5 Rockies prospects on the radar for '24

October 10th, 2023

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.

What will the Rockies’ farm system provide in 2024?

Even though the Rockies struggled to their fifth straight sub-.500 season, products of the Minor League system contributed on offense and showed above-average defense in 2023. Shortstop Ezequiel Tovar, corner outfielder Nolan Jones and center fielder Brenton Doyle earned spots in the daily lineup, and Rockies No. 12 prospect Hunter Goodman had a cameo at season’s end, mostly in right field.

Looking ahead, pitching remains a major question because of a stunning run of injuries to recent high-round picks. But several position players seem poised to claim spots in the club’s lineup.

3 players who forced their way onto the radar this year

INF Adael Amador, 20:  Amador, No. 21 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 list, was chosen as the top prospect in the High-A Northwest League this year for his work at Spokane. He missed time with a hamate injury and had a recurrence of hand soreness after being promoted to Double-A Hartford.

Tovar’s presence spells a move to second base, but the Rockies have a 2022 Gold Glove winner in Brendan Rodgers there. So there is middle-infield depth that can help the big club or be used in a trade for pitching. Either way, Amador is developing Major League skills.

“He’s an instinctual player,” Minor League field coordinator Mark Strittmatter said. “And it’s two years in a row that he has walked more than he’s struck out. He’s got a chance to be a special offensive player with his bat-to-ball skills and his approach at the plate.”

OF Yanquiel Fernandez, 20: Shortly after a strong start at Spokane and an appearance in the Futures Game, Fernandez (No. 49 in the Top 100) was promoted to Hartford, where he struggled to a .206 batting average as one of the youngest players in the Eastern League. But he managed eight home runs and 10 doubles in his 56 Double-A games.

“We were very young in Hartford this year, and we knew going in that it would be a learning experience for the entire group,” Rockies Minor League hitting coordinator Nic Wilson said. “That’s what we’ve been talking about, coming back next year and being ready to go.”

OF Jordan Beck, 22: The Northwest League Most Valuable Player after knocking 20 homers in 76 games, Beck (No. 83) hit .240 with five homers and a healthy .342 on-base percentage at Hartford. But Beck, the No. 38 overall pick in 2022, arrived with a mature offensive approach that he honed at the University of Tennessee.

“If I’m getting the right pitches to swing at, I set myself up for success,” Beck said during the season. “At times, you won’t see pitches as well. You can’t be too harsh on yourself, because it’s always going to swing back around. For me staying level-headed and smooth all the way through -- no real highs, no real lows, but right in the middle -- is probably my strength.”

2 players poised for a breakout

C Drew Romo, 22: Romo struggled early at Hartford and lost his Top 100 spot, but a late-season surge allowed him to advance to Triple-A by season’s end. Romo also changed his defensive setup, with extensive use of a one-knee stance, and should be comfortable with that by ‘24. With 2023 All-Star Elias Díaz under contract through ‘24, the Rockies can afford to let Romo show them when he is ready.

SS Ryan Ritter, 22: A collegiate Gold Glove shortstop at Kentucky in 2022, Ritter arrived as a fourth-round pick who -- word was -- had a ways to go with the bat. But this year at Single-A Fresno, Ritter’s 1.011 OPS and 18 homers in 65 games earned him California League Player of the Year honors. He added six more homers at Spokane.

1 big question for next season

Which pitchers will stay healthy and develop? 

Because of their Tommy John surgeries, it is unlikely that 2022 first-round pick Gabriel Hughes, ‘22 second-rounder Jackson Cox and international program gem Jordy Vargas will pitch in games until 2024 instructional ball.

For now, the top three pitchers on the Rockies' Top 30 -- righty Chase Dollander (No. 3), lefty Sean Sullivan (No. 13) and righty Jack Mahoney (No. 14) -- were selected in the 2023 Draft.