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First, it was Larry Walker in 1998: member of the Colorado Rockies organization representing his club during the MLB All-Star Game held at Coors Field.
Now, it’s prospect Michael Toglia starting at first base on the corner of 20th and Blake Street for Sunday’s Futures Game.
For good measure, the slugger playing at High-A Spokane homered in his first at bat in front of the hometown fans.
Ahead of the actual game itself, Toglia discussed his weekend in LoDo with absolute fervor.
“Electric. I cannot wait to see how many people are here,” Toglia said following batting practice for the National League side.
The switch-hitter was taken with Colorado’s first pick in the 2019 MLB Draft and has been able to work from both sides of the plate at a similar rate of success.
“I split it up pretty evenly during batting practice,” he said of his approach in preparing for gameday. “First couple rounds lefty, then I finish righty.”
Despite the glitz and glamour of the All-Star Game week activities, the 22-year-old is far from overwhelmed having spent some time in the Rockies home ballpark during 2020 when Coors Field was used as an alternate site for the development of minor leaguers.
Before the National League squad swatted five home runs in the game, Toglia hinted at the absence of the humidor for all baseballs used this week, an announcement made official by MLB for Monday’s Home Run Derby.
“It’s flying,” he said of the ball being used for the Futures Game. “The big league ball is a little bit different than the minor league ball.”
Toglia backed it up with a two-run home run on the first pitch he saw from Texas Rangers’ pitcher Cole Ragans. It was a simple approach that translated to success, from the pregame routine to the game.
“Be competitive and get some good swings off. Everyone’s gonna try to light up the radar gun, throwing their best stuff. So all I can do is get my best swing off.”
Fellow farm system brethren Ryan Vilade batted seventh and was the NL’s designated hitter, going 0-for-2. Willie MacIver struck out in both plate appearances, but registered a caught stealing upon entering the game, cutting down the 5th overall prospect in MLB Julio Rodríguez at third base.
Longmont, CO product and Rangers’ pitcher Cole Winn started the game for the American League and got the loss following a first-inning home run to Cincinnati Reds’ SS Jose Barrero.
With the MLB Draft taking place nearby at the Bellco Theater, Toglia even gave a brief scouting report on his former UCLA teammate Matt McLain, expected to be selected in the first round later that day and available for Colorado at the 8th pick.
“That’d be awesome for him to be with us,” Toglia said “He’s a baller. Strong as heck for his size. Toolsy. Does everything on the baseball diamond.
Had Chicago Cubs’ OF Brennan Davis not homered twice during the National League’s 8-3 victory, it could have Toglia who won the Larry Doby Award as Futures Game MVP, joining the likes of Alfonso Soriano, Jose Réyes, Joey Gallo and Kyle Schwarber.
But if everything else breaks right over the course of his career, Toglia might continue to follow in Walker’s footsteps on the field, too.