At 6’5” and 226 lbs, Michael Toglia was built to hit baseball a long, long way.
Toglia launched three home runs with the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes on August 27. That gave him 30 for 2022, third-most this season among Colorado Rockies minor leaguers.
After only 97 games at Double-A earlier in the year, Toglia set the Hartford Yard Goats single-season record with 23 home runs. (Brenton Doyle later tied this mark.)
As much as this appeared to indicate he was ready for the big leagues, the UCLA product could have made his MLB debut much earlier.
And not because of his bat.
“I think his time in Denver is going to be soon,” Todd Helton said of Toglia to Danielle Allentuck of The Gazette back in March.
Somehow, Helton’s no. 17 was bestowed upon Toglia during minor league camp at Salt River Fields.
With the Toddfather’s number on his back and the man himself looking over his shoulder, Toglia worked alongside the Rockies’ legend, who was brought in as a guest instructor to work with prospects during the spring.
The whispers about Toglia’s defense at first base had started shortly after being taken 23rd overall in the 2019 MLB Draft.
Once Helton offered up his stamp of approval, the praise sounded a lot louder.
“Defensively, in a short period of time and also what we’ve heard from player development, is that he is a well above average defensive first baseman and that’s great,” Black said of Toglia.
The 24-year-old has started nine of 26 games with Colorado this past month at first base. Though the sample size is rather small, the early indications suggest Toglia is indeed the real deal defensively.
His two Outs Above Average, according Baseball Savant, are tied with All-Star C.J. Cron for most at first base on the club.
He’s also been credited with two Defensive Runs Saved, well shy of Connor Joe’s six DRS in 162 innings at the position.
Were Toglia to become a regular and play 1,000 innings at first base, he would have 24 DRS under this current rate. (Arizona’s Christian Walker currently leads all of MLB with 18 DRS this season.)
“I think he’s very instinctual,” Black has shared. “He has a great ability to read the ball, read hops, read the speed of the ball and from a very short look, I think in a game situation, instincts are really good.”
Ezequiel Tovar, another Rockies prospect whose glove was ready for the Majors early on, has made quite a tandem, according to Colorado’s manager.
“I think those guys are above average Major League defenders from what our player development staff has said – who’ve seen him every single day – what we saw in Spring Training – which is a good barometer – and what we’ve seen so far….”
Cron has another year remaining on his two-year extension signed in 2021. Elehuris Montero, who can play both corners, is another option for the Rockies at first base.
If Colorado wants to get back to seeing their players contend for some end-of-year hardware, something they haven’t done since Nolan Arenado won the Gold Glove Award at third base in 2020, Toglia is their best shot right now.
Besides, what have they got to lose?
Before Thursday’s loss to the San Francisco Giants, Colorado made a few injury list announcements.
- Brendan Rodgers was reinstated from the injured list (left hamstring strain) and immediately inserted into the lineup playing second base and batting third.
- Connor Joe went on the 10-day IL (retroactive to Sept 26) with a right serratus strain.
Ahead of Tuesday’s game, Carlos Estévez was placed on the COVID-IL. Though Black said that Estévez does not have the coronavirus, he’s been placed on the 15-day IL since the reliever is still under the weather.
- Ty Blach was promoted from Triple-A when Estévez went on the COVID-IL.
On Wednesday, Charlie Blackmon’s season was ended by a torn left meniscus. He went on the injured list while José Iglesias came off it.