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Ezequiel Tovar, mature beyond his years, primed to be next Colorado Rockies star shortstop

Mar. 29—SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Ezequiel Tovar stood alone in the Rockies' clubhouse at Salt River Fields, focused on the piles of baseball cards on the high-top table in front of him.

A part of him was not-so-secretly hoping he'd find himself, but his main mission was to find his favorite Venezuelan players, like Miguel Cabrera. He found someone from his hometown, a huge grin on his face as he ran over to the nearby couches to show his friends. He was still holding it 30 minutes later, like a little kid cherishing a prized possession.

At 21, Tovar is barely a grownup. Most boys his age are navigating adulthood, learning how to do basic tasks on their own for the first time.

Not Tovar.

He's mature beyond his years, long ago realizing his potential as a baseball player and the chance the game had to change not only his life but his family's as well. By the time he was 11 he was traveling the world by himself to tournaments and showcases. At 13 he moved from Venezuela to the Dominican Republic, signing his contract with the Rockies the day he was eligible. He came to the United States before his 18th birthday, too young, by state law, to play for the Rockies' rookie league team in Grand Junction. So he went straight to short-A, where he had no problem adjusting to a higher caliber of baseball.

"Being away from family is hard," Tovar said through assistant hitting coach Andy Gonzalez, who translated the interview. "They understand that this is what I do, this is what I love doing. At the end of the day, this is what's going to make me and my family good in the long (haul)."

At a cool 21-and-one-month old, Tovar made his MLB debut, the youngest position player to do so in Rockies' history. He's always been known for his defensive skills, but he got two hits in his first two at-bats, the shortstop proving right away he can do more than just make stunning plays. He felt like a badass, he said that night.

Now he's ready to take over a prime position for a team trying to right the course. The most successful teams in Rockies' history all had a star shortstop at the heart of it, from Troy Tulowitzki during the 2007 and 2009 playoff runs, to Trevor Story in 2017 and 2018.