This is part two as I delve into the Rockies farm system. Here we take a glimpse at the Rockies High-A club, the Spokane Indians, and their endearing home Avista Stadium. Thank you to my gracious cousin Joe Gasperi, for hosting his old pal on such short notice. Spokane is a gem of a sports city tucked away in scenic and cordial eastern Washington.
The Spokane Indians were named MiLB’s 2021 Organization of the Year. After spending one delightful afternoon in their home ballpark, I would contend the recognition was well deserved!
Avista Stadium, Indians’ employees, and the city of Spokane all were simply delightful hosts! The stadium opened in 1958, as the new AAA home of the recently relocated Los Angeles Dodgers. The enticing smells and the picturesque sight lines of the park remind visitors of an earlier era. The covered grandstands, the multiple outdoor concession stands, and the boxcar in right field, all provide the park with a wonderfully authentic old-school-good-times feel.
Friendly smiles and welcoming greetings are the norm. Right field is particularly welcoming for hitters, as the right field foul pole is listed at a cozy 296 feet from home plate, along with a right-center power alley of 365. Even Ribby the Redbound (Rally) trout is one example of a loveable and engaging fan-friendly mascot.
The Indians have collaborated with the local tribe, The Spokane Tribe of Indians, to honor and celebrate some of the ancient native traditions. The team has an alternate-style jersey, representing the tribe’s colors and use of the native “Salish” language. The “Operation Fly Together” coordinates with the nearby Fairchild Air Force Base, raising funds and developing projects that benefit the Base and local military veterans. On occasion, modern day trains can be seen beyond the outfield–representing the city’s large and integral rail yard.
In recent years, Spokane’s highly successful men’s basketball Gonzaga Bulldogs have helped put Spokane on the national sports scene map. Many of the Indians employees I spoke with, including the uber-helpful Bud Bareither, Director of Public Relations, share a connection to the university. Thus, it is only fitting that the Rockies’ first round pick of the 2022 MLB Draft (10th overall) would be a former local Zags ace, 6-4 right handed hurler Gabriel Hughes. The All-American Hughes racked up 138 K’s in 98 innings and immediately moves near the top of the list in regards to Colorado’s elite prospects. Ideally, Hughes will spend some time honing his craft in front of his familiar Spokane friends.
Currently, the Indians feature many of my Prospects1500 Top 50 Rockies prospects. Catcher Drew Romo (#5), infielder Warming Bernabel (#7), catcher/first baseman Hunter Goodman (#13), and pitcher LHP Joe Rock (#14). Other names to keep an eye on include pitchers Andrew Quezada (9-1, 3.89 as of 8/25); Adam McKillican (38.2 IP, 1.63 ERA, 44 K), and recently promoted Case Williams (9-2, 4.22 ERA, 16 games started, 90 K in 89.1 IP at Fresno). Outfielder Zac Veen (#2), was also just recently promoted to the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats.
The Indians finished the first half of the Northwest League season with a respectable 34-30 season, and as of August 25 stand at 26-24 in the second half. Similar to the situation in Fresno, the Rockies have compiled a solid number of talented prospects moving through Spokane.
Try the bang-for-your buck Operation Fly Together Tanker Nachos or the foot-long hot dog. The German Dog and the Chicken Pesto sandwich are some of the other local favorites.
Where to Sit
The view behind home plate is fantastic, however, if you want something a little different, I recommend the right field line. Along with the quaint and inviting short porch in right field, the Indians bullpen lies cozily snuggled along the stands, and there is a great look at Coors Light BoxCar. Bring your glove!
I recommend catching another Northwest League game while visiting Spokane, or perhaps as we did, taking in an MLB game in the “Emerald City” of Seattle, Washington. Similar to my fondness for Avista Stadium, T-Mobile Park is a wonderful venue to spend a summer evening! How about that for an idea for next summer when Seattle hosts All-Star Week? You can bet Prospects1500 will be on hand for the Futures Game, the MLB Draft and more!