SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Texan Sam Hilliard looks like a marshal in a Western swaggering through the swinging doors of a bar before confronting the nefarious town villain.
Think: Gary Cooper-like at 6-foot-5, 238 pounds with a tanned, sculptured GQ cover body.
Hilliard, who turned 26 last Thursday, is, in real life, an outfielder.
Just think: Sam “The Bam’’ hit more home runs (42) last season than Rox Charlie Blackmon (32), Trevor Story (35) or even Nolan Arenado (41). Hilliard is a Blake Street Slammer-in-development. He walloped 35 homers in 126 games with the Albuquerque Isotopes and seven more in the final 27 games with the Rockies. At Triple-A and with the big-league club Hilliard also had 33 doubles, 24 stolen bases, nine triples, 114 RBIs and 122 runs scored.
This spring he’s challenging for a roster spot on the 2020 Rockies. You think?
In the clubhouse the other morning I asked Hilliard how many of the five baseball tools — speed, power hitting, hitting for average, defensive ability and arm strength — he possesses.
“All five,’’ he instantly replied.
No brag, just fact.
I wondered how long it took for him to become accustomed to the major leagues after being called up for the first time Aug. 27 of last year.
“Well, in my first game I hit a homer’’ — his first major-league hit, off Red Sox pitcher Josh Smith. “And I had another in my third game, so I thought I…