Colorado Rockies

I wanted to dislike the Rockies system, but I can’t.  There are some intriguing players, especially the two at the top of the list – Zac Veen and Benny Montgomery.  Veen is one of the best prospects in the game with speed and solid power and Montgomery looks like he just walked out of central casting.  Both have swing and miss in their game, but both have significant ceilings.  Drew Romo had a strong offensive season showing good pop, solid speed, and a feel to hit.  Further down the list are several high upside teenage middle infielders and each looks like they have a chance to develop. 

There’s not a ton of pitching, but there never is.  I do like both Rolison and McMahon, but I worry that Coors Field will destroy their confidence and they will become 60% of what I think they will become – or at least that’s what history tells us.

Prospect Quick Shot

  • Top Prospect: Zac Veen
  • Biggest Mover: Drew Romo
  • Emerging Prospect: Dyan Jorge

1. Zac Veen (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 20 OF
  • Tools Summary: Double-plus speed with emerging power.  He does strike out more than you would like but as he matures and reduces his chase rate, he has the chance to be a league-average hitter

Few players had a better season than Zac Veen did.  In 101 games in Low-A, he slashed .303/.402/.509 with 15 home runs and 36 stolen bases.  He does strike out more than you would like (26% K/9) and needs to work on reducing the number of balls he’s chasing.  The swing works so there is hope that as he matures, the strikeouts will also reduce.  The upside is substantial with a kid who has double-plus speed, should hit for double-digit home runs and I believe will hit enough to be a full-time regular, if not an All-Star.  At this juncture, I’m all in.

2. Benny Montgomery (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Complex League ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 OF
  • Tools Summary: Athletic and toolsy but with some questions about his swing mechanics

The Rockies went back-to-back in the 2020 and 21 drafts with high school outfielder.  The early returns suggest they hit on Zac Veen, and they hope the same thing with Benny Montgomery.  One thing is for sure, he looks great in a uniform.  He’s tall, athletic with great bat speed, and is currently an above-average runner.  He does remind me of a young Kyle Tucker, all the way to the hitch in his swing.  Both have a deep coil in their swing, but over time, Tucker quieted his down.  Can Montgomery do the same?  Sure…but it’s a risk and likely why he went off the board at #8 instead of higher.  In aggregate, there’s a lot to like.

3. Drew Romo (C)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 Catcher
  • Tools Summary: Solid all-around tools give him the ceiling of a first division starter, and perhaps a good one

Drew Romo is a catcher and he stole 23 bases in 2021. 

For fantasy managers, that should be enough to stop reading this capsule and go pick him up.  But there’s more.  First, he’s a great defensive catcher with great athleticism and a strong arm (threw out 35% of would-be base stealers).  He also makes great contact, something evaluators were concerned about when he was an amateur.  And finally, there is plenty of bat speed to hit for future power.  So, you have an athletic, defensive-minded catcher with speed, potential future power who makes solid contact.  Uhh…what am I missing?

4. Ryan Vilade (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 50 OF
  • Tools Summary: Solid hit-tool but swing is more geared to contact so power may be limited

The Rockies challenged Ryan Vilade to a Triple-A assignment in 2021 and he more than held his own.  The Rockies rewarded his effort with a September cup of coffee.  He made great contact by posting an 18% K/9 while walking 7% of the time.  The swing is more geared to doubles than over-the-fence power, but he has solid speed and should be able to steal 20+ bases annually.  He might be a younger version of Ramiel Tapia with a little more power upside.  That’s not a star, but Tapia found full-time playing time and I believe Vilade might as well.

5. Elehuris Montero (3B)

  • Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 3B
  • Tools Summary: Plus power and who makes contact.  His uber-aggressive approach will limit his upside

Montero was the best piece in the return for the Rockies trade of Nolan Arenado.  He has plus power and has always made good contact.  He does swing at everything and consequently rarely walks.  His aggressive approach will be a limiting factor in his upside. But, there’s enough power and contact for him to be a full-time regular in the big leagues.  With a full major league roster, it’s hard to determine when he might get the call, but he should be ready at some point in 2022.

6. Colton Welker (3B)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 20 1B
  • Tools Summary: Solid power that will likely show better in Coors, but overall, the profile suggests a non-impact performer

Colton Welker was supposed to spend considerable time in the Major Leagues last season, but an 80-game PED suspension altered that plan. He did play 19 uneventful games in the big leagues and spent most of the rest of his time in Triple-A (23 games).  He has solid power, although he didn’t show it in Double-A in 2019 when he slugged .408. Remember, the Rockies play in Hartford, a neutral hitters ballpark, so perhaps he might show more power in the nice hitting confines of Coors.  I know a lot of people are high on Welker, but I’m not convinced he’s an impact performer.  I think he can be a solid offensive player, likely at first base, and hit 20 to 25 home runs with a sub .250 batting average.

7. Ryan Rolison (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 50 SP
  • Tools Summary: Solid arsenal from the left-side and when he throws strikes, he can be effective

Ryan Rolison will be a good Major League pitcher.  He has solid stuff and when he can repeat his delivery, he throws strikes.  In most systems, I would put his ceiling as a number three starter, but he’s in the Rockies organization and therefore, I’ve put his ceiling as a number four.  He had a nice season pitching across three levels but spent most of his time in Triple-A.  In those starts, he struck out nearly a batter an inning and kept his walks reasonable at 3.1 per nine. 

8. Ezequiel Tovar (SS)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 SS with risk
  • Tools Summary: Intriguing skills. He added some pop last season to go with plus speed.  He rarely strikes out but also rarely walks

Ezequiel Tovar made meaningful strides in his development last season.  Known for his defensive ability, he needed to get stronger as he had well below-average power.  He spent most of his time in Low-A and posted a .510 SLG with 11 home runs.  Even after his promotion to High-A, he slugged nearly .400.  He’s a 60 runner, so he’s going to steal bases, but now with a little power, he has enough tools to profile as a Major Leaguer.  He also rarely strikes out, but he also swings at everything.  In 469 plate appearances, he struck out 57 times but only walked 17.  He’s an intriguing prospect as his defense gets him to the Major Leagues and his ability to hit with some pop might make him a full-time regular.

9. Brenton Doyle (OF)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: Tooled up player who went 20-20 this season but also struck out 30% of the time while rarely walking

I think the Tools Summary above says it all for Doyle.  There’s a lot of exciting tools but he strikes out too much, chases too many pitches, and rarely walks.  The Rockies have a guy like that already in Sam Hilliard and while he’s shown flashes, just doesn’t have a Major League approach yet.  You don’t give up on tooled-up players, but Dynasty League owners need to temper their expectations.  If we see a decidedly approach change, then our analysis will change accordingly.

10. Warming Bernabel (3B)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 2B/3B
  • Tools Summary: Pop-up prospect who rarely strikes out and is starting to show some power

First, Warming Bernabel is a great name!  But, his ability to control the strike zone caught my eye and after digging in, I think there is something there.  The Rockies assigned him to the Complex League to begin last season and he showed such a feel for hitting that they promoted him to the Low-A where he continued to not look out of place. He rarely strikes out, has gotten stronger since we last saw him in 2019, and added a small stride to his swing, and looks to have unlocked some power.  He’ll steal the odd base, but speed will not be a big part of his profile.  He’s a young 19 and should start 2022 back in Low-A.

11. Michael Toglia (1B)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 20 1B
  • Tools Summary: Big country raw power but might lack the bat speed to handle high-end velocity

It’s been hard figuring out Michael Toglia.  He’s a switch-hitting first base with country raw power, but I question how much he’s going to hit and whether the power will play at the highest level.  There are definite holes in his swing and as he faces betting pitching, I think he gets exploited.  We saw that in a limited sample size after he was promoted to Double-A.  He struck out 30% of the time and only slugged .406 in 41 games.  Therefore, unless something changes, I see a soft regular with a slash line of .220/.300/.425 and 20 or so home runs.

12. Chris McMahon (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 SP
  • Tools Summary: Solid arsenal across the board with no true plus pitch.  Excellent control

McMahon was the Rockies’ second-round draft pick in 2020.  He performed well in his first professional exposure in High-A striking out over a batter an inning and keeping his walks under 2.5 per nine.  He doesn’t have a true plus pitch but the arsenal plays up because he can throw strikes.  It’s the profile of a number four starter in the Major Leagues.  He should begin the 2022 season in Double-A and could see the big leagues in 2023.

13. Adael Amador (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Complex League ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 SS with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: Plus speed with a feel to hit

For as much criticism as they’ve taken in their player development department, the Rockies have done well in signing Latin middle infielders.  This list is full of them and Adael Amador is yet another of the group.  He’s a good defender with plus speed with a feel to hit.  In 47 games in the Complex League, he walked nearly as much as he struck out, hit four home runs with 10 stolen bases.  He doesn’t turn 19 until next April and should begin the 2022 campaign in Low-A where he’ll likely get some run at second.

14. Aaron Schunk (3B)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 20 3B
  • Tools Summary: Down season in High-A has put serious doubt on whether he’ll hit his ceiling

I was expecting to see more from Aaron Schunk last season.  In 89 games in High-A, he slashed .223/.286/.346 with an aggressive approach and a high strikeout rate (28% K/9).  Throw in that he’s already 24 and the potential we saw over the last couple of years is fading.  There is big raw power but it hasn’t shown in games yet.  Some evaluators believe it will, but again, he’s already 24 and hasn’t even hit Double-A yet.  Perhaps, he’ll be a late bloomer.

15. Dyan Jorge (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Int’l Player expected to sign ETA: 2025+ Fantasy Ceiling:  Unknown
  • Tools Summary: Toolsy and athletic

The Rockies are expected to sign Dyan Jorge in January as part of the International signing period.  He’s athletic with burner speed and enough bat speed to project some future power.  If you believe in the market price equating to talent, then Jorge should be a target in Dynasty League supplemental drafts next spring as he’ll be one of the highest-paid players in the class.

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