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Colorado Rockies

I don’t like the Colorado Rockies Major League team.  Sure, they have two bonafide offensive stars in Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado, but average to below-average complementary players.  It’s a shame as a slew of prospects have recently been given their shot, but because of lack of consistent playing time, none of them have had a chance to establish themselves. The pitching…well, it’s not very good.  But that’s always been the case.

I also don’t like their minor league system.  It’s surprisingly light on potential impact players.  Instead, there are a lot of complementary players that once promoted will compete with the Hampson’s, Tapia’s, and McMahon’s of the World.

That said, I do really like Zac Veen.  He’s everything you want in a prospect.  Athletic with good bat speed and a chance to hit.  Can the Rockies develop him?  Five years ago, I would have said yes.  Now, I’m not sure. 

I’m just underwhelmed with what the Rockies are doing.

Prospect Quick Shot

  • Top Prospect: Zac Veen
  • Biggest Mover: Ryan Vilade
  • Emerging Prospect: Helcris Olivarez

1. Zac Veen (OF)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 30 OF
  • Tools Summary: Young, athletic with the ability to hit

Going into the 2020 draft, Zac Veen was the most interesting high school player in the class.  At 6-foot-5, he reminds me of a young Jason Heyward with a similar smooth left-handed swing.  He’s athletic with great bat speed and a chance to hit for plus power.  He’s currently a good runner but as he fills out and puts weight on his large frame, the speed will likely fade.  As with Heyward, he has a patient approach and explodes on the ball.  I know some fantasy players will hate my comp, but Veen might be able to retain his power swing and if he does, he could develop into that number two outfielder that we thought Heyward would be.

2. Ryan Rolison (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 SP
  • Tools Summary: Premium stuff from the left side.  However, pitching half his games in Coors drops him down a grade

Ryan Rolison has good stuff with a fastball that sits 93 to 94 MPH and a plus curveball.  Additionally, he’s able to repeat his delivery which is allowing him to throw strikes.  The total package gives him a number three starter profile but again, pitching half his games in Coors Field will likely drive his ERA to league average, if not more.  Even though he only pitched in the Alternate Site in 2020, the stuff is advanced enough that a taste of Colorado in 2021 is not out of the question.

3. Colton Welker (3B/1B)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 3B/1B
  • Tools Summary: Good approach and solid bat-to-ball skills point to a full-time regular role.  Still a wide range of power potential.

Colten Welker is just about ready to make his Major League debut.  While his swing still needs some work, the approach is sound, and he makes excellent contact.  I still have questions on how much power he will ultimately have but assuming he stays in the Colorado organization, there could be 20 to 25 home run pop.  However, will he stay in Colorado?  He played a lot of first base in 2019 and that should increase his flexibility as third base is blocked. Seeing him in Colorado is far from a certainty. The ceiling is a full-time regular slashing .270/.340/.430 with 15 to 20 home runs, more if he stays in Colorado.

4. Ryan Vilade (3B/SS)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2021-22 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 3B
  • Tools Summary: Controls the strike zone very well with plus speed.

We now have two years of data and scouting and the profile for Ryan Vilade is becoming clear.  He’s a high contact player who can control the strike zone, runs well but questions remain around his power.  He did add more loft to his swing in 2019 and popped 12 home runs and reports out of the Alternate Site indicate he was showing good raw power in batting practice.  He should begin 2021 in Double-A and might get a chance to see Colorado later in 2021.

5. Michael Toglia (1B)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 1B
  • Tools Summary: Patient approach with double-plus future power potential.  At 6-foot-5, there will be swing and miss in his game

Michael Toglia was the Rockies’ first-round pick in 2019. He’s a switch hitter with more power from the left side.  Being a switch hitter in combination with his strong glove gives him the upside of a full-time regular.  He also played a little outfield in college and while the Rockies did not play him beyond first in 2019, that added positional flexibility is also a plus. 

6. Grant Lavigne (1B)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 1B
  • Tools Summary: He looked like an impact player at the draft table, but a down 2019 season has cast doubt on his long-term potential

I was excited when the Rockies drafted Grant Lavigne in the first round in 2018.  He has double-plus raw power and while there will be swing and miss in his game, he should get on-base enough for the power to play.  However, I saw him in 2019 and it wasn’t good.  He was expanding the strike zone and developed a hitch in his swing; probably to cut down on his strikeouts.  None of it worked and now I’m not sure what to think.  I’ve put Toglia in front of him, but I do believe Lavigne’s offensive ceiling is higher. That said, given Toglia’s defensive ability at first, Lavigne will likely need to move to DH to see Major League at-bats.

7. Aaron Schunk (3B)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 3B
  • Tools Summary: Solid power who also makes good contact.  His plus arm should allow him to stay in the dirt or move to a corner outfield role.

Aaron Schunk was the Rockies’ third-round pick in 2019.  He played college ball at the University of Georgia and showed both power and the ability to make contact in his draft year.  That continued in his debut in the Northwest League wherein he slugged .503 with six home runs while striking out in only 13% of this plate appearances.  He’s also an average runner and stole four bases. Schunk will be another young player that we will struggle to make a proper assessment of given the parks in which he will play.  For now, we are putting his projection of a Top 15 third baseman with 15 to 20 home run pop (more in Colorado) with a .270 plus batting average.

8. Ben Bowden (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Closer
  • Tools Summary: Closer stuff from the left-side

I expected to see Ben Bowden in Colorado in 2020 but apparently, that was not part of the plan.  He’s a fastball-slider pitcher with a lot of effort in his delivery.  He’s been used exclusively as a reliever after being selected in the second round of the 2016 MLB Draft.  He doesn’t always throw strikes but it’s swing-and-miss stuff with a chance to close games in the Major Leagues.

9. Helcris Olivarez (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2023+ Fantasy Ceiling:  Unknown
  • Tools Summary: Raw and talented with a premium fastball from the left side.  He’s likely a bullpen arm, but with his stuff, the Rockies will try to develop him as a starter.

Helcris Olivarez was signed in 2016 and spent three years in the DSL before making his state-side debut in 2019.  He started 11 games, showing electric stuff but not always knowing where the ball was going.  What has everyone excited is his premium fastball from the left side.  He’s already touching 97 and as he fills out, evaluators believe there will be more gas in the tank.  It’s also a high spin rate pitch that by itself can get swings and misses.  His secondary pitches are still emerging with his slider showing the most promise.

10. Brenton Doyle (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Short-Season ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 OF
  • Tools Summary: Intriguing power-speed skills that if he can cut down on his strikeouts, could develop into a Major League centerfielder

Brenton Doyle was the Rockies fourth-round draft pick in 2019.  He hit the ground running leading the Pioneer League in hitting with a .383 batting average.  He also added eight home runs and stole 17 bases.  Doyle has an intriguing power-speed combination that if he can improve his contact rate gives him a chance to have a Major League career.  In his debut, he struck out 22% of the time but also walked 14% of the time.  If it weren’t for a .484 BABIP, he surely would have not led the league in hitting.

11. Tommy Doyle (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Closer
  • Tools Summary: Possess a solid two-pitch arsenal with 38 saves in the minor leagues

Tommy Doyle made his Major League debut in 2020 appearing in three games.  The results were not great as he gave up six earned runs and walked four in 2.1 innings.  He’s a sinker-slider pitcher with his sinker sitting 94 to 95 and a slider that had a nice Whiff rate.  The delivery is not great and while I don’t think he’ll walk 15 per nine as he did in 2020, he’s never going to have pinpoint control.

12. Drew Romo (C)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2024+ Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 20 Catcher
  • Tools Summary: High school catcher with plus defensive ability

Drew Romo was drafted in the 2020 supplemental first round.  He’s a defensive-first catching prospect that the Rockies believe will eventually hit.  Based on looking at some youtube videos, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.  While he’s years away from the big leagues, the ceiling is Tucker Barnhardt.  In other words, a catcher who can hit enough to have a big-league career. 

13. Karl Kauffmann (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 SP
  • Tools Summary: Sinker-slider pitcher who had success in college

Karl Kauffmann was drafted in the supplemental second round of the 2019 MLB Draft.  He had success at the University of Michigan posting a 2.74 ERA in 45 appearances.  The arsenal is just average but he does throw a heavy sinker that might help him have some success in Coors.

14. Ezequiel Tovar (SS)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 20 SS with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: Double-plus speed with an idea at the plate

Ezequiel has double-plus speed and showed a feel for hitting in his professional debut in 2019.  He’s a long way off and therefore a wide range of potential outcomes.  However, if he can develop some power, he could develop into a Major Leaguer.  He should be ignored in all but the deepest Dynasty Leagues but his speed should keep him on your radar.

15. Yonathan Daza (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Streaming OF
  • Tools Summary: He can hit a little bit with some speed.

Signed back in 2010, Yonathan Daza made his big-league debut in August, accumulating 109 at-bats.  He only hit .206 but his minor league career suggests that it is an outlier.  He’s always hit with a career .318 batting average and a .359 OBP.  He’s a good runner but until he hit 11 home runs in Triple-A in 2019, he’s never showed much power. He’s likely a fourth outfielder in the big leagues but he can hit and that is usually the ticket for playing time.

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