mentioned his consideration stays on serving to Colorado attain the playoffs for a 3rd consecutive season.
“I’m blessed to name this stunning sport of baseball my job,” he mentioned. “The workforce success is all I’m centered on. There’s additionally room for particular person development, and I really feel like I’m taking the mandatory actions to continue to grow in my sport. I’m planning on taking part in for some time.”