It’s my fourth year doing these lists, and these young Rockies have never looked better.
How they’ll screw it up is anyone’s guess.
The blueprint required is on display in Cleveland. This organization needs to develop pitching and prioritize defense because anyone can hit in Coors, and because it’s such a big ball park, they should be starting three center-field-level athletes in the outfield and seeking hyper-athletic, single-stealing infielders. This list provides hope for the defensive side, but pitching remains a mystery to this short-staffed front office. I probably wouldn’t include great pitching prospects on this list if they had some, for what it’s worth. Who wants a Rockies pitcher? Not me. But they should.
The biggest barrier between any Colorado prospect and fantasy glory is the Rockies themselves. A river of free agent fart-knockery and playing-time indecision have carved out a dysfunctional couple decades. It shouldn’t be impossible to lean into this park’s home advantages. There’s a reason Charlie Blackmon is great there. All fields, contact hitters work pretty well in general but especially in Coors, and San Francisco, and Arizona. They’ve circled back to drafting pitchers, and as CJ Cron and Jose Iglesias prove, the team can plug in veteran hitters and get results on an as-needed basis. You can’t draft only pitchers because you’ve gotta field a team, but I’ll never understand why this team invests so much draft, trade and international capital in hitters, but hey it’s great for our purposes. Though it’s also bad because they still sign youth-blocking free agents anyway.
Maybe I’d wind up looking like a fool, but if I were the Rockies, I’d dedicate the top five rounds to pitching every year for ten years or so. Gotta zag when the board demands it, of course, but the underlying principle would be aggression on the mound in the minors. They’ve gone the other way so long it’s impossible to say what might happen. I’d also try to get the minor league affiliates out of hitters’ havens in hitters’ leagues. Let the arms develop in a neutral environment. I get why they’ve gone the other way, but that hasn’t worked, and it probably shouldn’t. It’s sort of like facing the boss several levels before your characters are ready in a role playing game. Maybe it’s fun to see what you’ll be up against in the long run, but then you get to go back and grind against the dregs you can manage at your current level. If all you could do all year as a 19-year-old was get stomped by the boss 28 times, you might lose heart, or lose the forest of long-term development through the trees of short-term survival. If anyone from the Rockies is reading this, yes, I’m available for consulting work. I know you like to run a tight (cheap) ship, and honestly, I could be bought away from my current gigs for a moderate sum.
On the plus side, they’re White-Lotus rich in exciting young hitters.
1. SS Ezequiel Tovar | 21 | MLB | 2022
Tovar’s like that smiley-smooth Essex kid in The White Lotus. Just makes it look easy. Or maybe it just looks easy in comparison to Albie. In 66 games as a 20-year-old in Double-A, Tovar slashed .318/.386/.545 with 13 home runs and 17 stolen bases. That’s juicy. Speaking of, Grey gave you his thoughts on the matter in his Ezequiel Tovar, 2023 Fantasy Outlook.
Makes me wonder who the last Rockies rookie was to be featured in this fashion. All guesses welcome in the comments.
2. OF Zac Veen | 21 | AA | 2024
Is he the cure for what ails the Rockies? The 6’4” 190 lb Veen reached Double-A as a 20-year-old, but the promotion did not go well. He slashed .177/.262/.234 with one home run and five stolen bases in 34 games. He also got caught stealing five times. He’ll be writing a memoir about the experience titled Six Weeks to Forget. Which is exactly what we should try to do, right? I’m not so sure. He remains a high-end prospect with huge upside, but his approach angle (uppercut) and approach in general give me pause.
3. OF Benny Montgomery | 20 | A | 2025
Benny the jet could probably pinch run in a big league game right now. He and Veen make for an interesting pair because while Veen swings for the fences, Montgomery’s swing is as level as you’ll see. The 6’4” 200 lb centerfielder generates power anyway from plus bat speed and extreme athleticism. I considered putting him over Veen.
4. 1B Michael Toglia | 24 | MLB | 2022
Some names below him have more upside, but Toglia appears to be a core piece for 2023, and I always prioritize short-term upside over long in my dynasty speculations. Just today on the trade market, I had a guy trying to sell me Kevin Alcantara as an 8th round overall pick in a dynasty start-up. Okay, maybe, but not for my team. I like him, but I was being told my Thairo Estrada was an 11th round pick in this same hypothetical start-up draft, and I’m just not seeing the field that way. Estrada just went 14/21 while hitting .260 and fighting for playing time in his first full MLB season. Kevin Alcantara’s 85th percentile outcome is something like that in his prime. Simply put, I believe baseball is hard. Can Toglia hit big league pitching? Well, maybe in Coors, but it’s a complicated answer for our game. He doesn’t have to be Todd Helton to make himself worth having on a roster in most leagues. The playing time is the thing, and his OF eligibility makes all the difference in the world for 2023. At least, it does in leagues that start 75 outfielders on a daily or weekly basis.
5. SS Adael Amador | 19 | A | 2026
A huge part of me wants to just leave the blurb at that. Like 90 percent.
In 115 games at Low-A, Amador drew 87 walks (15.7%) and struck out just 67 times (12.1%), slashing .292/.415/.445 with 15 home runs and 26 stolen bases. Debut seasons don’t get much better than that, although they typically involve a promotion. He’s listed at 6’0” 160 lbs but weighs more than that today. He’s a switch hitter who’s effective enough from both sides of the plate that he shouldn’t have to baby one side or the other.
6. 3B Warming Bernabel | 20 | A+ | 2025
Good November name here. It’s cold in Iowa. Also it was about 70 degrees a week ago thanks to Global Bernabeling.
Sorry for that. Should’ve probably deleted it once I read it back, but it made me smirk, so it stayed.
Bernabel controls the strike zone well and could have a long run of posting plus batting averages. He hit .305 for 26 games in High-A despite walking just twice, so he could try to become a different sort of hitter as he settles in against the age-to-level curve. He has to do what he can to tread water now but could really swim if he learns to hunt pitches he can damage.
7. 3B/OF Nolan Jones | 24 | MLB | 2022
With Cleveland, Jones was unlikely to get the high-level reps he needed to refine his patience-first approach at the big league level. It remains to be seen what kind of opportunity he’ll have in Colorado, but a lot of people can produce numbers in Coors. The 6’4” 185 lb left-handed hitter is exactly the kind of player I think the team should move away from, but I’m still interested in the right fantasy context, especially in OBP leagues.
8. 3B OF Sterlin Thompson | 21 | A | 2025
I hope you’re watching Reservation Dogs, written by Sterlin Harjo. Only other Sterlin I know of. Great show. Any the who, Thompson posted two good seasons at Florida and got himself selected 31st overall in this year’s draft. He’s a 6’4” 200 lb left-handed hitter with power and plate skills.
9. C Drew Romo | 21 | A+ | 2024
This dude can predict pitches like few other catchers. Romo gets a lot of love from the real-baseball rankings, so his value will always be a little off for the dynasty game. He slashed .254/.321/.372 with five home runs and 18 stolen bases in 101 games against older players in High-A, good for a 95 wRC+. I realize that’s a catcher with speed headed to Coors. I just don’t have much interest for our game.
10. SS Dyan Jorge | 20 | DSL | 2026
A 6’3” 170 lb right-handed hitter out of Cuba, Jorge checks every conceivable box on the physicality front. He played well in the DSL (.319/.404/.450), but he was old for the level and won’t get his first real test until he debuts stateside in 2023.
Thanks for reading!
Man I love your rundowns Itch!!
But I think Veen is going to be a stud. There’s a fair bit of Yelich to his game and I think he will tap into his power in Denver without sacrificing his OBP.
We can’t agree on everything!
Have a great Turkey Day my friend!
Thanks for the kind words, Chhh!
Sorry if I sounded super down on Veen. Some of that is just me being 12 teams into the process here. For what it’s Wuertz, I still ranked him higher than Benny the Jet, who I want on as many teams as I can get him. Kinda wish I’d just put him 2 a day later . . . but I still like Veen as a prospect. Just an uphill climb in some areas, but that’s true for everyone.
Happy Turkey Day to you and yours!!
good i hope not, outside of around 1.66 or so seasons yelich (from back/shoulder stuff) not close to that period. as a prospect was a hit tool mediumish speed little power guy.
Thanks as always, these are fantastic!! Where would Juan Brito have been ranked (if anywhere) before he was swapped for Nolan Jones.
And does he go up or down in your rankings with the move to the Guardians?
Thanks, braves uk!
Hmm . . . oddly enough I think he’d go right into the Jones spot.
Great question on the Guardians thing. Coors versus player development team with potentially limited opportunity. I think it’s Cleveland hands-down for the player himself and his future, and if it weren’t for their endless depth up the middle, it’s an easy call for me.
Plus the soft factor that they were willing to give him up and Cleveland was ready to say yes please and thank you can have this formerly top prospect who would’ve seemed to be worth a lot more than this for much of his career . . . makes me think Cleveland is excited to have him. They haven’t missed much on the trade market. It’s a little unimaginable that you could break even on a trade where you have to trade Francisco Lindor bc your ownership group is . . . anywho . . . getting Gimenez and Rosario back is why they made the playoffs again so quickly.
They did really well in their Clevinger trade, too. Quantrill, Naylor, Hedges, Owen Miller . . . heck even Gabriel Arias was part of the playoff roster and inexplicably starting at first base because Miller’s early season magic had worn out.
Suspect I’m laying it on think now as my mind wanders, but I’m a bit in awe of their recent machinations.
They flat out cut Franmil Reyes!
Who saw that coming?
(They might’ve been able to use him the playoffs : )
My wife looked at me and said, “You’d probably go after Lucia instead of the Chico State girl,” and I said, “Hell yeah I would” and now I’m in trouble.
It’s such a good show : )
Makes me wonder what happens if you just shrug. Quietest agreement possible. Lil smile. Like, it’s a lose-lose scenario for you. You either pull an Albie and play-act some knight in shining armor bit she can see right through or . . . well . . . you agree that she has an accurate read on the scenario.
Thanks Itch. From the outside, it seems like the Rockies have decided that signing hitting vets helps them fill seats and occasionally sneak into the playoffs. That seems to be good enough for them. I’d rather they try to win a championship.
Good call. And, in a sense, I guess that’s not the worst approach a team could take. I mean Kris Bryant was, at the time, a good signing for publicity and maybe for attendance and jersey sales. But yeah I’m with you. I’d rather try to win money and fans by winning games. Doesn’t mean I’m avoiding free agent expenditures by any means. Just, they seem to have given up on giving that money to pitchers because nobody decent wants to pitch there. SO they have a little pile of free agent money sitting around in that bucket, and maybe that budget gets cut if they don’t spend it, so they spend it to keep that tap/trickle running.
sure bryant might’ve helped fill the seats and spend money, but wouldn’t arenado have been a much better version of that.
what i’m saying is they do opposite things at times not far off that simply don’t jibe with any kind of sense. if you want useful players worth long term contracts that cost a lot, ok, then do that.
I would guess Garrett Hampson
Yeah you’re probably right.
I’ve been riding hard for Yanquiel for a couple years now. Do you see the same 40/115 I do… come 2025… assuming Blackmon isn’t resigned through infinity and beyond? Feel free to mock me if you think it’s really closer to 50/125.
Also read a Bernabel comp on Juan Guerrero somewhere… who knows what to trust, but for some reason it feels closer to a Tovar comp, if you squint? I’m probably just wearing my purple-colored glasses, yes… reaching for blue and red scratch-offs? I’ll be watching closely this year to see if he pops.
There appears to be so much talent here, but not always the opportunity… who’s your safest bet to have a long, productive career in CO… specifically among/between the OF’s, and Bernabel?
Love the name, How far is Tovar? : )
And the optimism. Makes sense to me to get excited about Fernandez. I felt bad about leaving him off the list.
I can see the Bernabel to Tovar path. There’s some hitting instruction involved that isn’t communicating especially well all the time, and these free swingers are allowed to do exactly that until they hit a wall, if they hit a wall.
Yeah I think this system is stacked, particularly for our purposes. I’m on Benny the Jet at the moment for safest play in the outfield and in general. Should be able to contribute plus defense to help him get onto the field and stay there, even in a muddled situation.
Sean Bouchard. Sneaky, right? For 2023… 400 PAs between OF and maybe 1B? 15/15/.270/.340/.450.
Am I overrating him… does he have long-term upside that beats any of that?
Really appreciate it.
a. Great read. Loved it! Totally agree with you that pitching should be sought after, making a glut of hitters only to be sent off for…The addition of Jones, too. Why block Elehuris Montero? Were they unhappy with his defence?
b. As a ‘Zeke owner through your sage advice, I thank you. Would the player in question be Estuery Ruiz?
c. George Carlin quote of the day for November 23, 2022
‘Comedy is filled with surprise, so when I cross a line… I like to find out where the line might be and then cross it deliberately, and then make the audience happy about crossing the line with me.’
The Onion A.V. Club, November 10, 1999
a. I hadn’t considered the idea of Jones blocking Montero, but dang it’s certainly possible.
c. Every comic should learn this one by heart. Every public speaker of any kind really.