The last few years have not been kind to Rockies fans. They have not had a winning season since getting swept in the NLDS by the Brewers in 2018. They have had to endure trading away the face of their franchise just a couple of years after signing him to a long-term extension. To make that trade even worse, none of the prospects acquired profile to be impact players. With trying times come high draft picks and the Rockies have filled their system with several high-upside bats. Although not all of them might pan out, the Rockies have a clear strategy to draft based on ceiling rather than floor. In addition, they appear to have hit on several international signings that are rising fast through their system. Ezequiel Tovar leads the list, but keep reading for the rest of the Rockies’ top-15 prospects.
Colorado Rockies Top Fantasy Baseball Prospects
1. Ezequiel Tovar, SS
2022 Stats (AA/AAA): 285 AB/.319/.387/.540/14 HR/17 SB/42 R/49 RBI
MLB Stats: 33 AB/.212/.257/.333/1 HR/0 SB/2 R/2 RBI
The Rockies signed Ezequiel Tovar back in 2017 and have seen him rise through the organizational ranks, making his Major League debut in 2022. Originally viewed as a defense-first player, Tovar has demonstrated an excellent feel for contact at the plate and has developed power as he has continued to grow. Tovar turned 21 last season and has hit 15 home runs in each of the past two seasons. He hits the ball on the ground too frequently to be a 20+ home run threat, but his initial game power grade of 35 is disrespectful. He is an aggressive swinger whose above-average contact rates prevent him from striking out too often.
High contact rates and a willingness to run create a large amount of fantasy value. Although his sprint speed ranks closer to league average than elite, quick instincts and an understanding of the game turn Tovar into a 15+ steal threat. Tovar projects as a solid fantasy asset providing great average, speed, and has the upside for more home runs if he can elevate the ball more.
2. Adael Amador, SS
2022 Stats (A): 449 AB/.292/.415/.445/15 HR/26 SB/100 R/57 RBI
In 2019, the Rockies signed Adael Amador out of the Dominican Republic at the age of 16. He had to wait until 2021 to make his debut but did not disappoint in the complex league. He built on his early success with an excellent season at Low-A in 2022. Amador was one of only seven minor league hitters under the age of 22 to walk more times than he struck out. Plate discipline and a mature approach help set Amador apart from other prospects and provide a safe floor from a fantasy perspective. He rarely chases or whiffs, allowing him to get on base at an above-average rate, and once he is on he is a constant threat to steal.
Amador has hit above .290 in consecutive seasons speaking to his strong hit tool. Although his swing is designed for contact, he possesses sneaky pop that could turn him into a 20/20 threat. Worth noting is the fact that 14 of his 15 home runs came from the left side of the plate. Power development from the right side could elevate his ceiling to new levels. Amador’s power development and ceiling are codependent, but even without it he still boasts one of the highest floors in the organization.
3. Zac Veen, OF
2022 Stats (A+/AA): 466 AB/.245/.340/.384/12 HR/55 SB/84 R/67 RBI
Zac Veen experienced a breakout during his senior year of high school that propelled him into the first round of the 2020 draft. After being selected ninth overall by the Colorado Rockies, Veen went on to hit .301 with 15 home runs and 36 stolen bases during his professional debut in 2021. The ceiling is clear, as Veen possesses both power and speed to be an elite fantasy asset. Veen is big and tall, standing at 6’4” and taps into his power by pulling the baseball. Power hitters in Coors field are always enticing, but there is more to consider before blindly falling in love.
Concerns over Veen’s hit tool result in questions over whether Veen will ever be able to utilize his rare blend of power and speed. Veen has seen his average drop with every promotion and will need to adjust to professional pitching. He struggles with breaking balls and fastballs up can get blown right by him. The raw skills would be high enough to put Veen at the top of any prospect list, but there is still a lot left to prove. The ceiling is 30/30, but his profile carries significant risk.
4. Warming Bernabel, 3B
2022 Stats (A/A+): 367 AB/.313/.370/.499/14 HR/23 SB/70 R/71 RBI
After signing back in 2018 with the Rockies for $900,000, expectations were not very high for Warming Bernabel. This changed when he hit .432 during complex play in 2021. Bernabel pairs an aggressive, swing-oriented approach at the plate with an excellent ability to make contact, never posting a contact rate below 80% in professional play. After dominating Low-A with a .317 average, ten home runs, and 21 steals, the Rockies made Bernabel one of the younger players in High-A at just 20 years old. He responded by batting over .300 through 26 games.
Despite his aggressive approach, the swing is smooth as opposed to choppy helping play into his power. As he continues to grow and develop, his power should increase. With increased power will likely come a decrease in his speed, which is already a tick below the league average. He profiles as more of a ten-steal player rather than 20+. The key to Bernabel’s development will be maturing in his approach at the plate. Improving his patience against tougher competition is important. He has a chance to hit .300 with 20 home runs and ten steals if it all works out.
5. Benny Montgomery, OF
2022 Stats (CPX/A): 255 AB/.310/.385/.494/6 HR/9 SB/51 R/44 RBI
Following a similar strategy to the 2020 draft, the Rockies selected a big and athletic high school outfielder in the first round of the 2021 draft. Benny Montgomery’s raw skills are tantalizing and if this list was just based on that he would rank number one. He has plus-plus speed and great raw power but is still working to turn these talents into game skills. He hit just six home runs with nine stolen bases in 2022.
There are also concerns over Montgomery’s swing and how that will impact his hit tool. During the 2022 season, Montgomery posted a strikeout rate over 26% while his swinging strike rate was pushing 20%. However, as detailed by the excellent Chris Clegg, Montgomery made a change in his swing during the season to help keep himself more compact and improve his contact skills. If he continues to show improved contact skills, he has enough raw power to make him a useful fantasy asset.
Benny Montgomery made a swing change to limit the hitch in his swing. Look at the difference from Apr to Sept ⬇️
Post-July 1, he slashed .323/.408/.516 with 4 home runs. Has high exit velos and is an easy + runner. If the contact improvements stick, watch for a breakout in 2023. pic.twitter.com/jlwtPBRTUq
— Chris Clegg (@RotoClegg) December 6, 2022
6. Yanquiel Fernandez, OF
2022 Stats (A): 475 AB/.284/.340/.507/21 HR/5 SB/76 R/109 RBI
Tall, athletic, with a left-handed stroke geared for power, the Rockies signing from 2019 certainly passes the eye test. Yanquiel Fernandez has wasted no time demonstrating his raw power in the US, hitting 6 home runs in 54 games in the DSL and then another 21 at Low-A in 2022. Fernandez has a knack for making hard contact thanks to his above-average bat speed. There is 30+ home run potential here and although the swing gets long at times, there is no concern over his ability to make contact. There is not much swing and miss in his game and he has posted high averages in each of his first two seasons.
Fernandez is going to hit; the only real-life question is where he plays the field. With below-average speed (getting worse as he continues to grow and develop), he likely does not have a true defensive home, which is less of a concern for those of us analyzing him as a fantasy prospect. Fernandez will not be a speed threat but still profiles as an above-average four-category player offensively.
7. Nolan Jones, 3B/OF
2022 Stats (AAA): 214 AB/.276/.368/.463/9 HR/4 SB/44 R/43 RBI
MLB Stats: 86 AB/.244/.309/.372/2 HR/0 SB/10 R/13 RBI
Nolan Jones was acquired from the Cleveland Guardians in the same trade mentioned in yesterday’s article profiling Juan Brito. Jones was a second-round pick back in 2016 and made his Major League debut during the 2022 season. Power has always been Jones’ calling card, as he posts excellent exit velocities and barrel rates from the left side of the plate. His swing pattern is geared more toward gap power rather than home runs, as he fails to get consistent launch on the ball. The flip side to his power has been an inability to make consistent contact and avoid high strikeout rates. With a sometimes overly patient approach, Jones runs deep counts and has not posted a strikeout rate below 24.9% since 2017. Along with the strikeouts comes a double-digit walk rate which helps his fantasy value in OBP leagues.
Jones has the power to entice fantasy managers, but it is difficult to project him ever hitting for much average and 30 home runs seems unlikely. Jones has more upside in points and OBP leagues than typical 5×5 scoring. There is also considerable platoon risk in his profile. 2023 could be his best and only chance to prove he is an everyday player.
8. Drew Romo, C
2022 Stats (A+): 374 AB/.254/.321/.372/5 HR/18 SB/52 R/58 RBI
Drew Romo is a switch-hitting catcher taken out of high school in the second round of the 2020 draft. Praised for his defensive abilities, there have always been questions about Romo’s offensive production. Aggressive at the plate, Romo was excellent in 2021, batting .314 with six home runs and 23 stolen bases. Although 2022 was not quite as impressive, Romo stole 18 bases and kept his strikeout rate below 20%. The most encouraging part of the 2022 season is the improvements Romo showed against left-handed pitching. Previously known as preferring to bat from the left side, Romo batted .294/.384/.471 against lefties.
Assuming Romo can get back on track against righties, he has the raw power and talent to be a useful fantasy asset. He has shown flashes of at least an average hit tool and has double-digit steal potential which is always a bonus from the catcher position. Romo’s ranking here is based on projection, but there is still plenty of work to be done to get him there.
9. Victor Juarez, SP
2022 Stats (A): 103 IP/4.98 ERA/1.31 WHIP/100 K
Yet another international signing from 2019, Victor Juarez is unknown to many, but that doesn’t mean it should stay that way. During his 2021 professional debut in the DSL, Juarez was unarguably the best pitcher there, posting a 0.68 ERA across 26.2 IP. Despite sitting at only 92 mph, Juarez consistently blows his fastball by batters. At 19 years old, it is possible he continues to add velocity. The 12-6 curveball is what makes Juarez special. There is another article on PitcherList praising this pitch and it truly does look unhittable. This profiles as a plus-plus out pitch and one that is going to generate a lot of swings and misses. Juarez also adds a changeup and sinker to his mix with the changeup sitting in the mid to low 80s.
Victor Juarez has excellent command already, only walking more than three batters twice in his professional career. Command like this is rare from a pitcher so young. There is relief risk, and a lack of velocity limits his ceiling as a starter, but with his curveball and command, Juarez could develop into a mid-rotation pitching prospect for Colorado.
10. Sterlin Thompson, 3B/OF
2022 Stats (CPX/A): 101 AB/.307/.351/.436/2 HR/3 SB/18 R/10 RBI
With their second pick at 31st overall, the Rockies selected Sterlin Thompson out of the University of Florida. Following a similar mold to other recent draft picks, the Rockies prioritized size and projectability when they selected Thompson. He plays both third base and outfield; however,he is all but destined to be a full-time outfielder in the Major Leagues.
Thompson swings from the left side of the plate and standing at 6’4” he has plenty of raw pop although his swing is more contact-oriented. At the plate, Thompson prioritizes making contact over driving the ball leading to more ground balls and fewer home runs. Thompson struggled against off-speed and breaking pitches in college. This is only going to become more of an issue in professional baseball evidenced by his 25.2% strikeout rate through his first 26 games with the Rockies organization. A corner outfielder that does not hit home runs or provide much speed on the base paths has limited fantasy value. Nonetheless, there is an upside to Thompson if the Rockies can get him to elevate the ball more and tap into his raw power.
11. Bryant Betancourt, C
2022 Stats (DSL): 138 AB/.355/.462/.674/11 HR/0 SB/34 R/36 RBI
The Rockies signed Bryant Betancourt out of Venezuela in January of 2021. Betancourt is only 19 years old, but we can already tell the bat is going to play. Scouts have always been high on his bat and he has done nothing in the DSL to change their opinions. He crushed 11 home runs in 175 plate appearances which would be a 37.7 HR/600 pace. Even more impressive was that he walked more than he struck out. Maturity and patience at the plate are rare for hitters this young, but Betancourt certainly possesses these traits. He is already demonstrating a solid ability to elevate the ball, leading to long-term confidence in his hit tool.
There are concerns over whether Betancourt can stick behind the plate which suppresses some of his fantasy value. A catcher that can rake is a lot harder to find than a first baseman that can hit. As he starts to progress through higher levels of professional baseball, he is a name to keep an eye on.
12. Jordan Beck, OF
2022 Stats (CPX/A): 88 AB/.295/.431/.477/3 HR/0 SB/20 R/19 RBI
The Rockies taking a big, physical, toolsy outfielder with top-40 picks seems to be a given. This is exactly who Jordan Beck is standing at 6’3” and 225 pounds out of Tennessee, Beck was taken 38th overall in the 2022 draft. Beck’s raw power might be the best of the bunch. He drives the ball to all fields and instead of focusing on pulling the baseball, Beck is content to take pitches the opposite way for doubles. This approach might suppress the home run totals but plays to the advantages of Coors Field. Concerns over Beck’s ability to make contact lowered his draft stock, but during his professional debut, he posted an 8.1 SwStr% through 26 games.
He has solid game speed but does not steal many bases. He stole just 14 bases in his collegiate career and did not attempt any last year with Colorado. Beck is not the flashiest or highest-upside player on this list, but he could hit .280 with 20 home runs if the contact improvements stick.
13. Gabriel Hughes, SP
2022 Stats (A): 3 IP/0.00 ERA/0.67 WHIP/1 K
Gabriel Hughes was the Rockies’ first-round pick out of Gonzaga in 2022. Like many of the Rockies’ other recent draft picks, they prioritized size with Hughes who stands at 6’4”. During his last season at Gonzaga, he posted a 3.21 ERA while setting a career-high in innings and strikeouts. The fastball is his best pitch sitting in the upper 90s topping out at 98 mph. His go-to out pitch against righties is a sweeping slider sitting around 90 mph. The changeup even grades out as a 50-grade pitch which he primarily uses against lefties.
His delivery out of the wind-up features a high leg kick that is both deceptive and difficult to repeat. For a pitcher this big, the leg kick can often have an impact on their ability to consistently locate pitches. This could be part of the reason Hughes only posted a 9.8K/9 during his final year at Gonzaga. With a high-velocity fastball and sweeping slider, Hughes might be destined for a bullpen role. He could work out of the stretch exclusively and help work in high-leverage situations. If the command improves, Hughes has two plus pitches that could turn him into a mid-rotation starter.
14. Hunter Goodman, C/1B
2022 Stats (A/A+/AA): 523 AB/.294/.354/.572/36 HR/6 SB/97 R/106 RBI
Hunter Goodman was a fourth-round pick out of Memphis during the 2021 draft. During his final season at Memphis, Goodman hit an absurd 21 home runs in 242 plate appearances (A 52/600 pace). Goodman has split time between first base and catcher since joining the organization. The potential he ends up at first base full-time keeps him this low in this prospect ranking.
Power is Goodman’s best tool. He hit 36 home runs between three different levels in 2022. The swing is designed for launch as he constantly elevates and pulls the baseball. The power is great enough that he could retain his fantasy value even with a move to first base. The reason Goodman ranks so low is concern over his hit tool. Goodman’s strikeout rate in 2022 was over 26% while his swinging strike rate was over 17%. Goodman will need to make strides in his approach at the plate as he starts touching the upper levels of the Minor Leagues. .230 and 20+ are solid for a catcher, but not a first baseman where I fear he might end up.
15. Juan Guerrero, OF
2022 Stats (A): 453 AB/.274/.335/.437/14 HR/18 SB/89 R/89 RBI
In 2018, Juan Guerrero signed with the Rockies at 17 years old out of the Dominican Republic. He has a smaller build to him standing at 6’1” and 160 pounds. The Rockies have been patient with his growth as even now at 21 he has not played above Low-A. This comes as no knock to Guerrero himself though as he has done nothing but hit batting well over .300 in 2019 and 2021.
Guerrero’s hit tool is well documented. He makes consistent contact, rarely chases, and has enough speed to run a high BABIP. In 2022, major strides were taken in his development as he hit a career-high 14 home runs. With pull rates over 50% during every year of his professional career, Guerrero needs to add strength if he is ever going to be a 20-home run threat. Without the power, he is still a player that is likely to hit for high average and can steal double-digit bases. Watch for Guerrero to keep building on the strides he made during 2022. If he is able to do this, he could turn himself into a real fantasy asset.
Photo by Chris Chow – Unsplash | Adapted by Kurt Wasemiller @kurt_player02 on Instagram / @KUwasemiller on Twitter