Leave a comment

Colorado Rockies

The Rockies system is once again skewed towards hitters – partially because they have some excellent positional players, but secondly, I discount their pitchers.  Sure, they will develop a Jon Gray or German Marquez, pitchers with the talent to be number three, maybe more starters, but wind up as number four starters and marginal fantasy contributors.  They drafted Gabriel Hughes, an exciting pitcher with upside, in July.  I ranked him 10th in the system. He would be higher in most other systems.

That said, they have some intriguing hitters.  Zac Veen is tooled up with too much swing and miss in his bat, but he could easily be a 20-20 player.  Ezequiel Tovar and Adael Amador look like they can hit with speed and power.  Tovar has already made his Major League debut, but Amador is still a few years away.  I also like Warming Bernabel and Juan Brito a lot.  Both are under the radar in many Dynasty Leagues.  Finally, there is Drew Romo.  He can run, can hit, and I think he will eventually develop at least 15 home run pop – oh, and he’s an excellent defender. 

Prospect Quick Shot

  • Top Prospect: Zac Veen
  • Biggest Mover: Warming Bernabel
  • Emerging Prospect: Dyan Jorge

1. Zac Veen (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 20 OF with upside
  • Tools Summary: Double-plus speed with enough pop to be a 20-20 performer.  He also showed improvement in his contact rate, and if that continues, the ceiling could be a first-round draft pick.

Despite some swing-and-miss in his game, I continue to be extremely high on Zac Veen. His power-speed potential in 2021 continued in 2022 when he hit 12 home runs and stole 55 bases in 126 games across High and Double-A.  He even improved his contact rate by striking out 24% of the time.  Plus, the plate patience is still there.  If you add it up, few players in the minor leagues have a higher upside.

2. Ezequiel Tovar (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 10 SS
  • Tools Summary: Received a surprise promotion to the Major Leagues.  He’s gotten stronger with solid speed and excellent defense.

Exequiel Tovar had a nice season in Double-A, showing improved power and speed.  Then things got crazy.  He hurt his groin in June, and once he was ready to return, the Rockies re-assigned him to Triple-A for a week to end the season, and then he got the call to make his Major League debut.  His glove is already Major League ready, and while he’s gotten stronger, he just turned 21 in August and could use more time in the Minor Leagues.  But the Rockies don’t follow a playbook, so I would not be surprised to see him in the starting lineup in Colorado to open the 2023 season.  The upside is a Top 10 shortstop with 15-15 upside; perhaps more power as he matures and gets stronger.

3. Adael Amador (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 SS
  • Tools Summary: He’s emerging as one of the bright stars in the minor leagues with the ability to make excellent contact with speed and power

The 2019 International Free Agent signing period was deep with talented Latin Players.  However, the missed 2020 season significantly hurt that class, and many players have not developed.  One player who has is Adael Amador.  He was signed for much less than top-end players but appears ahead in his development curve.  Playing the entire season in Low-A at 19, he slashed .292/.415/.445 with 15 home runs and 26 stolen bases (he was caught 12 times).

Most importantly, he walked more than he struck out, posting an impressive 12% strikeout rate.  The power has increased as he’s gotten stronger and has added loft to his swing.  He has plus speed so projecting 20 stolen bases at the highest level is reasonable. He does need to get better at stealing bases, as his caught-stealing percentage is high. 

4. Drew Romo (C)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2024-25 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 Catcher
  • Tools Summary: He makes excellent contact with a simple swing.  He’s also athletic and an above-average runner.  The power hasn’t shown up yet, but I think it eventually will.

Drew Romo doesn’t get discussed with the other elite catchers in the minor leagues, but maybe he should. For the second year in a row, he struck out less than 20% of the time (19.3%), stole 18 bases, and played excellent defense.  The power has yet to show up, but there’s plenty of bat speed and physicality to project it will.  If you like Bo Naylor as I do, I think you would also find Drew Romo interesting.

5. Warming Bernabel (3B)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 3B
  • Tools Summary: Plus hit-tool with emerging power give him a high floor that could make him a Top 100 prospect.

Warming Bernabel picked off where he left last year and continued to show one of the better hit tools in the lower minor leagues.  In 91 games across Low and High-A, he hit .313 with a .370 OBP showing impressive contact (14% K-Rate) with a 7.5% walk rate.  He has plenty of bat speed to project 20 home run pop, but the 23 stolen bases he produced could become an outlier, mainly as he fills out.  The Rockies have not been known to sign kids with plus hit-tools; therefore, Bernabel is an exception. A very pleasant exception.

6. Benny Montgomery (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2025-26 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF
  • Tools Summary: Power and speed but the swing needs work

Montgomery, the Rockies’ first-round pick in 2021, was slowed in 2022 with a quad injury that limited his first half to 18 games.  He finally got rolling in July and showed an intriguing blend of power and speed.  While the tools are exciting, the swing is not.  There’s excess movement in both the setup and the swing, and consequently, without some changes, I don’t know if he hits enough to get to the tools.  The tools are fantasy-friendly, so I’m inclined to give him time to sort things out.

7. Juan Brito (2B) – Traded to Guardians

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 2B
  • Tools Summary: He shows an excellent feel to hit with a little bit of speed and power.

The Rockies have been moving slowly with Juan Brito, their 2018 International signee, but the plan is working based on his performance in Low-A last season.  He’s controlling the strike zone well, walking more than he’s striking out with speed and power.  Fresno plays as a hitter’s park, and Brito benefited, but there’s enough bat and foot speed to project 10 to 12 home runs and slightly more stolen bases.  Throw in his feel to hit; he could be an exciting fantasy contributor.

8. Dyan Jorge (SS)

  • Highest Level:  DSL ETA: 2026+ Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 SS with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: He’s toolsy with a chance to hit, hit for power and steal bases.

Dyan Jorge was the Rockies’ top 2022 international signee and got on the field in the DSL last summer and did not disappoint.   In 53 games, he slashed .320/.402/.452 with four home runs and 13 stolen bases (10 CS).  So far, so good…except for the caught stealing.  The Rockies love his athleticism and power potential as he fills out, and, despite his poor base-stealing percentage, he is a plus runner.  From a fantasy standpoint, it’s everything you’re looking for.  Just remember, he has a long way to go.

9. Jordan Beck (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF
  • Tools Summary: Solid-average tools across the board.

Even though Jordan Beck was drafted after Sterlin Thompson, I think the tools are more explosive, so I’ve ranked him ahead.  He had a solid year at the University of Tennessee, showing a solid approach, contact, and power.  I don’t see a true carrying tool, but instead, a player with many average tools that give him a ceiling of a full-time regular when put together.

10. Sterlin Thompson (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 OF with upside if he develops power
  • Tools Summary: He has the potential for a solid hit tool with average power.

Sterlin Thompson had a solid season at the University of Florida, showing excellent contact skills with solid power.  The Rockies liked him enough to make him the 31st overall selection last July.  Based on his swing, it looks like he’ll hit, but the swing is flat, so he’ll need to add some loft to tap into some home run pop.  There’s enough bat speed and physicality to suggest he can, but until we see it, it’s not there.  He’s a below-average runner, so speed will not be part of the profile.

11. Gabriel Hughes (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 SP
  • Tools Summary: He has a solid arsenal but an inconsistent ability to throw strikes.

I liked Gabriel Hughes on draft day but thought he might drop to the second round or at least the supplemental first round.  However, the Rockies liked him more and snagged him with the 10th overall pick.  He’s a big guy at 6-foot-4 and a listed 220 pounds (I think he’s bigger than that) with a big fastball that will touch 96 to 97.  He had a solid season at Gonzaga, where he pitched to a 3.21 ERA striking out over 12 per nine but also walking over three per nine.  If the Rockies can get him to throw more strikes, he could profile as a number three starter.  But, given his home ballpark and their lack of developing pitchers (I’d be curious if anyone could do better given Coors), I’m going to put a number four starting pitcher ceiling (with upside).

12. Michael Toglia (1B)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Corner Infielder
  • Tools Summary: He has the potential to hit 30+ home runs but might post a .220 batting average.  He does walk a lot, so he could also post a .320+ OBP.

It’s pretty simple with Michael Toglia.  He has 70-grade raw power that should produce 30+ home run pop, walks a ton, but strikes out 30%+ of the time.  Three-true-outcome players can be productive in the big leagues, but the risk is high.  If you’ve decided to roster him in a Dynasty League, understand the player’s parameters and set your risk profile accordingly.

13. Ryan Vilade (OF) – Claimed off waivers by the Pirates

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 75 OF with upside
  • Tools Summary: He makes excellent contact with an approach, but he’s never shown much power with average speed.

Ryan Vilade spent the 2022 season in Triple-A, where he hit .249 with five home runs and ten stolen bases in 99 games (he got a late September call-up to the Major Leagues).  Those are not stats that jump out at you, as he’s a hitter first with a bit of power and speed.  I always thought he’d have more power than he’s shown, but the swing is more contact-oriented, as, with his approach and strikeout rate, it should allow him to carve out a role as a fourth outfielder for a Major League team.  As a fantasy contributor, I think the upside is limited.

14. Hunter Goodman (C)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Second Catcher
  • Tools Summary: Plus power potential but with pressure on the batting average.

The Rockies assigned Hunter Goodman to Low-A to begin the 2022 season, and he quickly flashed his plus raw power by hitting 22 home runs in 73 games, slugging .592 along the way.  The Rockies did promote him to High-A in July, and after an adjustment period, he continued to hit and hit with power.  He did finish the season in Double-A and will likely return to begin the 2023 season.

The upside is a power-hitting catcher with pressure on his batting average, as the approach is aggressive, and he’ll strike out more than you would like.   

15. Brenton Doyle (3B)

  • Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 10 3B if he can hit
  • Tools Summary: The tools scream 20-20, but the strikeout rate and approach scream Quad-4A.

We’ve been including Brenton Doyle in our Colorado Top 15 prospects since he was drafted in the fourth round in 2019.  I was always intrigued by the power-speed potential but wasn’t sure if he would hit enough.  It’s been two seasons in a row of a 31% strikeout rate and an overly aggressive approach.  Sure, he hit 26 home runs and stole 23 bases, but achieving that production at the Major League level when you strike out that much and never walk will likely not happen.  Just ask Sam Hilliard.

%d bloggers like this: