5 Rox prospects on the rise

October 18th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Thomas Harding’s Rockies Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The Rockies were able to give several organization products Major League action this season, but the excitement about the farm system centers on young prospects such as Zac Veen, who can barely go a day without creating a highlight in the Arizona Fall League. Veen is No. 23 in the MLB Pipeline Top 100, a list that also includes shortstop Ezequiel Tovar (No. 27 -- with big league experience at the end of the season, to boot), shortstop Adael Amador (No. 61), and catcher Drew Romo (No. 63).

However, there are more prospects gaining notice. Here is a look at some players whose 2022 performances have attracted notice, along with player development director Chris Forbes’ assessments.

3 players who forced their way onto the radar this year

Hunter Goodman, C-1B (fourth round, 2021 out of the University of Memphis)
A knack for making quick adjustments made Goodman the Rockies’ MLB Pipeline Prospect of the Year. He managed a .960 OPS at Class A Fresno and a .940 at High-A Spokane, and he had two home runs in a 12-game stint at Double-A Hartford to end the season. His 36 combined home runs were three shy of the Minor League lead.

“Him going from the California League and dominating to Spokane, there is an adjustment,” Forbes said. “And he made it, big-time. Putting him up into the Eastern League, which is such a tough league, there’s a huge adjustment, too. I was really happy with him.”

Case Williams, RHP (fourth round, 2020 out of Douglas County High School in Castle Rock, Colo.)
It has been a circuitous road home for Williams, who was drafted, sent to the Reds in the deal for reliever Robert Stephenson (now with the Pirates), then re-acquired at the 2021 Trade Deadline for reliever Mychal Givens. He was a combined 11-5 with a 4.21 ERA at Fresno, Spokane and Hartford. He struck out 12 in six innings in his lone Double-A start.

“Every part of the professionalism -- from how his body looked, how his stuff played, how he was looking at command and the intent that he had with every pitch that left his hand -- it was such a growth year for him,” Forbes said. “He’s got an old-school mentality. If he’s starting, don’t come out there until the seventh. He doesn’t want to give up the ball.

“His fastball was consistently firmer. He was getting that mid to upper 90s every outing, bumping 97 but pitching 94-95. At the point of the season when everybody seems to slide down, his slider and the usability of the slider took an uptick. It’s got a chance to separate him, and the feel for the changeup came, exponentially.”

Julio Carreras, SS (signed in February 2018 for $15,000 out of Sabana Grande de Boya, Dominican Republic)
Carreras, 22, the Rockies’ No. 28 Pipeline prospect, has the look of a major bargain after leading the Minors in doubles with a combined 42 at Spokane and Hartford. He signed later than other top prospects, but the tradeoff is a take-charge quality that could have him moving up in short order.

“The last couple of years, he’s shown some ability in the leadership category,” Forbes said. “He loves to play, and he comes from an area, even in the Dominican where there just isn’t money and it’s tough. Seeing him, the way he goes about it and engages other people, it’s impressive.

“We got him into the Eastern League, where he’ll start next year. He’ll understand the speed of the game is better. That lofting double that you hit into the gap in the Northwest League, some dude on the 40-man for the Mets is going chase it down.”

2 possible breakout players to watch in 2022

Benny Montgomery, OF (first round, eighth overall, in 2021 out of Red Land High School in Lewisberry, Pa.)
Montgomery’s progress was slowed by a quadriceps injury that sidelined him for all but two games over a two-month period early in the season. But from his return for good on Sept. 6 to season’s end, Montgomery -- the team’s No. 6 Pipeline prospect -- slashed .319/.405./.508 with four home runs, 18 doubles, three triples and 34 RBIs in 45 games for Fresno.

“I’m intrigued by the questions he’s asking,” Forbes said. “I’m intrigued by the parts of the process he’s refined on his own. The communication piece all grew up this year. The last six weeks, and when we played San Jose in the playoffs, he was the best player on the field. He did something every game. If he wasn’t hitting, he'd run down a ball in the gap. To see him grow, that was fantastic.”

Joe Rock, LHP (second round in 2021, Ohio University)
After being drafted, Rock, the team’s No. 16 Pipeline prospect and the MLB Pipeline organization pitcher of the year, appeared in four Rookie League games in 2021. This year, he was deemed advanced enough to skip Fresno. Development at Spokane was rapid -- a 1.226 WHIP and 109 strikeouts against 45 walks in 107 2/3 innings. He finished the year at Hartford. He’ll return, and he can put himself on the Major League radar by improving his secondary pitches.

“It was a solid year for Joe,” Forbes said. “He’s still working through much in the consistency department, especially with the slider.”

1 big question for next year
Were the final weeks of 2022 a sign that toolsy outfielder Brenton Doyle can quickly help fill the center-field gap at the Major League level?

A fourth-round pick in 2019 out of Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.Va., Doyle was a scout’s dream -- a discovery out of a Division II school with as much physical talent as any big-time player. But early in the ’22 season at Hartford, the tools were muted by a penchant for chasing pitches out of the zone. But from June 23 to season’s end (including nine eye-popping games at Triple-A Albuquerque), Doyle slugged .553, compiled an .879 OPS and hit 19 home runs. There was even internal consideration to bring him to the Majors for the final days.

The Rockies seek a center fielder to boost the Major League lineup at the start of 2023, but the future could be in the system. While most eyes are on Veen, Doyle could earn his shot first.