Despite the lack of faith in Colorado’s farm system over the past few year, the crop of players in the 11-through 20 range have an opportunity to make tremendous leaps in the first minor league season since 2019.
Only five players in this group have ever suited up for a Rockies’ affiliate as two come over in trades, two signed and sat out shortly before the pandemic and one was taken in the abbreviated 2020 MLB Draft.
Purple Prospects Week
Friday, March 26: #3-6
Saturday, March 27: #1-2
#20 – RP Tommy Doyle (40-Man Roster)
Age: 24.9; Throws: Right
Acquired: 2017 MLB Draft, 2nd Rd from University of Virginia
As closer since his days in college with the Cavaliers, Doyle saved a combined 37 games across his first two full-seasons of pro ball with Asheville and Lancaster before making his debut in 2020. He had just 36 innings at High-A the year prior where he pitched to a 3.25 ERA in the hitter’s haven of the California League.
While Doyle’s promotion was more aggressive than typically seen by the Rockies, he needed to be added to the 40-man roster by the November 20th deadline, so the move was sensible despite the outcome (6 ER in 2.1 IP).
Doyle features a solid two-pitch mix with command that combines a 95mph fastball and excellent slider. His velocity has been up-and-down with each season; this year in the Cactus League been down thus far. If he can develop his third pitch (changeup), Doyle could fulfill the comparisons to Scott Oberg.
#19 – OF Jameson Hannah
Age: 23.6; Throws: Left; Bat: Left
Acquired: Trade with Cincinnati Reds with RHP Robert Stephenson for RHP Jeff Hoffman and RHP Case Williams, Nov 2020
The youngster out of Texas has been traded twice already possibly due to a solid skill set that lacks greatness in any one area. Defensively, he can play all outfield positions, but lacks adequate arm strength to excel anywhere other than left field.
At the plate, he has his share of upside, minus power. A gap-hitter that could be plenty successful at Coors Field, he’ll turn doubles into triples based on his speed. Translating this quickness into stolen bases is a facet that needs improving and his acquisition by the Rockies will give him that opportunity as aggressiveness on the base paths is encouraged by the organization.
#18 – SS Ezequiel Tovar
Age: 19.6; Throws: Right; Bats: Right
Acquired: 2017 International Signing
Tovar’s been moved up the ladder quickly, playing in the Northwest League as one of the youngest players. Signed on his 16th birthday out of Venezuela, Tovar is at a small disadvantage since he’ll need to be added to the 40-man roster this November or be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft; others in the same predicament range from the 21-year-old Eddy Diaz to 24-year-old Ryan Feltner.
Still a teenager, he’ll need add some weight to continue increasing his strength. No longer batting from the left-side may also progress the abilities at the plate of this former switch-hitter. He’s still touted as a surefire big leaguer due to spectacular defensive skills. The 2021 season will be a critical for learning whether that will happen sooner or later.
#17 – RP Ben Bowden (40-Man Roster)
Age: 26.4; Throws: Left
Acquired: 2016 MLB Draft, 2nd Rd from Vanderbilt University
Bowden won a National Championship with Vandy as a freshman alongside Jordan Sheffield and Dodgers’ ace Walker Buehler before being Colorado’s third selection in an otherwise disappointing 2016 draft class. (Riley Pint, 4th overall selection, has yet to pitch higher than Low-A and Robert Tyler, selected seven picks prior to Bowden, retired in January 2020.)
He’s been banged up at inopportune times, first missing the start of his professional career in 2017 season due to a back injury and then last year when he had the chance to be the Rockies lefty out of the pen. Still, he managed to reach Triple-A in just two years of on-field experience.
Bowden features a fastball-changeup combo that works best when the former sits in the mid-90’s. Development of a slider could make him more than just a LOOGY-type of reliever as his stuff can retire a fair share of right-handed hitters.
#16 – SS/2B Eddy Diaz
Age: 21.1; Throws: Right; Bats: Right
Acquired: 2017 International Signing
Diaz is the first Cuban amateur to ever sign with the organization. His aggressive approach in all facets of the sports make him a beloved gamer.
Speed is his best asset, as witnessed by 104 stolen bases (82% success rate) in his three seasons as a professional. At the plate, there’s a lot of contact, but no real power to project; it’ll be more gap-to-gap than over-the-fence going forward as Diaz still awaits his first long ball. Second base may be his best position, but he may end up as a utility player in the long run.
#15 – 1B Grant Lavigne
Age: 21.6; Throws: Right; Bats: Left
Acquired: 2018 MLB Draft, Competitive Balance Round A
A big frame with an intriguing combo of patience and power, Lavigne is the highest drafted prep player from the state of New Hampshire. With less opportunities at reps due to the colder climes of New England, it will be interesting to see how much more growth the Rockies can get from him.
Lavigne can hit the ball to all fields and knows the strike zone well. He’s still adjusting to being pitched high-and-away and hopes to build on a good showing at instructs last fall.
Unlike fellow prospect Michael Toglia, there isn’t much positional movement for Lavigne as he’s a true first baseman with an average-to-below-average arm. He has a great work ethic, so there’s still a chance he could swat 92 home runs in the majors to become the most prolific slugger to hail from the Granite State.
#14 – SP Karl Kauffman
Age: 23.6; Throws: Right
Acquired: 2019 MLB Draft, Competitive Balance Round B from University of Michigan
Kauffman has been a member of the Rockies for nearly two years and will be suiting up for the first time in 2021. He pitched the Wolverines deep into June before being drafted, winning two games in the 2019 College World Series before losing in the final. As such, he was left out of action for the remainder of the season and had his 2020 pro debut erased because of the pandemic.
A reputation as a workhorse and competitor bode well for Kauffman’s movement through the minors, especially after a shoulder injury during the instructional league further stunted his progress.
Reports on his fastball suggest a low-to-mid-90’s offering with some sink paired with an above average changeup and average slider. His ability to induce a ground ball may help him arrive in Colorado as a reliever as early as next season in order to build innings on his resume.
#13 – SP Sam Weatherly
Age: 21.8; Throws: Left
Acquired: 2020 MLB Draft, 3rd Rd from Clemson
After two years as a relief pitcher with command issues at Clemson, Weatherly transitioned to a starting role and flashed some elite skills, enough to suggest he can stick as an above-average rotation piece.
With high-risk can come high-reward in with this young man and scouts really liked Weatherly during the instructional league last year. The southpaw can ratchet it up 98mph with an above average slider.
His future as a starting pitcher will be entirely up to his ability to throw strike consistently. If not, there’s still a path for him to dominate in the bullpen.
#12 – SS Adael Amador
Age: 17.9; Throws: Right; Bats: Switch
Acquired: 2019 International Signing
Amador was signed for $1.5 million out of the Dominican Republic in July 2019 and is currently one of only three switch-hitters in the farm system considered to be top prospects.
One frequent comment heard about Amador: “He doesn’t play like a guy his age.” For such a young player, he’s shown advanced feel from both sides of the plate even though he’s seems better from the right so far.
Not even 18-years-old, he’s already grown physically – both vertically and in terms of strength. It will be interesting to see if he starts the season in Low-A Fresno, especially after suffering a broken hamate bone during instructs last fall.
#11 – 3B/1B Elehuris Montero (40-Man Roster)
Age: 22.6; Throws: Right; Bats: Right
Acquired: Trade with St. Louis Cardinals for Nolan Arenado, Feb 2021
The Midwest League MVP in 2018 during his age-19 season, Montero became a top 100 prospect for many in the game. He battled wrist injuries in 2019 and looked poorly in 59 games at Double-A before joining the Cardinals at their alternate site in 2020.
Offensively, he has great bat speed which keeps his strikeout numbers lower than expected. He’s a big league hitter with raw power that needs to be more patient in the batter’s box. Whether he becomes an above average hitter could largely be decided by his success in 2021.
Montero has an arm equipped for third base, but has a bigger body that limits his range. With players like Colton Welker and Aaron Schunk at third base, not to mention Ryan McMahon in the majors, and Toglia and Lavigne at first base, Montero may get squeezed for playing time if his development continues to stall.