LOD’s 3 Players to Watch: Colorado Rockies
For this series, LOD writers will pick three players from each MLB team that we feel are players to watch in the 2023 season.
The Colorado Rockies have not made the playoffs since the 2018 season. An organization that is desperately looking to get back to winning baseball and now with the new playoff format, they just need a good season to stay in contention.
The Rockies didn’t make any big splashes this off season to bring any big names in, but they did make some small move to bolster their minor league system. You can say they are in the rebuilding mode and hoping to find a few gems to compliment their roster.
Below are a few players to watch in 2023 that can possibly help the big club win some games.
Michael Toglia is vying for a spot on the MLB squad this spring and he brings versatility to the lineup, with one being a switch hitter and two being able to play 1B and the outfield.
Toglia was drafted by the Rockies in the 1st Round (23rd Overall) of the 2019 June Draft out of UCLA. The Washington state native played three seasons at UCLA and combined he batted .307, with 36 home runs and 156 RBIs in 178 games.
In the minors, he experienced instant success at the plate, as he showed power at all levels of the Colorado system. In 2019, he hit nine home runs in 41 games at Short A Ball. Then in 2021, playing with Class A Advanced and Double A, he combined for 22 home runs, and 84 RBIs. He did strikeout 142 times, but he also walked 65 times in 425 at bats.
In 2022, he started the season in Double A and launched 23 home runs and drove in 66, and walked 51 times, before moving on to Triple A where he batted .333 in 17 games and hit seven home runs.
Toglia appeared in 11 Spring games in 2022 and batted .316. He then made his MLB debut on August 30th and went hitless. The next day he showed why the Rockies are high on him as he went 2 for 4 and hit his first MLB home run. During September, he hit safely in 11 of the 25 games he played in and recorded five multi-hit games including one 3-hit game. He finished the season batting .216, with eight doubles, two home runs and 12 RBIs. He did strikeout 44 times in 111 at bats.
He is off to a slow start in 2023 spring season, but in the next month, if he can turn it on and showcase the same power that he enjoyed in the minors, he may be able to break camp with the club.
The potential is there for Toglia to help the big club, the question will be does he start the season in the bigs or does he join the team for good sometime this summer?
When he does join the team, he will be a player to watch.
The Rockies have two young studs who could battle it out to see who breaks camp as the starting shortstop. Alan Trejo and Ezequiel Tovar are two bright stars in the Rockies system. Trejo made his MLB debut in 2021 and then appeared in 35 games in 2023, where he hit .271, and hit four homers. Tovar had a sample size of games during his debut in 2022 and even though he didn’t fair as well there is great potential for the Maracay, Venezuela native.
Tovar started his professional career in 2018 with the Rockies and through four minor league seasons, combined he batted .283, with 184 runs, 55 doubles, 14 triples, 31 home runs, 148 RBIs in 1136 at bats.
On July 7, 2022 he was assigned to the NL Futures Roster, but a nagging groin injury kept him out of the lineup and game. He made his MLB debut on September 23, 2022 as the youngest position player in Rockies history and recorded his first two MLB base hits. He hit safely in 6 out of the nine games, but batted just .212 on the season. He did record his first MLB home run on the last game of 2022 for Colorado.
The right handed batter and #25 on MLB’s Top Prospect list is off to a quick start with the Rockies in spring training as he has two hits in seven at bats, so far, with one being a home run. He has a shot to possibly break camp with the team.
It may not matter that he only played five games in Triple A last season, but even if he is sent there to start 2023, expect Tovar to be with the big club for good sometime soon after.
Looking at the Rockies lineup, there are a few veterans but one that stands out and can help lead the youth movement is Kris Bryant. Its hard to believe he is already 31 years old, as it seems like yesterday that he made his MLB debut.
In 2015, he joined the Chicago Cubs after playing just two seasons in the minors where he just dominated the competition. In his first two seasons in the minors he blasted away 52 balls over the fence in just 174 games.
Fast-forward to the 2015 MLB debut season, as he showed the baseball world just what Kris Bryant was capable of, by becoming an All Star and winning the NL Rookie of the Years award. The next season, he was part of the squad that finally ended the Cubs World Series drought by bringing the title back to Chicago for the first time since 1908.
Bryant remained with the Cubs until he was traded mid season 2020 to the San Francisco Giants for two minor leaguers. After his 51 games with the Giants ended, he filed for free agency and signed with the Rockies last March in the tune of 7-years, $182 million.
The 4-time All Star, battled with injuries in 2022, which limited his time on the field. He played in only 42 games, hitting .306, with 12 doubles, five home runs and 14 RBIs.
Bryant will be one of the most watched in the Rockies lineup to see how he battles back from injuries and if he can lead the young Rockies to a winning season and also make good on his mega contract.
A healthy Bryant will be fun to watch in 2023.