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Young gun Vilade continues climb with ’Topes

Isotopes left fielder Ryan Vilade rounds second base against the Sugar Land Skeeters Friday night at Isotopes Park. He went 1-for-3 with a run scored in a 10-3 loss. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

Ryan Vilade is the baby of the bunch this season for the Albuquerque Isotopes.

But the highly regarded 22-year-old Colorado Rockies prospect hardly needs much help getting comfortable around a minor league park.

In fact, Vilade, who went 1-for-4 with a run scored in a 10-3 loss to the Sugar Land Skeeters on Friday night at Isotopes Park, has probably logged as many hours at a minor league ball park as many of his much older teammates.

Even before the 2017 second-round draft pick out of Stillwater (Okla.) High School in 2017 made stops with three teams in between 2017 and 2019 and was a part of the Rockies’ 2020 alternative-training site team in Denver, he pretty much grew up in the clubhouse of the Double-A Frisco (Texas) RoughRiders.

“I was there every night because my dad was a coach,” said Vilade. “I was in the locker room, a batboy. I was there once school ended to once school started every summer.”

His dad was later a coach at Oklahoma State University, where Vilade committed to play out of high school, but instead opted to sign with the Rockies after being drafted as an infielder.

A year ago, the 6-foot-2 Vilade was moved to outfield, and the No. 4 rated prospect in the Rockies organization according to continues that transition now with the Isotopes. His hitting has not been the question. He’s a career .291 hitter with a .370 on-base percentage and in two games with the ‘Topes is 2-for-7 with three walks drawn and two runs scored.

“I just need to continue to work on having good at bats — quality at bats,” Vilade said of his goals with the Isotopes. “Also, getting more comfortable in the outfield with the switch from infield to outfield. … I think with the outfield, I can go out there and be a great outfielder on the corners.”

Vilade played left field in each of his first two games this week with the Isotopes, recording an error in Thursday’s opener and, while he didn’t have an error on Friday, got in plenty of work and had one play in the top of the sixth that he took a poor route to a ball in left-centerfield that was ruled a double by Sugar Land second baseman C.J. Hinojosa, who would later score in the inning.

“He just needs experience. He needs reps,” Isotopes manager Warren Schaeffer said. “You saw it tonight a little bit out there in left field. The thin air here in Albuquerque, it will be good for him to learn here before he gets to Denver. The ball staying up a little longer, taking off a little bit on a line drive.

“He’s all about learning. That’s great. That’s the path we’re going to go down here. This is all about developing him in the outfield.”

STAMETS: The ‘Topes lost 9-4 in a 3 hour, 51 minute opener on Thursday. Friday, down seven with one out in the 9th inning of a 3 hour, 43 minute game, Albuquerque’s No. 9 hitter, short stop Eric Stamets, legged out an infield grounder that seemed to have little chance of him being called safe.

And while he was, in fact, called out, it was a call close enough to bring on boos from the fans and plenty of praise from Schaeffer.

“I love that. That’s what I expect from him,” Schaeffer said. “He plays hard all the time.”

So did the manager think his infielder was safe or out? In that circumstance, he didn’t actually care about the call.

“It doesn’t matter,” Schaeffer said. “He legged it out in the ninth down seven runs, man, I’m all about that. That’s what this team should be about.”

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