Things are starting to come together for Trent Fennell.
The Triton alumnus has bounced around the Colorado Rockies’ farm system in his two seasons since being drafted in the 24th round in 2018, playing for five of the Rockies’ six minor league affiliates. But now he’s finally starting to settle in with the Class A Asheville Tourists after earning his first two starts of the season.
Fennell may have taken the loss in his first outing with the Tourists on July 28 against the Hickory Crawdads, but he pitched well. He cruised through the first three innings without allowing a run, giving up just one hit and two walks while striking out three. He then ran into trouble in the fourth as he struggled with command, giving up four earned runs.
“It went pretty well early on, I was feeling pretty good,” Fennell said. “But my pitch count got up there in the fourth and I think I kind of ran out of gas. It’s probably the most I’ve pitched all year since I’ve mostly just been coming out of the bullpen.”
But Fennell bounced back in his second start on Thursday tossing four hitless, scoreless innings with one walk and an impressive five strikeouts. He didn’t even find out he was starting until about an hour and a half before the game when the scheduled starter got sick.
“I had actually already gone through my throwing program that day and was playing ping pong in the locker room and coach came up to me and told me I was starting,” Fennell said. “I was coming off short rest, so they told me I’d only go three innings. But I was throwing it well enough that I got the extra inning.”
Fennell expects to move back to the bullpen for the rest of the season, with maybe an occasional spot start here or there. Prior to the season, Fennell had said he preferred starting to relieving, but this season has started to change his mind.
“It’s kind of surprised me, but I’ve actually enjoyed relieving this year as much as I enjoyed starting in college,” Fennell said. “There are pros and cons to both. I feel like I’ve been more effective as a reliever than a starter over the last couple of seasons, and I’ve really enjoyed it this season.”
Fennell’s mother was in town for his Thursday start. She made the trip earlier, while his father, sister and girlfriend all came up Friday morning, thinking he’d be making some relief appearances over the weekend.
“I told mom that I was starting and she was excited,” Fennell said. “But then I told dad and he was kind of bummed. Hopefully there will still be plenty of chances for him to see me pitch.”
Fennell has played for four different teams this season. He started off the year with the Class A-Short Season Boise Hawks, then moved up to the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes, then down to the Class A-Advanced Lancaster JetHawks before moving down to Asheville.
“I know it’s technically a move down from where I was in Lancaster, but I’m actually really happy to be here,” Fennell said. “It’s where I wanted to be when I started the season. A lot of people in my draft class are at this level, so I think it’s a good spot for me. It’s always up in the air, but I’m hoping I can stay here for the rest of the season.”