Legends On Deck

Breaking Down The Rockies Top Ten Prospects

A team like the Colorado Rockies, currently sitting at 31-47 as of June 28th, and 19.5 games back from the division-leading San Francisco Giants, find themselves at an interesting position in their franchise. Not sure of what is ahead in an ultra-competitive division that could potentially see three teams making the playoffs. The Colorado Rockies do not have a clear future. Currently, they are 4-6 in their recent ten games, yet still 16 games under .500. The Colorado Rockies have a competitive team but do not have a team capable of winning the division this year. Although as we know, anything can happen in baseball.

All in all, prospects in baseball are the most important part of a franchise and this is the case for the Colorado Rockies. With players like Charlie Blackmon and Trevor Story potentially becoming free agents, it is vital for the Rockies prospects to come through and change this franchise. Today we are going to break down the Rockies’ top ten prospects who may shape the future for the mile-high ball club.

1. Zac Veen, OF, A. 19 yrs. L/R

Zac Veen via Pressboxonline.com

Zac Veen via Pressboxonline.com

Zac Veen was the 9th overall pick in last year’s First Player Draft. At age 19, 6’4 190 pounds, Zac Veen is the future of the outfield for the Colorado Rockies. Although Zac is the highest-rated prospect on the Rockies per MLB.com, Colorado fans will have to wait quite a while until they see Zac. At age 19 Zac is currently playing in Single-A baseball for Fresno Grizzlies.

Veen was drafted due to his amazing high school career and an intriguing summer showcase. Zac is from Daytona Beach, Florida. The level of play was so high for Zac that he was the 2nd positional player drafted and signed a 5 million dollar deal in 2020. Veen is a duo threat being that he bats left-handed yet plays outfield with the right hand.

Zac Veen’s swing is one to behold. A left-handed swing that reminds scouts of Cody Bellinger. According to a 20-80 grading scale, scouts have listed Veen’s hitting as a 60, with power at 55. An ETA of 2024 means Zac Veen has plenty of time to move up the ranks of the Rockies farm system. Although a shaky Rockies outfield future may jump-start Zac Veen’s career through the minors.

Finally looking at the cold hard stats, Veen has been outstanding in Single-A so far. As mentioned, Zac Veen is currently playing in Single-A for the Fresno Grizzlies, which is his first professional team. As of late June, Veen is currently hitting .241 but with an On-base percentage of .374. Veen has also brought in 22 runs, scoring 29 himself on just one home run this year. In the early days, it is looking like Veen is a Base of ball drawer, with 29 walks this year.

2.Ryan Rolison, LHP, AAA, 23 Yrs, L/R.

Ole Miss pitcher Ryan Rolison pitches against Missouri in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, April 22, 2017. (Photo/Thomas Graning)

Ryan Rolison is listed as the 2nd best prospect for the Colorado Rockies. A southpaw pitcher is hard to find in the MLB but the Colorado Rockies might have found a diamond in the rough. At 6’2 213 pounds, the 23-year-old is at a great part in his career. Rockies fans will be able to see Ryan a lot sooner than Zac Veen. Currently, Ryan Rolison is playing in AAA for the Albuquerque Isotopes.

Most people involved around the Rockies believe that Ryan Rolison will make his debut at some point this year. Rolison is a Fastball, Slider, Changeup, and Curveball. Even with the four-pitch repertoire, Rolison’s best pitch is the Curveball.

Drafted in 2018 with a first-round pick, Ryan has been in the minors for 3 years now. This year Ryan started in AA with the Hartford Yard Goats, sporting a 3.07 ERA through 3 starts, only walking two batters and striking out 20. It’s a fact that Rolison has great command and does not give up at-bats due to walks. Ryan was promoted to AAA earlier this year and has also made three starts sporting a 4.38 ERA on 12 innings pitched. Therefore through the minors this year, Rolison has made 6 starts, over 27 innings, allowing just a .214 batting average while walking just 5 batters.

The Rockies should be adding a quality left-handed starting pitcher to the rotation this year and is something all Rockies fans should keep an eye out for.

3. Michael Toglia, 1B , A+, 22 Yrs, S/L

Michael Toglia with UCLA Bruins via Dailybruin.com

Michael Toglia was a first-round pick selected 23rd overall by Colorado back in 2019. His ETA isn’t until 2022, which is kind of surprising considering he is only in A+ playing for the Spokane Indians at the moment. Michael is someone who is a really good prospect but certainly needs the experience. Toglia comes in as a tall first baseman, almost like a Freddie Freeman type, sitting at 6’5 226 pounds. Toglia also benefits from being a switch hitter, something the Rockies could use.

The style of play from Michael is something that intrigued Rockies scouts. He is a power-hitting switch hitter who can drive the ball to any area of the field. He does struggle with contact quite a bit, but when he can hit the ball it is usually in a positive manner towards the outfield. Surprisingly though, Michael is a very athletic first baseman for his size. He can play in the outfield, which he did in college for quite a while, and he is a very good defender with an above-average arm. Michael looks to be a power-hitting first baseman that can drive in runs, and could be a future cleanup hitter for Colorado.

There is still plenty for Michael Toglia to work on in his minor league career. 2019 was his rookie year, and he had a very good .369 on-base percentage driving in 26 runs on the year with nine home runs. A loss season in 2020 due to the way the minor league controlled coronavirus means that 2021 is just his second year in the minors. But so far this year he has a (.700) OPS, with 34 runs, on 38 hits, with five doubles, and an amazing ten home runs with 30 runs batted in. Michael is outperforming himself and the minors right now and could very well see a promotion to AA with the Hartford Yard Goats very soon. Once again with an ETA of 2022, Michael still needs to improve quite a bit but does come in as the Rockies third-best prospect.

4.Ryan Vilade, OF, AAA, 22 Yrs, R/R

Ryan Vilade Cactus League debut via denverpost.com

The first player on the list who is not a first-round pick by the Colorado Rockies, Ryan Vilade was drafted in 2017 with the 48th overall pick, which is proving to be worthwhile. Ryan Vilade is currently in AAA with the Albuquerque Isotopes but is expected to join the Major League roster at some point this year. The most likely situation would be during these September call-ups. Ryan has impressed recently and has been turning heads in Albuquerque.

Ryan Vilade never played in AA but has severely outperformed himself in AAA. This will be Ryan’s fourth year in the minors and each year just keeps getting better and better. So far this year Vilade has an on-base percentage of .343 through 41 games. Ryan has a career .289 batting average in the minor leagues but does struggle striking out sometimes. Ryan does bring some speed with 51 stolen bases so far in his minor league career.

Vilade is a strong right-hander in the outfield position. He has added quite a bit of strength since he was drafted and should provide the Rockies with a 25 to 30 home run hitter per year in the future. Ryan has also played a majority of positions in the defense, starting his career shortstop, then moving to third base, and then the outfield. With that being said he should be an everyday run producer in the left field, with comparisons to former Rockie Matt Holiday. It is safe to say that there are quite a bit of strong players coming through the Rockies system shortly which will benefit from playing in Coors Field, and Ryan Vilade is one of them, with his future in Colorado starting shortly.

5. Aaron Schunk, 3B, A+, 23 Yrs, R/R

             

Aaron Schunk via www.sicemdawg.com

Aaron Schunk is perhaps one of the most interesting players in the Rockies farm system. This is because he is a two-way player. Could the Rockies have a future Shohei Ohtani on their plate? With that being said, don’t get too ahead of yourself. He is a third baseman and a closing pitcher, but the Rockies drafted him because of his batting skills. In college, he had a (.339) BA with power. Schunk ended up being picked in the second round by the Rockies in 2019. Aaron is a 6’2 205 pound third baseman with an ETA of 2022.

Aaron is dabbling in other positions in the infield including second base. The Rockies have played Aaron at third base and second base to get a lot of reps at each position, and he has been great at both. He has quite a bit of athleticism which is nice for a two-way player. Aaron’s strong suits are his arm, his power, and his fielding. His weaknesses are probably strong contact and the ability to run.

Looking at Aaron’s numbers this year, he is only batting at .239 through 33 games. Although he has brought in 19 runs and has surprised some people with seven stolen bases already this year. We’re not too sure what Aaron brings to the table, but with him currently playing with the Spokane Indians and single-A advance, Aaron has plenty of time to figure out what he wants to be. He’s an interesting prospect that we will need to keep our eyes on, and we will be hoping then he gets promoted soon to the Yard Goats.

6.Brenton Doyle, OF, A+, 23 Yrs, R/R

Brenton Doyle Shepardams.com

Not many people will know who Brenton Doyle is considering he wasn’t a first-round pick and never went to a big-name school. Luckily for Brenton, that is his inspiration to defy the odds on the field. Brenton Doyle played in a division II school “Shepard”. When draft night came, Doyle was selected 129th overall in the 4th round to the Colorado Rockies back in 2019. Since then Doyle has improved vastly from Grand Junction to now the Spokane Indians, where many of Rockies top prospects are currently playing.

Doyle is a very athletic outfielder with plenty of pop. At 6’3 200 pounds, Doyle already has the body of a big leaguer. Doyle’s frame allows him to play with plenty of speed and has quite the glove in the outfield. Brenton will be valuable to the Rockies in a Power/Speed form in the future.

Through 361 career at-bats in minor league play, Doyle has an impressive .403 OBP. Match that with 14 home runs and 53 RBI’s. As mentioned, Brenton Doyle is a power/speed player which explains his 5 triples and 29 stolen bases.

7.Helcris Olivarez, LHP, A+, 20 Yrs, L/L

PHOENIX, AZ – MARCH 01: Colorado Rockies pitcher Helcris Olivarez (73) pitches in the 6th inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch March 01, 2021. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

Yet another Spokane Indian on the list. A talent-packed single A plus roster with strong southpaws like Helcris Olivarez. This pitcher was not drafted but signed in 2016 to the roster. Helcris Olivarez was added to the 40-man roster due to an impressive 2020 alternate site performance.

Helcris has been one of the longest-tenured prospects for the Rockies. Signed just four days after turning sixteen years old. Helcris still has plenty of time to improve considering he is only 20 years old and has an ETA of 2023, meaning he would be in the minors for a long seven years.

Olivarez has a consistent 95-97 MPH fastball. Tag that along with a power curve with a lot of drop and spin. Rockies management believes he has an incredibly high ceiling but needs to prove he can be consistent.

Unfortunately, Helcris has had quite a few setbacks this year. Even with an impressive 2020 alternate site performance, Helcris is 1-7 this year with the Spokane Indians. It’s hard to look at the raw stats with Olivarez because he is not very consistent. As mentioned before, Helcris may have six innings of no earned runs, but then the next game comes around. This is very apparent when comparing 2018 to 2019. Back in 2018, Olivarez sported an amazing 2.30 ERA going 6-1 on the year with 60 strikeouts. Compare that to 2019 where he was 3-4 with 61 strikeouts on a 4.82 ERA, almost double. Pair that with a poor 2021 for Helcris. A 6.25 ERA with a 1-7 record. Another aspect of his game is the walks. Each year his walks are going up, leading to a worse WHIP.

Things aren’t exactly going well for the 7th ranked prospect in the organization. It’s hard to tell which direction he is going in when you compare the stats to years past. He took a huge step forward in his 2nd year with the minors, yet a step back in year 3. Which led to a huge step forward in 2020 at the alternate site, only to take a massive step back this year in the minors. I’m sure we all want the best for Helcris this season. Only 10 starts in, Helcris still has plenty of time to turn the year around and earn that promotion to AA for 2022.

8.Chris McMahon, RHP, A+, 22 Yrs, R/R

Chris McMahon vs FGCU via themiamihurricane.com

A 22-year-old prospect out of Miami who was a multi-sport athlete back in Philadelphia. McMahon also benefitted from playing with Team USA in 2020. All in all, Chris was drafted in 2020 with the 46th overall pick. Once again, yet another prospect playing for the Spokane Indians.

McMahon has a pitch repertoire of a fastball, changeup, and slider. His fastball is his best pitch with speeds of the mid-’90s. McMahon has an ETA of 2023 which means the Rockies expect him to get promoted to a higher rank after every year until he reaches the Rockies in 2023.

Chris McMahon has had a solid minor league performance this year. Through ten games McMahon has a 4-2 record over 50 innings. McMahon has only given up 15 bases on balls with 44 strikeouts so far this year. Opponents have a .286 batting average against McMahon on the year. Unfortunately, a lot is still unknown about McMahon. Being in his first year in the minor you can’t conclude just yet. On the high note, McMahon has performed well enough this year to get a promotion to AA, but only time will tell.

9.Elehuris Montero, 3B, AA, 22 Yrs, R/R

Vivaelbirdos.com

A Hartford Yard Goat representative has appeared on the list for the first time. A not-so-loaded AA team is led by none other than third-baseman Elehuris Montero. Elehuris made his way to the Cardinals apart of the Cuban signing of 2014 where we saw Yoan Moncada sign a 31.5 million dollar deal. Now, Elehuris is not at that level but is slated to join the major league roster in 2021.

Many people will not know, but Elehuris Montero was the main trading piece in the Nolan Arenado trade. Therefore, Montero has some high expectations. Montero is only 22 years of age but has been in the minor league system since he was sixteen years old. Montero does have quite a nice bat for his age. He has a great combination of bat speed with plenty of strength and power. Elehuris suffers from being too aggressive at the plate which leads to high strikeout rates but also high power rates. If Elehuris can cut down on the strikeouts throughout his minor league career, he should have plenty of power to thrive in Colorado.

Now, Montero is listed as a third baseman, which makes sense considering he has a power arm. Unfortunately, Rockies management does not believe he can be a long-term third-baseman. This could be exactly like the Vladimir Guerrero Jr.situation we saw in Toronto where a switch from third-base to first-base was made. Finally, just quickly looking at the minor league stats through six years should make you feel happy about his progress. A career (.336) OBP in the minors mixed with 40 career home runs. A high strikeout to walk rate with 371 career strikeouts with only 153 base on balls. A high slugging percentage of (.414) will work well in Colorado. We should see the beginning of Montero’s major league career in 2021, most likely in September via September call-ups.

10.Drew Romo, C, A, 19 Yrs, S/R

Drew Romo via Purpulerow.com

Drew Romo is a very intriguing prospect as a 19-year-old catcher. Keep in mind he was just drafted last year and is very young so we shouldn’t expect to see Drew anytime soon. With an ETA of 2024, Drew Romo finds himself starting his minor league career in Low A with the Fresno Grizzlies.

Drew was drafted last year with the competitive balance pick of 35. Straight out of Woodlands High School in Houston. Drew Romo is a potential gold glover at the catcher position which is exactly why the Rockies used a high pick on him right out of high school. Romo has excellent hands with an impressive release. Romo also benefits from being a switch hitter as a catcher, not something we see every day.

Drew Romo may only be listed as the 10th ranked prospect for the Rockies but he could very well move up that list. As mentioned, this is just Romo’s first year in the minors straight out of high school, yet he is killing it right now. Professional play has not scared Drew as he is hitting (.313) from the plate this year. Mix that with his impressive defense and he very well might be on the Yard Goats before the end of the year. Romo has 42 hits on 134 at-bats with a SLG of (.485). He also has 4 home runs on the year and only 24 strikeouts. Low strikeouts, high average, great fielding, all signs of a major league catcher. Keep an eye out for Drew Romo.

Summary

At the end of the day, the Rockies do not have the best farm system at the moment. With only two prospects in the MLB top 100, there isn’t much to be excited out. Luckily for Rockies fans, when you break down the 1-10 you start to find the prospects that will really matter for the team. Those prospects are probably not coming until 2023-2024, but as the years go on, these prospects will be better and better. Mix that with the upcoming player draft and there is a lot to be eager for in the mile-high city.

 

Christopher Everidge
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