Communication key to Rockies' system
Colorado's top-to-bottom attention honored by magazine
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Proof of the quality of the Rockies' Minor League system showed in the production of a mostly homegrown lineup and pitching staff during the team's march to a National League championship.But the reasons for the success of the Rockies, who have been named Baseball America's organization of the year -- the top award that the magazine hands out each year -- go well beyond the players. A team that started at least five and on some occasions eight players either drafted or signed by the club is the product of a top-to-bottom, detailed attention. "Our story is one that started many years ago -- it's one that's about patience, it's about perseverance, it's about faith, it's about leadership, and it's about relationships," Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd said at the magazine's awards gala Tuesday. Here are some of the ways the Rockies maintain their priorities: Attention from the Major League manager: Clint Hurdle hasn't forgotten that he managed for six seasons in the Mets organization and served as the Rockies' Minor League hitting instructor before joining manager Don Baylor's staff with the Rockies in 1997. Several of his policies illustrate his emphasis on the Minor League program. After the Minor Leaguers report to Spring Training, on some days Hurdle or any of the coaches are nowhere near the Major Leaguers. "Each Major League coach spends at least one day in Minor League camp, and it starts with Clint," Rockies player development director Marc Gustafson said. "He's a Minor Leaguer at heart." Hurdle also takes the unusual step of filing a report after each Major League game for the front office, all members of the Minor League staff, all of the coaches and the scouting department. It gives Hurdle a chance to go through the game, then clear his mind. But it also gives the Minor League personnel a chance to contribute. "Sometimes one of the coaches will call and say, 'Hey, I saw this,' with one of the guys they've worked with," Hurdle said during the regular season. "Sometimes, we'll ask them to keep an eye on players they've had or have some history with, a little more familiarity, in case we're overlooking something."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.