What to expect from Adael Amador in the Majors

June 9th, 2024

Sometimes a prospect gets called up to the big leagues because the organization is hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with a red-hot player.

And sometimes a prospect gets called up to the big leagues because an injury creates a hole and there aren't other viable options.

When the Rockies called up top prospect to be activated for Sunday's game, they're hoping the explanation for his first time in the big leagues will be "Both A&B."

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With Brendan Rodgers headed to the injured list with a left hamstring strain, the Rockies had limited options in terms of who to bring up. Greg Jones (Colorado's No. 22 prospect) was recently promoted, but he's never played second in competition. Guys like Aaron Schunk (COL No. 30) and Coco Montes are at Triple-A, but either would have to have been added to the 40-man roster. So the 21-year-old Amador made the most sense: he was added to the roster this offseason and, after starting to see more time on the right side of second base in 2023, has played the keystone exclusively during the '24 season.

People may look at his overall line (.194/.337/.329) and wonder why Amador, MLB's No. 32 overall prospect, was brought up from Double-A Hartford. While the season-long numbers don't stand out, he's been ridiculously hot as of late and was MLB Pipeline's second baseman on the Prospect Team of the Week for May 20-26. Over eight games in the week, the infielder smashed four homers and drove in 10 runs. He went 10-for-31 overall (.323) with a .447 on-base percentage (seven walks vs. eight strikeouts) and a .710 slugging percentage.

He hasn't been quite as torrid this week, though he did hit another three homers over five games. Since May 21, a span of 15 games, MLB's third-ranked switch-hitting prospect has a 1.045 OPS. Lightning in a bottle? We'll have to see.

Even with the tepid season numbers, some of the things that have made Amador stand out since signing with the Rockies for $1.5 million at the start of the 2019-20 international signing period have still shown up, namely his penchant for making contact, avoiding strikeouts and drawing walks. He entered the 2024 season with a career 14.2 walk percentage and just a 12.3 K rate, and it's been more of the same as he's tried to adjust to Double-A, where he scuffled last year over 10 games following a late promotion. He has 33 walks and 39 strikeouts this year, translating to a 15.8 percent walk rate and 18.7 percent K rate.

All of this data is presented to suggest that even if it's a steep learning curve for Amador upon his arrival, he'll be able to tread water due to his feel for the strike zone and knack for finding the barrel. He's long been hit-over-power in terms of his profile, so it is encouraging to see the uptick in pop over the last couple of weeks, but that's more comforting for a long-term prognosis. If he can keep getting on base and limiting the swing-and-miss, that's probably all that's fair to expect right out of the gate.

That and being a successfully aggressive baserunner. Amador doesn't have blazing speed, but he's gone 22-for-25 in stolen base attempts this year -- he leads the Eastern League in stolen bases and walks -- just four off his career high. It's hard to imagine the Rockies would ask him to run with that kind of abandon, but having a fill-in who can take the extra base is a nice bonus.

The Rockies want Amador to make the plays at second base while filling in for Rodgers, a Gold Glover, assuming he gets the bulk of the reps there until Rodgers is back. More than anything, they want to give Amador a taste of what the big leagues is like over a short time period, removing some of the pressure while exposing him to the difference between the Minors and the highest level, so that when the time comes for him to join Colorado full-time, he knows exactly what to expect.