No. 27 prospect Veen invited to Rockies camp

January 27th, 2023

DENVER -- Rockies outfield prospect Zac Veen -- No. 27 on the latest MLB Pipeline Top 100 list -- will be vying for a Major League debut this season. That process will begin in Major League camp.

The 21-year-old Veen, the ninth overall pick in the 2020 Draft, was one of 22 players who have received non-roster invitations to Major League camp, the Rockies announced Friday. Big league camp will included three top 100 prospects – shortstop Ezequiel Tovar (No. 25), who finished last season in the Majors and will be given every chance to win the regular job this season, and catcher Drew Romo (No. 84). 

Camp invites also included nine players with Major League experience – relief pitchers Fernando Abad, Logan Allen, Ty Black (with the Rockies last season), Matt Koch, Josh Rogers, Phillips Valdéz and T.J. Zeuch, plus utility men Harold Castro and Cole Tucker.

The Rockies plan to start the left-handed-hitting Veen, who was chosen as the Arizona Fall League Offensive Player of the Year in 2022, at Double-A Hartford. Last year, Veen posted an .807 OPS with 11 home runs and 50 stolen bases in 92 games at High-A Spokane. He finished the year by hitting .177 in 34 games at Hartford, as the Rockies wanted to give him a taste of the higher level. But with the strong AFL performance and some familiarity with Double-A, Veen has a chance to impress and move quickly.

Romo, a switch-hitter taken 35th overall in 2020, battled hand injuries last season and ended up with 57 games behind the plate and 40 as designated hitter while batting .254 with five homers at Spokane. Healthier in 2021, Romo batted .314 with a .345 OBP in 79 games.

Romo is part of what may be a rarity, not only in Rockies history but in baseball overall – prospect depth at catcher. The Rockies are looking to Willie MacIver, a Futures Game participant in 2021, as the main catcher at Triple-A Albuquerque. Jonathan Morales hit .308 in 86 games there last season while Hunter Goodman knocked 36 home runs in 134 games across three levels in '22. Braxton Fulford had a .380 OBP and an .829 OPS at Single-A Fresno, and Ronaiker Palma turned heads by hitting .300 in 65 games at High-A Spokane. All figure to be prominent up-and-comers in the Rockies system over the next few seasons.

Infielder Coco Montes posted an .859 OPS in 111 games at Triple-A, and first baseman Grant Lavigne hit a combined .283 at Spokane and Double- A Hartford.

Three pitchers invited could earn Major League consideration this season – righty starters Jeff Criswell (obtained from the Athletics for reliever Chad Smith) and Case Williams, who stuck out 135 in 128 innings across three levels last season; and righty reliever Stephen Jones, who fanned 67 in 58 innings at Hartford.