A Rockies prospect with 'intriguing power potential'
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.
Rockies No. 13 prospect Grant Lavigne looks the part, at 6-foot-4 and his current muscled-up weight of 245 pounds.
Lavigne, a 23-year-old first baseman, batted .340 and posted a .966 OPS through his first 15 Arizona Fall League games with the Salt River Rafters, earning an invitation to Sunday’s Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game (he walked in his only plate appearance).
“The competition is definitely top notch,” Lavigne said. “The biggest thing for me down here is sticking to my routine, not getting away from it, and sticking to my plan at the plate. Based on the pitcher, I'm trying to develop a plan of how I want to attack.”
Now, Lavigne is looking to boost his power production.
The 42nd overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft out of Bedford (N.H.) High School, Lavigne has posted a .274 batting average and .384 on-base percentage in 414 Minor League games. But the 10 homers he hit during the 2022 Minor League season -- five in 68 games at High-A Spokane, five more in 57 games at Double-A Hartford -- represent a career single-season high. Teams ask for more fence-busting from a first baseman.
While you don’t see big home run totals on the stat sheet, Lavigne has plenty of unseen attributes that could eventually lead to more baseballs leaving the yard. Lavigne receives high marks for adhering to his hitting approach and preparation routines, and he is evaluated based on how he is sticking to the process.
“We had a meeting at the end of the year with the hitting coordinator, Darin Everson, and went over some of the numbers this season and what I wanted to accomplish over the Fall League,” said Lavigne, who has one AFL homer. “Part of that was working on driving the ball in the air with authority. My routine in the cage is based off that.
“I’ve added some stuff, doing some work off the machine, trying to drive the ball in the air and avoid balls on the ground to the pull side. We’re doing work that’s realistic to the game.”
There is time for Lavigne to develop. The Rockies have veteran C.J. Cron, and two emerging players, Elehuris Montero and Michael Toglia, at first base at the Major League level. This is the first year Lavigne is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, but it’s unlikely the Rockies will protect him on the 40-man roster when it is due on Nov. 15. A team drafting him from the Rockies essentially would have to keep him on its active roster throughout the 2023 season, and give him the tall task of learning to hit home runs in the Majors.
So the likely scenario is Lavigne returns to Hartford to start 2023. Double-A was a challenge last year. After hitting .315 at Spokane, Lavigne hit .245 with 66 strikeouts in 242 plate appearances at Hartford. All in all, the Rockies see a hitter who is on track to make a leap.
“Each facet of his game has improved,” Rockies player development director Chris Forbes said. “He has a feel for what he is doing in the batter’s box and still has intriguing power potential. He’s still learning to finish balls and catch balls out front [a key to creating the backspin that increases launch angle]. He has good raw power that we think will translate soon.”
Warren Schaeffer, who is managing Lavigne at Salt River, says Lavigne has kept the rest of his game steady while trying to find power.
“I worked with him a couple years ago in instructional league and he’s come a long way,” said Schaeffer, who on Monday was promoted from Triple-A Albuquerque manager to Major League third-base coach. “What stands out is he’s a well-rounded baseball player. He runs the bases well. He takes a good at-bat, and his defense and footwork around the bag have improved. He’s a pro. He’s trying to work on hitting the ball in the air to the pull side, but he’s a true hitter and he should never lose that.”