DENVER -- Going into the year, the Rockies’ system was not highly regarded. But Elehuris Montero slugged his way into regular Major League playing time, and the younger prospects in the system have caught eyes.
Before the season, 2020 top Draft pick Zac Veen was the only player from the system in MLB Pipeline's Top 100. His strong season, which recently earned him a promotion from High-A Spokane to Double-A Hartford, pushed him to No. 24. But the quality behind him has become a bigger story.
The Rockies in recent years have concentrated on evaluating position players in their international program better, and it shows in the rankings. Shortstop Ezequiel Tovar, who would have joined Veen at the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game if not for a right groin injury just before the All-Star break, proved himself in the prospect-laden Double-A Eastern League with Hartford. During the offseason and Spring Training, buzz arose about shortstop Adael Amador, and he has played his way into MLB Pipeline's Top 100.
And what’s a ranking without an argument? The Rockies felt catcher Drew Romo should have been a Top 100 player before the season. After his strong work last year at Low-A Fresno and this year at Spokane, they’ll feel No. 64 is low for him.
Here’s a look at the Rockies' top prospects:
1. Zac Veen, OF (MLB No. 24)
2. Ezequiel Tovar, SS (MLB No. 28)
3. Adael Amador, SS (MLB No. 64)
4. Drew Romo, C (66)
5. Elehuris Montero, 3B-1B
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the preseason list:
Jump: Adael Amador, SS (Preseason: unranked | Midseason: 3) -- Talk to Rockies personnel about Amador, and it’s almost as if they repeat what they say about Tovar on the defensive side. Amador, 19, has all the defensive tools and fundamentals. And even though he is learning English, he communicates with pitchers and has a feel for where they want him. Offensively, he is a switch-hitter with a bit of power potential. But his ability to hit the ball to all fields, his control of the strike zone and his absolute disdain for strikeouts (58 strikeouts against 73 walks at Class A Fresno through Sunday) are valuable tools for a Rockies system trying to develop hitters that are less likely to succumb to the home-road differential that has always affected the franchise.
Fall: Ryan Rolison, LHP (Preseason: 5 | Midseason: 21) -- The team’s top Draft pick in 2018, Rolison hoped to bounce back from a hard-luck 2021 during which he underwent an appendectomy and sustained a fractured left hand when he was hit by a batting practice liner while coming back from the appendectomy. He finished last season at Triple-A and threw in winter ball, but his shoulder began bothering him this spring. He underwent season-ending surgery in June. The hope is that once he is healthy, Rolison will show that a Major League debut delayed is not one that’s denied.
New to the list
Here are the players added to the Top 30 from outside the organization:
6. Gabriel Hughes, RHP (Draft, first round, 10th overall)
8. Sterlin Thompson, OF (Draft, first round, 31st overall)
10. Jordan Beck, OF (Draft, first round, 38th overall)
12. Jackson Cox, RHP (Draft, second round)
19. Carson Palmquist, LHP (Draft, third round)
20. Connor Staine, RHP (Draft, fifth round)
28. Ryan Ritter, SS (Draft, fourth round)
Michael Toglia, 1B (No. 15)
It might be hard for Toglia to break in with Montero getting a lot of time at first in the big leagues, but it looks like Toglia’s power is definitely going to play (24 homers this year while just getting bumped up from pitching-friendly Hartford). It comes with a lot of swing and miss, so you know what you’re getting, but he could put some balls in the seats while offering Gold Glove-caliber defense.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.
Hit: 60 -- Zac Veen
Power: 55 -- Michael Toglia (Elehuris Montero, Benny Montgomery, Jordan Beck, Brenton Doyle, Hunter Goodman)
Run: 70 -- Benny Montgomery
Arm: 60 -- Drew Romo (Zac Veen, Ezequiel Tovar, Elehuris Montero, Benny Montgomery, Jordan Beck, Brenton Doyle, Aaron Schunk, Ryan Ritter, Julio Carreras)
Field: 70 -- Ezequiel Tovar
Fastball: 65 -- Jaden Hill
Curveball: 60 -- Jackson Cox (Ryan Rolison)
Slider: 60 -- Sam Weatherly (Carson Palmquist)
Changeup: 60 -- Jaden Hill
Control: 55 -- Chris McMahon (Ryan Rolison)