High times in Denver, these are not, at least not in a baseball or football sense. They do still have the Nuggets, so that’s nice. Baseball fans are in a sticky spot though, wanting their team to succeed while somewhere in the back of their minds suspecting the best path forward involves dismantling the whole thing, bringing in a new front office with a long-term vision, trading the left side of the infield, and finding out what they have in the assets they’ve allowed to stockpile and degrade from a perceived-value perspective.
Format: Position Player | Age on 4/1/2021 | Highest level played | ETA
1. OF Zac Veen | 19 | HS | 2029 unless something changes (kidding)
Veen is the rare plus-everything type. An uppercut lefty with tremendous explosion, his max-barrel speed of 78.107 mph landed him in the 96th percentile, according to perfectgame.org.
He’s an easy top five pick in first-year-player drafts this winter if you believe he’s good enough to overcome his circumstances, and he is perhaps the highest-upside piece in this year’s amateur draft. On a related note, I think the Rockies need to go the other way with their minor league affiliates, if possible. Most exist in wild offensive environments, except for AA Hartford which skews heavily toward pitching, so they don’t have any neutral home fields on the way up and then they get dropped into Coors. Well, they don’t get dropped in because this front office has little confidence in their own. No offense to Matt Kemp, but it’s a little much to be giving him at bats in a lost season while your young players ride the pine. I only travel this tangent to worry over the main reason to pass on Veen this draft season. I’d still like to have him on all my teams, but it’s weird to be rooting for a front office to get its walking papers.
Welp, that’s the list for our purposes.
Kidding, again, haha, kind of.
Behind every joke and whatnot.
2. SS Ryan Vilade | 22 | A+ | 2022
The Daywalker had a nice season last we saw him in 2019, swiping 24 bags in 128 games while posting an impressive 9.5/16.2 K/BB rate. Has just enough arm for short but will need some help from defensive positioning to make it work at the highest levels. Probably not a fantasy factor anytime soon but could help in the SB category if the playing time breaks his way.
3. 1B Michael Toglia | 22 | A- | 2023
A 6’5” switch hitter with plus hit and power tools, Toglia could be a fantasy boon in Coors. His rates in low A after being selected 23rd overall in 2019 are strong, especially his 15.9 percent walk rate. He’d never hit well with wooden bats in the Cape Cod League, so his nine home runs in and .369 OBP in 41 Northwest League games was nice to see.
4. SS Adael Amador | 17 | NA | 2025
The jewel of Colorado’s 2019 international class signing for $1.5 million, Amador brings big-game experience and a sweet swing from either side of the plate along with the potential to stay up the middle on defense. He’s been the starting shortstop for the Dominican Republic’s under 15 squad and helped lead the team to a share of the title in the Pan Am Championship of 2017. He just might be available in your dynasty leagues if you’re looking to find a high upside flier to flip once/if he enjoys a solid stateside debut.
5. SS Eddy Diaz | 21 | R | 2023
Diaz seems unlikely to become a big league regular, but speed is on the wane, and Myles Straw was ownable in a lot of different formats last year. Diaz isn’t anywhere close to that just yet, but his carrying tool is the rarest item on the game board, and he hit .331 with 20 steals in just 39 Pioneer League games in 2019, and that’s with him getting thrown out nine times. That kind of run rate is ridiculous and likely unsustainable, but I’d much rather see a minor leaguer keep trying even as he’s getting thrown out. A man of lesser confidence would stop trying so often.
6. 3B Aaron Schunk | 23 | A | 2022
A second round pick in 2019 (62nd overall), Schunk has hit for average at every level but only accessed his power as a Junior at Georgia after slugging .374 as a Freshman and .411 as a Sophomore. The SEC can be incredibly tough on young bats, so it’s to Schunk’s credit that he posted a .339/.373/.600 line as a Junior and got himself drafted so high after a pretty mediocre start to his college career. He’s 6’2” 205 lbs and solid enough with the glove/arm to stay at third base, giving a good chance to overperform his draft stock if he can keep making contact while incorporating his base.
7. OF Brenton Doyle | 22 | R | 2023
A 6’3” 200 pound centerfielder who blasted through the Pioneer League (.383/.477/.611), Doyle possesses average or better tools across the board and represents the best fantasy topside in the latter half of this list. He’ll be well behind the age curve and never played in the big wooden bat leagues, having spent his college career in relative obscurity at Shepherd.
8. SS Julio Carreras | 21 | R | 2024
Man these age-to-level numbers look wild this year. We’ll have to reprogram our minds to only lightly ding a guy for being a little behind that curve, if we ding them at all. Carreras is a fine prospect as a left-side infielder thanks to average hit and power tools with plus speed, but a 21-year-old who’s never left rookie ball is not ideal.
9. 1B Colton Welker | 23 | AA | 2022
Once a ballyhooed prospect who’d pull some semi-significant weight in dynasty trade negotiations, Welker’s perceived value has backed up a fair bit. As is typical of young Rockies, he’s posted impressive numbers every step of the way until reaching AA Hartford, the proving ground, where he slashed .252/.313/.408. On the plus side, he continues to minimize strikeouts (17.3 percent at AA) and walk at a decent clip (8.1 percent), so there’s reason for optimism, especially as he’ll be back in a hitter’s haven in 2021.
10. 1B Grant Lavigne | 21 | A | 2023
Skater boy became a first-year-player draft phenomenon after an incredible pro debut in the Pioneer League that saw him steal 12 bases and pop six home runs in 59 games, slashing .350/.477/.519 along the way. He came crashing back to earth in 2019, slugging just .327 and getting caught stealing 9 times in 17 attempts across 126 games. Sadly for early investors and Rockies fans alike, I think he’s closer to his South Atlantic League self than what he showed at the Pioneer launching pad parks. He’s still young enough to make changes, but he’s all of 6’4” 220, and raw hand speed could be an impediment in the long term.
Thanks for reading!
I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.