2022 Colorado Rockies Top 5 Prospectsby Andersen Pickard February 22, 2022 0 comments
The Colorado Rockies are struggling at the big league level. They traded Nolan Arenado last offseason and are now witnessing Jon Gray and Trevor Story sign with other teams, giving them only one compensatory pick in return. With that said, they have plenty to be excited about in terms of up-and-coming prospects. Armed with many talented minor leaguers and more high draft picks on the way, this organization should feel good about its future, assuming it can properly develop and manage some of its younger athletes.
Undoubtedly, the Rockies won’t be a threat in 2022. They lost two of their best players this offseason and haven’t shown any indications that they’ll sign a big name in free agency. However, the upcoming season is far from a lost cause. It will be important for Colorado to use this year to solidify its top prospects and prepare for them to join a roster of young talent in the coming seasons.
Make sure to check out all of our other Top Prospect Articles.
1. Zac Veen, Outfielder
The Rockies drafted Veen in the first round of the 2019 draft. Fresh out of high school, Veen didn’t actually make his pro debut until 2021 thanks to the pandemic. With that said, when he did take the field, heads turned. Through 106 games at Single-A last season, the left-handed hitter slashed .301/.399/.501 with 15 home runs, 75 RBI, 64 walks, 126 strikeouts, and 36 stolen bases.
Veen possesses a big frame, plus bat speed, and a gorgeous swing, all of which should bode nicely when it comes time for him to show off in the thin Denver air. The 20-year-old is also an above-average runner and fielder with an arm that is strong enough to keep him in center field (or right field, if necessary) for the long run. Quite simply, Veen is a talented all-around prospect who has the makings of a franchise superstar. Rockies fans should be excited about his eventual rise to the majors.
2. Benny Montgomery, Outfielder
Montgomery is another prep outfielder whom the Rockies snagged in the first round. Drafted in 2021, the right-hander slashed .340/.404/.383 with six RBI, five walks, nine strikeouts, and five stolen bases through 14 games at rookie ball last year. You can’t judge him on such a small sample size, but Colorado has to be impressed with the preliminary results he demonstrated.
Although the aforementioned slash line wouldn’t suggest it, Montgomery is a glove-first player. He uses his elite speed, impressive fielding ability, and strong arm to stand out as a star center field prospect. He should play up the middle for a while. Offensively, he has consistently shown a capability to put the ball in play and does a good job working to the opposite field. However, his unique swing carries concerns that his success at the plate won’t translate to the higher levels of pro ball. He also doesn’t project to have a whole lot of power, either.
3. Drew Romo, Catcher
The Rockies should feel very excited about Romo, whom they selected 35th overall in 2020. Drafted out of high school, the switch-hitting backstop put together a .314/.345/.439 slash line with six homers, 47 RBI, 19 walks, 50 strikeouts, and 23 stolen bases through 79 games at Single-A last year.
On both sides of the plate, Romo has a really good feel for the bat in his hands. He’s not a big power guy, but he has no problem putting the ball in play. Although Romo’s offensive makeup is very good, it’s his defense that will have Rockies fans drooling. The backstop is considered an elite defender in terms of his top-notch pitch receiving and blocking capabilities. His size and athleticism have also allowed him to be super quick, giving him very impressive pop times. There is little doubt in my mind that Romo is the catcher of the Rockies’ future.
4. Ryan Rolison, Left-Handed Pitcher
The Rockies drafted Rolison out of college in the first round of the 2018 draft, meaning he shouldn’t be too far away from making his MLB Debut. With appendicitis sidelining him for part of the year, the southpaw made just 16 starts between four levels of the minors in 2021, including 10 at Triple-A Albuquerque. While pitching for Albuquerque, he went 2-2 with a 5.91 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, and .280 OBA. He walked 16 batters while striking out 45.
There were some concerns about Rolison coming out of Ole Miss, but the Rockies ultimately fell in love with his ceiling. The southpaw has a strong repertoire headlined by an upper-70s curveball that has 12-6 action and some effective bite. This pitch’s dominance is nothing new. As a collegiate prospect, it was clear that the breaking ball was Rollison’s best offering. He also has good command of his fastball, but its velocity fell from around 93 mph to 91 mph during the pandemic. Finally, Rolison has also worked on developing a changeup that he can add to his arsenal.
5. Ezequiel Tovar, Shortstop
In Tovar, the Rockies have found a defender who should stick at shortstop for his entire career. Signed for $800,000 on his 16th birthday in 2017, the 6-foot-tall right-hander has fared well throughout the lower levels of the minors. Between Single- and High-A in 2021, the 20-year-old slashed .287/.322/.475 with 15 homers, 72 RBI, 17 walks, 57 strikeouts, and 24 stolen bases. Although his walk rate was quite low for a 102-game sample size, so was his strikeout rate.
Offensively, Tovar is certainly a bat-over-power player. He has the ability to hit the ball in all parts of the strike zone but won’t barrel one up and out of the park too often. Not only does he put the ball in play, but he also has solid speed on the basepaths. There’s no guarantee that he will maintain his speed as he continues to grow and develop, but his running ability is above average for the time being. Most importantly, though, Tovar is a very reliable, smooth fielder with a high IQ, strong arm, and great range. Coaches, teammates, and fans alike can breathe a sigh of relief when the ball is headed in his direction. He has the potential to become an everyday shortstop in the future and should sniff big-league action early in 2023.
What Does the Future Hold?
Clearly, the Rockies are in a good place going forward. They have several position players with strong gloves and impressive offensive profiles, headlined by Veen and Montgomery. Plus, their list of impact players should only grow as they continue to hold high draft picks for a couple more seasons. The biggest concern with the Rockies’ pipeline is their pitching. Rolison was the only pitcher mentioned here, and his shaky 2021 almost dropped him outside the top-five. Jaden Hill and Chris McMahon are some of the other promising arms in this system, but their sample sizes are too small to garner a vote of confidence. Going forward, the Rockies need to focus on developing pitching, especially considering Colorado isn’t a preferred location for free-agent arms.
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