DENVER (AP) — Wynton Bernard finally got his chance to play in the major leagues a decade after he was drafted by the San Diego Padres, and he made it count.
The Colorado Rockies selected Bernard's contract from Triple-A Albuquerque on Friday. He batted eighth and played center field against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the opener of a three-game series, finishing with a single, a stolen base and a run scored as the Rockies won 5-3.
"It's a special moment," Bernard said before the game. "After how many years I've played I'm finally here. It's amazing. I'm finally here."
The 31-year-old Bernard was taken in the 35th round of the 2012 draft and spent three seasons in the Padres' minor league system. He also played in the minors for Detroit, San Francisco and the Chicago Cubs along with stints in the Mexican Winter League, Venezuelan Winter League and independent ball.
He also played for the Brisbane Bandits of the Australian Baseball League.
Colorado manager Bud Black went to see Bernard and outfielder Connor Joe in the winter of 2020. He pitched batting practice to both players and encouraged the Rockies to sign them.
"I made the recommendation to our front office to see if we can sign these guys," Black said. "Our front office contacted their agents and they got deals done."
Joe made his Rockies debut in 2021 while Bernard played for the Isotopes the past two seasons. He hit .254 with seven homers in 2021. This year, his numbers are outstanding: .325 with 17 homers, 24 doubles and 26 stolen bases.
In 10 minor league seasons he is hitting .286 with 50 homers and 226 stolen bases.
Bernard was told he was being promoted before Albuquerque's game on Thursday. He celebrated with teammates and
shared the news with his mother in a video call.
"My mom's emotions, it made me break down even more. She's done so much," he said. "The way I saw her take care of my dad before he passed away, he was bedridden but she stayed by his side. I said to myself, ‘I know how hard she worked so I'm gong to work just as hard -- if not harder.' Just to see her reaction meant a lot."
The Rockies designated pitcher Jordan Sheffield for assignment. They also recalled catcher Dom Núñez and placed outfielder Yonathan Daza (left shoulder dislocation) and catcher Elias Díaz (left wrist sprain) on the 10-day injured list.