Jordan Pacheco has come a long way in the last four years.
Back then he was patrolling Isotopes Park as the starting second baseman for the New Mexico Lobos, hoping to get drafted.
Now he is the starting catcher for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, one step away from the Major Leagues.
“I feel good where I’m at right now,” Pacheco said from the visitors’ dugout at Isotopes Park on Tuesday afternoon. “Obviously I’ve gotten off to a slow start but just being able to learn this pitching staff. This team, we’re kind of up and down, we need to get on a winning streak.”
Pacheco enjoyed a breakout 2010 campaign, batting .323 with six home runs, 89 RBI and a .405 on-base percentage between Single-A Modesto and Double-A Tulsa. So far this season, he has hit .275 (30-for-109) with one homer and 13 RBI in 29 games.
Sky Sox manager Stu Cole said Pacheco still has a lot to learn for a Triple-A catcher, mainly due to the fact Pacheco did not start catching until the 2009 season.
“Right now he’s making some progress,” Cole said. “We knew it’s going to be an on-the-job learning type of deal with him behind the plate, handling the pitching staff. He’s done a better job with it, but there’s still a lot of work with his throwing, his blocking techniques, stuff like that.
“It’s not easy to learn at this level (but) he’s learning, he’s getting better every day.”
Pacheco agreed with his manager’s assessment.
“I’ve just gotta be able to handle a pitching staff, guys that have been in the big leagues,” Pacheco said. “Learn the game more, just being more mental behind the plate. As far as my approach at the plate, hitting-wise, I think I’ve got a little ways to go but it’s not too far, I hope.”
Pacheco first caught the eyes of the Rockies’ upper management with his strong play for Colorado during two exhibition games at Isotopes Park last season. Manager Jim Tracy was especially impressed, since at the time Pacheco had only spent one season behind the plate.
“There’s no telling how high the ceiling could get for this young man,” Tracy said last April. “To embrace the change we’ve asked him to make and make the progress he’s made in such a short period of time is really, really remarkable and says a lot about him as an individual.”
Cole said Pacheco only strengthened his status with the organization during spring training this March.
“He went to big-league camp this year and opened some eyes on the big-league staff and in the front office,” Cole said. “That gave him the chance to start the season down in Triple-A.”
Pacheco said that so far he is enjoying most aspects of life in the Pacific Coast League.
“It’s been good (but) it’s different, we’ve got a lot of veterans on this team,” Pacheco said. “A lot of guys that have big-league time. It’s been a learning experience. I’ve just known to keep my mouth shut and keep my ears open.”
Pacheco did enjoy playing in front of a lot of familiar faces in the stands on Monday night, something that does not happen too often in Colorado Springs.
“It’s a little different, you look up in the stands and you see a bunch of people you went to school with and a bunch of your family,” he said. “But at the same time you’ve got a job to do. Hopefully I’m professional about it when I go about my business.”
Pacheco said his business right now is to help the Sky Sox win, not worry about any potential call-up to Denver.
“Obviously that’s in the back of my mind, that’s the goal,” he said. “If I didn’t think I could play at that level, I wouldn’t be playing right now. I’m still a little ways away, I’ve got a lot of things to work on, little things. Hopefully I get them all worked out soon and get this team on a winning track.”
Pacheco and the Sky Sox will continue their series in Albuquerque through Thursday.