Writing up the Colorado Rockies top prospects each offseason is interesting, to say the least. This system is down from the last few years as they’ve graduated Brendan Rodgers, Garrett Hampson, and Sam Hilliard among others. But are any of those guys regulars for the Rockies yet? Ha! You already know the answer to that question. A term I’ve coined as “Rock-blocking” has led many to shy away from Colorado prospect in fear of the playing time conundrum that will likely happen down the road. But let’s worry about that when we have to. This system does have some intriguing talent throughout, especially for deeper dynasty leagues. Leading the way is a top-20 overall prospect and one of the top first base prospects in the game.
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Colorado Rockies Top Prospects For Dynasty Leagues
1. Zac Veen, OF
If it wasn’t for Spencer Torkelson being such an offensive monster, Zac Veen would be my #1 for 2020/21 FYPDs. Easily the best prep hitter in the class, Veen brings a thunderous bat to this Colorado system and immediately steps in as their top overall prospect. When you watch Veen play or take batting practice, Cody Bellinger comps spring to mind. Those comps have been thrown on him already too, which is both incredibly lofty and shows what type of hitter he has the chance of becoming. And beyond his offensive capabilities, everything you hear about his work ethic, makeup, and baseball IQ are positive. That’s very encouraging to hear in general, especially about a prospect who just turned 19 back in December.
From earlier today, Zac Veen (2020 FL) found the barrel often. Big, physical prospect with a gorgeous lefthanded swing. Upside is vast; significant power projection. #mlbdraft pic.twitter.com/7Rlrsi3Me9
— Vinnie Cervino (@vcervinoPG) September 15, 2019
First and foremost, the raw power Veen brings to the plate is enticing. He’s already shown easy plus power and could wind up as a 70-grade power bat in time with plus bat speed and a swing that generates natural loft. Outside of his 30-plus homer potential, Veen has shown an advanced feel for hitting with exceptional barrel skills and can really drive the ball hard to all fields. While his power is his calling card, Veen has the contact skills and advanced approach to develop into a 55-hit outfielder as well, capable of hitting around .280 with a .350+ OBP. Add in average speed to top it all off and we have a hitter capable of .280/35/10 seasons while playing half his games at Coors Field. I’ll sign up for this profile every damn day of the week.
2. Michael Toglia, 1B
This might be the biggest dropoff from 1st to 2nd in any one system. That’s no knock on Michael Toglia though who is a borderline top-100 overall prospect in my rankings. Toglia bashed his way into the first round of the 2019 draft after finishing his final season at UCLA with a .314/.392/.624 line with 17 home runs in 63 games. This after a .336/.449/.588 line with 11 home runs in 59 games the season before. After the draft, Toglia struggled to his for average in the short-season Single-A Northwest League, but still hit nine dingers in his 41 games at the level.
At 6’5/225, Toglia fits your typical first base/corner outfielder role. As a switch-hitter, Toglia is much more advanced from the left side, both in terms of contact skills and power. Using an open stance, the swing is pretty compact from both sides with plus bat speed and decent loft. He’s shown around an average hit tool overall with plus raw power, but again, he’s more potent from the left side of the plate. I’m loving this bat as the future first baseman for the Rockies and getting to play half his games at Coors Field, but the inadequacies from the right side are a bit concerning.
3. Brenton Doyle, OF
As a 4th round pick out of little-known Shepherd University in West Virginia, not many knew about Brenton Doyle following the 2019 draft. But give it time. This is a name I suspect many will know after 2021 if he hits like he’s capable of. Out of all the prospects in this Colorado system, Doyle has the best blend of power and speed in my eyes and maybe the only one to grade as above-average or better in both with the raw power pushing plus. Doyle consistently displayed that power/speed blend in his 159 collegiate games, combining for 32 homers and 52 steals with a .380/.438/.647 slash line.
That wasn’t against top collegiate competition in the MEC however, so take it with a grain of salt, but Doyle hasn’t skipped a beat in the minors either, slashing .383/.477/.611 with eight homers and 17 steals in 51 games. Yes, he was old for the level, but this type of power/speed blend cannot be ignored, especially in this organization. With plus raw power and above-average speed, Doyle’s potential fantasy impact is noteworthy. It’s all going to be up to the hit tool and if he can make enough contact to fully utilize that power/speed blend. While I don’t expect .300+ to continue, I believe he winds up around a 50-grade hit tool capable of hitting around .270-.280 annually with a .340+ OBP as well. This is a name to target now in dynasty leagues before his price tag soars.
4. Ryan Vilade, 3B/OF
Admittedly, I’m not as high on Ryan Vilade as most. The two main reasons behind that are his mediocre power and atrocious defense. So far as a professional, Vilade has made a whopping 63 errors at shortstop in 229 games for a .935 fielding percentage. He’s been even worse at the hot corner with 14 errors and a .875 fielding percentage in 46 games. His defensive inefficiencies at shortstop have pushed him off the position into a 3B/OF role and I’m not even sure he can stick at the hot corner either or think he has the arm for it. If Vilade is an outfielder, his profile looks a lot less appealing.
Offensively, there’s nothing that stands out about Vilade’s profile. At the plate, he’s displayed a solid all-fields approach and can barrel up pitches regularly, but that approach, along with a swing that lacks much loft, has limited how much his above-average raw power has played in games. With more loft, I could see a .275/20 hitter in Coors that can add 10-15 steals as well, but that’s likely the ceiling here. But still, a 50/55-hit, 50/55-power, 50-speed player in Coors Field can still provide some fantasy value.
5. Aaron Schunk, 3B
As I was writing up this piece, I saw that Aaron Schunk’s Twitter handle is “RealSlimSchunky” and I almost bumped him up a spot for it. That’s an 80-grade Twitter handle right there. But when it comes to the player himself, Schunk is what I classify as solid but unspectacular for fantasy purposes. Another label could be “better in real-life than fantasy.” Schunk is a very good defender at the hot corner with a strong arm that should keep him at the position longterm and possibly take over for Arenado one day.
Offensively, the profile isn’t as exciting. Above-average contact skills lead the way here and Schunk has shown advanced zone awareness, keeping his strikeout rate low. However, he only posted a 4.6% walk rate in college and 7.3% in the minors in 2019. The contact skills here could lead to a .280ish AVG in Coors Field, but Schunk loses value in OBP formats. He also can be a bit pull-happy which could be exploited as he climbs into the upper minors and faces more advanced pitching. As for his power and speed, Schunk’s raw power is average or a tick above with below-average speed. In Coors, I could see him pushing 20-homers at peak, but not much more than that.
6. Chris McMahon, RHP
We’ve finally made it to the first pitching prospect on this list. Taking the organization and future home ballpark out of things for a second, I actually like Chris McMahon as a pitcher. His fastball sits in the low-90’s with good life and can touch the mid-90’s at times. His above-average command of the pitch certainly helps. Outside of the heater, McMahon will throw an above-average mid-80’s slider that he can land for strikes and bury below the zone to generate whiffs, but this isn’t even his best secondary offering. That award goes to McMahon’s easy plus changeup that might even be better than plus thanks to the velocity separation, command, and movement he gets with it.
This type of three pitch arsenal with above-average command and control could make McMahon a mid-rotation arm at the highest level. But then again, he’s in Colorado where great pitchers are merely good, and good pitchers turn into average or mediocre arms. With that said, McMahon is an arm I’ve bought into more and more as I see more video of him. And hi ability to limit the longball will definitely play in his favor down the road.
7. Ryan Rolison, LHP
You can argue that Ryan Rolison is the best arm in this system, and some rankings will reflect that. But when comparing him and McMahon, the floors are similar with McMahon having slightly higher upside. Rolison looks the part of a stable back-end starter that can keep his ratios in check and pitch a good amount of innings. What stands out most when watching Rolison is his above-average to plus command and control. That control has ticked up in the minors as Rolison has pounded the zone more consistently than he did at Ole Miss and has cut his walk rate down from 9.9% in college to 7.2% in the minors.
Absolutely LOVE this sequence by #Rockies LHP prospect Ryan Rolison 🔥
I am very high on Rolison for many reasons — Being able to locate three pitch types in almost any count always catches my eye👀
— Cory ⚾️tt (@cory5ott) April 19, 2020
As for his arsenal, Rolison features a bunch of average offerings with the exception of his plus curveball. Thrown in the high-70s to low-80’s with plus spin, Rolison can really make hitters look silly with this pitch when he stays on top of it and bends it low in the zone or below for the whiff. Outside of that, his low-90’s fastball is average but maybe a tick above due to his command of the pitch, and the changeup lacks a ton of movement but has decent velocity separation. There’s also a slider but I wouldn’t even call that fringe-average as it doesn’t feature much movement. I’d be more excited about Rolison if he could improve his fastball or changeup. Or, you know, didn’t pitch in Colorado.
8. Julio Carreras, 3B/SS
A 2018 International signing out of the Dominican Republic, Julio Carreras has held his own so far in the minors while playing three infield positions. At 6’2/190, Carreras has a strong and athletic frame with close to plus bat speed from the right side. During his time in the minors thus far, Carreras has posted a .292 average with a 9.5% walk rate and 18.5% strikeout rate. The contact skills are around average and that approach is very encouraging to see from someone of his age and experience level.
As for the power and speed, Carreras has shown around average raw power that plays below-average in games as he uses more of a line drive, gap to gap approach. Added loft could push him into the 15-homer range at peak, but as of now, he’s more in the 8-12 homer camp. A 50-hit, 45-power third baseman doesn’t sound that enticing, but Carreras brings above-average speed to the table as well. He’s used that speed to swipe 30 bags in 135 games between 2018 and 2019, but needs to improve his pitcher reads and be more selective in when he goes, as a 58.8% success rate isn’t going to give you the green light often as he advanced up the ladder. Carreras is worth monitoring and could move up my rankings if more power develops.
9. Jameson Hannah, OF
Only 133 games into his minor league career, Jameson Hannah is now in his 3rd organization. Originally drafted by Oakland before being traded to Cincinnati, Hannah was acquired by Colorado in November along with Robert Stephenson in exchange for Jeff Hoffman. With Hannah, the Rockies added a top-notch athlete with plus speed on the bases and in the outfield. That speed hasn’t fully translated into stolen base prowess yet, as Hannah has swiped only 14 bases in 133 games with a 63.6% success rate. His sprint times have been impressive, so if Hannah can improve as a base stealer, there’s easy 20+ steal upside here, maybe even in the 25-30 range at peak.
At the plate, Hannah is still very much a work in progress. He’s shown around average contact skills with solid enough bat speed, but his upper half is stiff with a non-direct hand path into the zone. Hannah also doesn’t incorporate his lower half much which limits his power potential which was already below average to start. Without a mechanical adjustment, I’m not seeing more than 5-8 homers annually from Hannah to pair with a .270 average or so. There’s the upside for more, but Hannah will need to improve on the bases and adjust his approach at the plate for that upside to see the light of day.
10. Eddy Diaz, MI
This was one of the harder prospects to rank in this system. Part of me thinks I ranked Diaz too low and his above-average contact skills and plus speed warrant a higher ranking here. But at the same time, Diaz’s well below-average power and inabilities to really impact the ball give me some pause. Basically, he’s a poor man’s Xavier Edward. If you looked at stats alone, you’d probably get slightly aroused when you saw his .317 average, .397 OBP, and a whopping 104 steals in 126 games. That’s ridiculous, but don’t forget, it was all in rookie ball where catcher’s defensive skills and throwing arms are still rounding into shape. Someone like Diaz can take advantage of that.
I’m not saying his speed can’t be an asset, because it clearly can, but don’t target him in dynasty leagues expecting 50 steals annually. More like 25-30 is likely where he settles in with a decent batting average to pair up with it. While Diaz’s swing is very linear and lacks loft, he’s shown that he can make consistent contact and utilize the entire field while keeping his strikeouts in check.
His hit tool and speed could allow him to carve out a role at the Major League level and provide some fantasy value, but remember, hitters with minimal power like this really need to excel in other departments. Diaz could be that type of player, but he’s a long way away and will be 21 soon without any experience above rookie ball. In other words, he’s definitely someone to keep an eye on and roster in leagues that roster 300+ prospects, but don’t go overboard in trying to get him on your squad.
11. Colton Welker, 3B/1B
Colton Welker is one that has slid down prospect rankings over the last few years. If you go back to 2018 or so, he was considered by some to be a top-100 prospect. Not any more. At this point, he’s merely a borderline top-250 prospect. One thing you got to love with his offensive profile is the hit tool. Welker’s swing is quick from the right side with a great feel for the barrel and good pitch recognition, but this is very much a hit over power profile. There isn’t much loft in the swing as Welker is more of a gap to gap, line-drive hitter. However, he did start driving the ball in the air more in 2019 resulting in an 8.9% jump in his flyball rate up to 41.8%.
If this sticks, Welker’s upside would be in Ryan McMahon’s territory as a .280/20 type at peak. However, that’s likely Welker’s best-case ceiling and his below-average speed limits his overall value for fantasy purposes. Welker is advanced enough to debut in 2021 with Colorado, but if the Rockies can’t even find enough playing time for better infielders like Garrett Hampson and Brendan Rodgers, that doesn’t bode well for Welker.
12. Adael Amador, SS
As a 2019 J2 signing, we’ve yet to see Adael Amador in game action, but the skills he possesses on both sides of the ball could have him shooting up prospect rankings in 2021 and beyond. Amador has shown a good feel for hitting from both sides of the plate with above-average contact skills and plus bat speed in his compact swing. The power is currently below-average but could tick up close to average as Amador fills out his skinny 6′ frame.
Beyond that, he’s shown above-average speed on the bases and in the field as well which has led to solid range. He’ll need to improve his footwork at short, but projects to stick at the position for now. If not, he’ll likely move over to second base. It’s always hard to rank these J2 guys that haven’t faced minor league pitching yet, but Amador has the skills to develop into a 55-hit, 40-power, 55-speed middle infielder in time.
13. Yanquiel Fernandez, OF
The Rockies signed Yanquiel Fernandez for $295K out of the Dominican Republic in 2019, mainly for his power projection. Fernandez is 6’2 corner outfielder with a strong frame and easy plus raw power projection. His left-handed swing generate plenty of loft as well, especially to his pull side, so 25+ homers annually could be in play. As he’s a belowe-average runner that is limited to a corner outfield spot, Fernandez will have to hit and it remains to be seen if the contact skills will be good enough to let his power play. This is merely a deeper dynasty league target right now until we can see how the bat plays in game action.
14. Grant Lavigne, 1B
This is a prospect I was fairly high on after the 2018 draft but not so much anymore. His profile just doesn’t scream Major League regular to me. When he was drafted, Lavigne displayed around an average hit tool, plus raw power, and a patient approach at the plate, but hasn’t really progressed since getting into the minors. The 14.4% walk rate certainly is impressive, but that passive approach along with a groundball rate above 50% has really capped Lavigne’s in-game power.
I’m actually a fan of his swing though. Lavigne uses a moderate load with a medium leg lick to time pitches and has a direct path to the ball with above-average bat speed. But the swing path is mostly linear and generates more line drives than anything else. A slight mechanical adjustment to his hand positioning to alter his swing path could unlock 20-homer pop here. And don’t be fooled by the stolen bases he’s been accumulating in the low minors, Lavigne is a below-average runner. If the power ticks up, he’s a top-10 dynasty prospect in this system.
15. Yonathan Daza, OF
If it feels like Yonathan Daza has been around forever, it’s because he has. Let me put it in perspective with a fun fact. The Rockies signed Daza way back in October of 2010. That is around six months before Mike Trout made his Major League debut. Crazy, right? Despite his extremely slow progression which included three years in Rookie ball, Daza could develop into a low-end regular if ever given the chance. Unfortunately, it might take a change of scenery for that to happen. While Daza is well below-average in the power department, he’s displayed above-average contact skills and speed in the minors with a clean and compact swing and has hit over .300 in every season since 2014.
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) May 22, 2018
This is definitely a hit over power approach and Daza is more of an all-field “slap hitter” but one with great zone awareness. With that said, he doesn’t walk much and takes a hit in OBP formats, but if given the chance to play, there’s legit .280/20 SB upside here. After making his MLB debut in 2019, Daza could get some at-bats with Colorado this season, but that outfield is extremely crowded which keeps him off the fantasy radar for now.
16. Niko Decolati, OF
We’re getting into the part of the list where the upside really starts dropping off. In the past, Nico Decolati is a name I ranked much higher in this system. In fact, he ranked inside my top-10 for fantasy purposes back in 2019. But there just hasn’t been enough progression at the plate to continue ranking him that highly. After excelling in his 2018 debut in Rookie ball, Decolati was very pedestrian in Single-A in 2019, posting a .265/.334/.399 slash line with a minuscule 3.9% walk rate. He still flashed around average raw power with above-average speed, but I’m starting to question if Decolati makes enough contact or has a good enough approach to develop into a starting-caliber Major League hitter.
Decolati’s speed and athleticism, coupled with his solid defensive skills, are helpful tools that could continue to push him up the ladder, but his overall approach at the plate needs refinement. He’s still one to keep an eye on due to his 10-15 homer, 20-steal potential, but I’m only targeting Decolati in deeper dynasty leagues for the time being.
17. Helcris Olivarez, LHP
As a southpaw with the potential for two-above average or better pitches when he’s on, this might feel a bit low. Olivarez, a 6’2 left-hander, sits in the mid-90’s with his fastball, touching around 97-98 at times, but the below-average command and movement profile on the pitch limits the effectiveness and keeps it out of plus territory. The same can be said for his curveball which flashes plus at times, but inconsistently. Olivarez will also mix in a changeup, but the pitch currently grades as below average but has the makings of an average third pitch if he can be more consistent with it.
Man, the words “consistent” and “consistency” come up a lot with Olivarez. If he can improve the concerns listed above, Olivarez could be a back-end starter that produces a 25+% strikeout rate. But at this point, I’m leaning more towards a bullpen arm. Still, keep an eye on him in deeper dynasty leagues.
18. Drew Romo, C
If you’re looking at real-life prospect lists, you’re going to see Drew Romo much higher, likely inside the top-10. Prep catchers with his type of defensive prowess don’t come along too often. There’s no doubt that Romo is going to stick behind the plate and might even sneak a gold glove or two in before his career is all over. But offensively, the profile is much less appealing.
As a switch-hitter, Romo projects as an average hitter that is slightly better from the left side, with close to average power as well. He’ll need to be a bit more aggressive and drive the ball in the air more consistently to tap into that power, but even then, I think .270/15 is his ceiling, even in Coors. As long as he isn’t a black-hole at the plate, Romo’s defensive skills should carry him up the organizational ladder, but the offensive upside isn’t too high overall.
19. Sam Weatherly, LHP
A 3rd round pick in 2020 out of Clemson, Sam Weatherly is a 6’4 southpaw with a solid arsenal to work off of. Although, I’m not 100% sure he winds up as a starter. Weather sits in the low-90’s with his fastball, touching 95-96 with solid run, and has an above-average to plus slider as well with good two-plane break that serves as his primary out pitch. However, the changeup is fringe average presently and Weatherly has had issues consistently commanding his pitches and pounding the strike zone. That’s putting it nicely too as Weatherly posted an unsightly 18.8% walk rate and 13.9 K-BB% at Clemson. He can strike batters out at a good clip (32.7%), but if the command and control don’t improve, Weatherly is likely destined for a middle-relief role in Colorado’s bullpen.
20. Ezequiel Tovar, SS
This was a projection/dart-throw inclusion to round out this top-20. The Rockies signed Ezequiel Tovar out of Venezuela in 2017 for $800K and shortstop has held his own at the plate thus far but hasn’t impressed. Defensively is where Tovar brings most of his value as an above-average to plus defender with a good arm. For fantasy purposes, there’s above-average speed here and Tovar has converted on 76.7% of his 43 attempts thus far, but the bat lags behind. His swing is compact from the right side with decent enough bat speed, but the contact skills are a tick below average and the power projection is minimal, even if he beefs up his 6’/160 frame.
At best we’re likely looking at a backup infielder at the Major League level, but there’s still time for the bat to improve. I’m just not sure how much he actually can improve offensively. Daniel Montano or Jack Blomgren could’ve very easily been #20 here over Tovar.
Daniel Montano, OF | Jack Blomgren, SS | Ben Bowden, LHP | Bladimir Restituyo, OF
Media Credit: Chris Clegg, Vinnie Cervino, Cory Ott
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