Rockies Sign Billy Buckner

The Rockies signed righty Billy Buckner to a minor league deal with a spring training invite, reports's Thomas Harding.

Buckner, 27, came up through the Royals' system and was traded to Arizona in '07 for Alberto Callaspo.  This year, the D'Backs sent Buckner to the Tigers for Dontrelle Willis, but Detroit released him less than two months later.  In 2010 the former second-rounder posted a 6.25 ERA, 5.4 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, and 1.1 HR/9 in 80 2/3 innings across two Triple-A stops.

Heading into the '09 season, Baseball America ranked Buckner eighth among D'Backs prospects.  At that time, they suggested Buckner had "the weapons to pitch in the middle of a rotation."  Today, Rockies player development director Marc Gustafson told Harding, "We've seen a lot of him, and he's a hard worker and he still has some upside as a prospect."

Hard work will indeed be required for Buckner to get starts for the 2011 Rockies.  Their rotation seems locked in with Ubaldo Jimenez, Jorge de la Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin, Jason Hammel, and Aaron Cook, while Felipe Paulino, Esmil Rogers, and Eric Stults are back-end candidates as well.

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