The Making Of Noel Cuevas’ Viral Trip To Starbucks For Colorado Rockies Clubhouse

Last Monday, Colorado Rockies rookie Noel Cuevas might have gone 3-for-4 at the plate against the Chicago Cubs, but that didn’t stop fellow teammate Gerardo Parra from keeping the 26-year-old Puerto Rican native humble.

Rockies field reporter Taylor McGregor explained to Sports Business Chronicle via email that she was tipped off Tuesday evening to the upcoming event. Parra was making Cuevas head to the nearby Wrigleyville Starbucks for a clubhouse run prior to Wednesday’s early start. Cuevas asked McGregor if it was a story she’d be interested in documenting, with her saying “absolutely” and planning with the rookie where and when they’d go.

“(Parra) said that we needed some coffee since it was an early game, and we had to wake up early. Why not send me, a rookie? It’s a good, ‘Welcome to The Show’,” Cuevas said to Sports Business Chronicle.

Julian Valentin — Rockies’ Director of Digital Media and Publications — also caught wind of the Starbucks trip the night before from team photographer, Matt Dirksen. Dirksen was the digital staff’s ‘content correspondent’ on the road trip as Valentin communicated from Denver.

The social team then blocked out time in Wednesday’s content schedule to effectively cover the trip, which went viral that morning and into Thursday. Roughly 24 hours later, the social posts of Cuevas walking to Starbucks in full uniform to pick up the 27-drink order — which also included a cake pop and doughnut — had nearly 800,000 impressions across the Rockies’ channels, Valentin said.

“Digital media serves a variety of important functions, one of which is entertainment. We always strive to entertain our fans with fun and unique content, and this fell in line with that mission,” he explained via email.

The final bill for Cuevas? $111.55. He joked that with the Rockies pummeling the Cubs 11-2 later Wednesday afternoon, he may have to go more often, though with some of the other players’ credit cards instead of his own.

Oddly enough, in the midst of the hoopla and the possible look on the baristas’ faces when requesting a 25-plus drink order, as Cuevas explained to Sports Business Chronicle via phone, he forgot to order himself a drink.

“I feel like it wasn’t the first time for them,” he said of the baristas, who completed the order in about 20 minutes. “They kind of knew what was going on. The customers who were in there knew exactly what was going on. When I walked in with my uniform, they were like, ‘Ah, you must be the rookie getting some coffee’.”

Cuevas said the viral nature of his rookie trip was picked up by some of the local newspapers back home in Puerto Rico. Considering what his family endured during Hurricane Maria last September — where they lost all of their family-owned gas stations but one — it was especially meaningful what transpired last week on social.

“They were super excited. It’s been something they’ve never experienced before,” he said of his family witnessing his name pop up everywhere online.

“They know the road. They know how much sacrifice there is and the time I’ve been away from them. They know the hard road that I’ve taken to be able to be here today. … They’ve been with me since day zero. They deserve every single bit of (the attention), too.”

For Valentin and his team, a tricky aspect of actually featuring the Starbucks trip was already having a competing sponsor in the coffee category. Boyer’s Coffee, a Denver-based company, is the Rockies’ official partner and as a result, there were some sensitivities that sometimes go unnoticed when promoting a fun piece of content.

“You’ll notice that none of our posts tag or mention the store; that is by design,” Valentin said. “We have a duty to cover the story as it is — we are not going to remove logos or change the names of what was ordered — but we are always sensitive to protecting our valued partners.”

He added that despite normally having a pretty good feel of what will perform well across social, the Starbucks trip “surpassed my expectations and caught me off guard a little bit.” Even with the news being five days old, Valentin said the digital staff will keep the content in its back pocket for possible future use in Tweets and jokes, saying that “our fans will always remember this.”

Added Valentin: “Fans enjoyed seeing this kind of thing. It is good, clean fun, something we need more of in our world today. And my hope is that it allowed fans to get to know Noel better.”

And if you’re curious, when Cuevas does in fact order a Starbucks, his preferred drink of choice is a latte on cold days and an iced caramel macchiato for the hotter ones.

About Mark J. Burns

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