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How Todd Helton is helping Rockies prospect Michael Toglia realize his potential

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For the Rockies’ first baseman of the future to realize his potential, he’s tapping into the club’s great first baseman of the past.

The partnership began during spring training this year when Michael Toglia headed to a backcourt in Salt River to work out the intricacies of playing first base with Todd Helton, who joined the club as a as a special assistant. During those morning sessions, Toglia pulled on Helton’s mini-glove, and the connection between the past and the future of the Rockies began where no one was looking.

“He was throwing a bunch of picks at me and I was practicing with his mini glove, and we were talking about the game, how we approach it,” Toglia said. “We bonded immediately because we were playing first base, we were very proud of our defense. We made a strong connection through (those backcourt sessions), and throughout the year he came to Hartford and we were able to strengthen our relationship even more. We talk about hitting and defending and the mental side of baseball.

Toglia, 23, is cutting .209/.316/.421 with 15 home runs and 47 RBIs in 75 games for Double-A Hartford. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound hitter is aiming to make his major league debut within the next year or two if he improves at the plate. Helton sees a potential talent from Gold Glove who has “big hands” around the bag.

“He still needs to work on his lower half, getting his feet in tune with his upper body (defensively),” Helton said. “But other than that, he can really field baseball. He works hard at it. He can use a little home plate work, but there’s really nothing big he needs to work on defensively.

Helton, Colorado’s all-time leader in doubles (592) and home runs (369), is trying to pass on the knowledge that made him a Hall of Fame-caliber power hitter — much like the hitter Toglia hopes to become . Helton describes his role as “a part-time assessor and teacher”, and he travels once a month, usually spending about a week with a Colorado minor league affiliate.

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