Double-A Hartford’s Michael Toglia has kept his feet solidly on the ground amid the buzz and scrutiny of being a first-round Rockies Draft pick, holding the No. 8 position on the MLB Pipeline list of the organization’s prospects and sparking comparisons (at least defensively) with club icon Todd Helton.
In fact, because Toglia’s feet are literally more solidly planted in the ground -- an adjustment he has made since the season began -- he’s beginning to show the power that’s a part of his promise.
The switch-hitting Toglia, 23, swatted his third home run in four games Friday night in an all-important, 5-2 Yard Goats victory over Yankees affiliate Somerset -- one that left Hartford needing one more win in the series to earn a first-half division title. Also in that game, Rockies No. 3 prospect Ezequiel Tovar launched a double off rehabbing Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman.
Toglia has 14 home runs this season -- including six in 21 June games. While his .218 batting average and 94 strikeouts show there is work to do, this month's .341 on-base percentage and slightly lowered strikeout rate shows progress.
So his accelerated home run rate is much like the lowered strikeouts and increased walks -- a byproduct of improvements in his thought process and an almost undetectable physical adjustment that’s linked to how he is thinking.
“My next step to being a power hitter is being a complete hitter,” said Toglia. “Power hitters are known to just run into balls here and there and not really be consistent. I want to hit balls hard, but get on base and be a little bit more consistent.”
Recent meetings with Rockies hitting coordinator Darin Everson led to two adjustments -- thinking middle of the field to the opposite gap and trusting his strapping 6-foot-5 frame to juice pitches left inside, and sinking his feet into the ground just before the pitch as a reminder to draw strength from his legs.
When it all comes together, watch out.
“When you carry that much mass and you can generate it with a good direction into the baseball, it’s going to travel,” Hartford manager Chris Denorfia said. “The key for him is just his barrel accuracy and pitch selection. As soon as he figures that part of the game out, he’s going to take off.”
The fielding has been as advertised. When Helton rejoined the organization as a special assistant to the GM, he told the media he was excited to work with Toglia, who has done nothing to lessen the Rockies’ belief that he has Gold Glove potential.
And performing during a weekend when the games have significance is a plus.
“It’s definitely a lot more fun,” Toglia said. “The other night it rained, so all the pitchers were with us in the dugout and there was so much energy. It’s all about doing something to help the team win.”