Prospect Report: Rockies 2023 Imminent Big Leaguers

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Below is an evaluation of the prospects in the Colorado Rockies farm system who readers should consider “imminent big leaguers,” players who might reasonably be expected to play in the majors at some point this year. This includes all prospects on the 40-man roster as well as those who have already established themselves in the upper levels of the minors but aren’t yet rostered. Any Top 100 prospects, regardless of their ETA, are also included on this list. Reports, tool grades, and scouting information for all of the prospects below can also be found on The Board.

This is not a top-to-bottom evaluation of the Rockies farm system. I like to include what’s happening in minor league and extended spring training in my reports as much as possible, since scouting high concentrations of players in Arizona and Florida allows me to incorporate real-time, first-person information into the org lists. However, this approach has led to some situations where outdated analysis (or no analysis at all) was all that existed for players who had already debuted in the majors. Skimming the imminent big leaguers off the top of a farm system will allow this time-sensitive information to make its way onto the site more quickly, better preparing readers for the upcoming season, helping fantasy players as they draft, and building site literature on relevant prospects to facilitate transaction analysis in the event that trades or injuries foist these players into major league roles. There will still be a Rockies prospect list that includes Pick to Click Jordy Vargas, Yanquiel Fernandez, and all of the other prospects in the system who appear to be at least another season away. As such, today’s list includes no ordinal rankings. Readers are instead encouraged to focus on the players’ Future Value (FV) grades.

Let’s revisit what FV means before I offer some specific thoughts on this org. Future Value (FV) is a subjective valuation metric derived from the traditional 20-80 scouting scale (where 50 is average and each integer of 10 away from 50 represents one standard deviation) that uses WAR production to set the scale. For instance, an average regular (meaning the 15th-best guy at a given position, give or take) generally produces about 2 WAR annually, so a 50 FV prospect projects as an everyday player who will generate about that much annual WAR during his pre-free agency big league seasons.

Why not just use projected WAR as the valuation metric, then? For one, it creates a false sense of precision. This isn’t a model. While a lot of data goes into my decision-making process, a lot of subjectivity does too, in the form of my own visual evaluations, as well as other information related to the players’ careers and baseball backgrounds. A player can have a strong evaluation (emphasis on the “e”) but might be a great distance from the big leagues, or could be injury prone, or a superlative athlete, and context like that might cause one to augment the player’s valuation (no “e”). Using something more subjective like Future Value allows me to dial up and down how I’m interpreting that context.

There are also many valuable part-time players who can only generate so much WAR due to their lack of playing time. As such, FV grades below 50 tend to describe a role more than they do a particular WAR output; you can glean the projected roles from the players’ reports. In short, anyone who is a 40+ FV player or above projects as an integral big league role player or better.

Now some Rockies thoughts. Sean Bouchard lost rookie eligibility last year having never appeared on a Rockies prospect list. I’ve seen him a handful of times this spring while working on this and other prospect content, and it’s clear he should have been on there last year. I’ve added him to the 2022 Graduates tab with thoughts on his long-term prospects as if I were writing him up for this exercise.

Most of Colorado’s best prospects (almost all of them hitters) are still in the mid-minors, so even though Ezequiel Tovar projects to stabilize the shortstop position in Denver for the next half decade plus, this is not the rookie class that will pull the club out of the NL West basement. The Rockies are still desperately climbing a seemingly endless staircase trying to get out of there and probably will be for a while. Not only was the Brendan Rodgers injury a literal body blow to the team’s 2023 outlook, but it might have a multi-year ripple effect since he was arguably their best trade chip as well.

The general inability of the Rockies to develop and sustain peak performance from their pitchers is once again evident in this projected rookie class and Top 100 group, as the best of the few arms among them were all acquired from other teams, though to be fair, Davis has gotten better under the Colorado umbrella and Criswell has barely been part of the club. The Rockies front office underwent seismic changes in 2021, including in player development. Even if they instantly knew and were willing to implement the methodology employed by teams that consistently pump out pitching, it would still take years to develop the technological infrastructure needed to operate that way.

Rockies Imminent Big Leaguers and Top 100 Prospects
Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
Ezequiel Tovar 21.6 MLB SS 2023 50
Adael Amador 19.9 A 2B 2025 50
Drew Romo 21.5 A+ C 2025 50
Zac Veen 21.2 AA RF 2024 50
Connor Seabold 27.1 MLB SP 2023 45
Nolan Jones 24.8 MLB RF 2023 45
Warming Bernabel 20.8 A+ 3B 2024 40+
Noah Davis 25.9 MLB SP 2023 40
Jeff Criswell 24.0 AAA MIRP 2023 40
Gavin Hollowell 25.3 MLB SIRP 2023 40
Blair Calvo 27.0 AA SIRP 2023 40
Brenton Doyle 24.8 AAA CF 2024 40
Julio Carreras 23.2 AA SS 2023 40
Michael Toglia 24.6 MLB 1B 2023 35+
Karl Kauffmann 25.6 AAA SP 2023 35+
Riley Pint 25.3 AAA SIRP 2023 35+
Ryan Rolison 25.7 AAA SP 2023 35+
PJ Poulin 26.6 AAA SIRP 2023 35+
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50 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (COL)
Age 21.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/60 40/45 30/40 45/45 50/60 50

A skilled but impatient hitter who can really pick it, Tovar is poised to be the Rockies’ everyday shortstop and probably will be for a while. He has incredible defensive range, especially to his right, and his footwork around the bag is balletic. At times he’s too bold and rushes throws that he should just holster, but Tovar is only the age of a college draft prospect, so details like this will likely tighten up as he matures. The area where it’s most imperative for Tovar to show improvement is his plate discipline. His fantastic bat-to-ball skill has enabled him to rake in the minors, but he has a tendency to offer at pitches that are way, way off the plate, pitches most hitters instantly know aren’t competitive. He chased at a 37% rate in 2022, which isn’t terrible in a big league context, but is pretty bad when viewed through the minor league lens, where fewer pitchers have chase-inducing stuff. While his ball/strike recognition isn’t good, Tovar is otherwise an advanced hitter. He tends to work contact to center and right field, especially against fastballs, and he has a clear two-strike approach where he ditches his leg kick and takes a more conservative swing. It will be interesting to see how Tovar’s speed helps inflate his extra-base output in Coors Field; he might end up turning a lot of doubles into triples there. If not for the risk created by Tovar’s plate discipline, he’d be in the 55 FV tier, as he’s otherwise about to produce like a complete up-the-middle player.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (COL)
Age 19.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/70 40/45 30/40 50/50 45/55 50

Amador is a well-rounded middle infield prospect with a smaller, almost maxed-out frame that compares to Jimmy Rollins or Domingo Leyba. He has special hand-eye coordination and bat-to-ball skill, as well as a tremendous idea of the strike zone. Amador is one of those short-levered switch hitters who is so short to the ball that he gets an extra beat to diagnose pitches before he has to commit to swinging, and he takes advantage of this. Over the last year or so, he’s thickened like a roux and become stronger, and he’s capable of doing more damage than our tepid projection expected. Increasingly, Amador’s choppers and grounders are peppered with feel for pull-side loft, when appropriate. On paper, Amador is still generating flat, groundball and line drive contact a lot of the time, but we think his feel for the barrel and for the zone together will enable him to hit for average power at maturity, maybe more as a left-handed hitter. As he’s gotten stronger, Amador’s defensive projections have shifted to second base. The degree of confidence in his hit tool has him ranked on the Top 100 ahead of some other middle infielders who are closer to the big leagues or who are more likely to stay shortstop.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from The Woodlands HS (TX) (COL)
Age 21.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 55/55 30/35 30/30 45/60 70

Romo is a plus-gloved catching prospect with uncommon feel for contact from both sides of the plate, though the contact he makes isn’t very hard. He had his second straight fair offensive season as a pro in 2022, as he produced a 95 wRC+ at High-A, mostly thanks to his ability to put balls in play. Romo’s offensive performance is impressive considering he only turned 21 near the end of the 2022 season, though in another sense it’s troubling because he’s such a physical guy and yet has such poor ball-striking power. It’s fair to consider him a high-floor, low-variance prospect because Romo’s defensive ability and rocket arm (he popped 1.87 and 1.95 on throws to second during spring training) make him very likely to be a plus defender at maturity, and even a one-note style of offense (Romo both lacks power and is relatively impatient) tends to profile at catcher.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Spruce Creek HS (COL)
Age 21.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 55/60 30/50 70/70 50/60 55

We are still in a holding pattern with Veen because the length of his swing continues to make it very difficult for him to turn on fastballs. He has performed well through the lower minors (.271/.368/.438), and his frame, speed, general athleticism, and long-term frame-based power projection are all very enticing from a scouting standpoint, but the limitations of his current swing still make Veen’s big league impact more of an abstract projection than an inevitability. Veen rotates with rare ferocity and his broad-shouldered, 6-foot-4 frame leaves room for immense strength as he matures. As explosive as most of his body is, Veen’s hands are not, and he tends to be long into the hitting zone. Fall League pitchers were working him in on the hands, then getting him to swing over the top of back-foot breaking balls once Veen would start to cheat on heaters in that spot. He can absolutely fly and will occasionally do some impressive stuff at the dish, especially when he bends out over the plate to whack breaking stuff away from him. Almost all of Veen’s pull-side contact into the outfield once he was promoted to Double-A came against secondary pitches. If he and the Rockies can find a way for him to be on time against fastballs, then there’s a shot for a star-level breakout here, but it’s tough to ask someone who, to this point, has been very successful, to make a huge change to their swing.

Veen is going to wreak havoc on the bases. He plays with an elite motor, moves from base to base with just a few gigantic strides, and commits to the next base with abandon in borderline situations. He added meaningful muscle and strength during the 2022-23 offseason and came to spring training with a noticeably stronger physique. His current swing is sexier than it is functional, so it’s tough to project Veen as the five-tool superstar that it felt like he could become when he was drafted. But the skills he has on board right now are still those of a good big leaguer, and Veen appears to be working hard to max out.

45 FV Prospects

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from Cal State Fullerton (PHI)
Age 27.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 55/55 45/45 55/55 55/60 90-93 / 94

Drafted by the Phillies in 2017 and traded to the Red Sox in 2020, Seabold made his big league debut with the Sox in 2021 and has yet to establish himself as a big league rotation piece, in part due to injury. His 2021 (elbow) and 2022 (forearm extensor strain) both featured time on the shelf. About a month before spring training began, the BoSox traded Seabold to Colorado for a player to be named later. He looked healthy at the start of camp, when he sat his usual 90-94 mph with uphill plane. Seabold throws a ton of strikes with his fastball and slider, which has become his go-to secondary. His slider is unusually hard for a guy who sits about 92, topping out around 87 mph. Seabold can also turn over a good low-80s changeup, which used to be his best pitch, and while it still induces its fair share of chases and whiffs, it is closer to an average pitch than plus. A cogent four-pitch mix and plus command make Seabold a high-probability no. 4/5 starter, though his fastball might be extremely vulnerable at Coors Field.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Holy Ghost Prep HS (PA) (CLE)
Age 24.8 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/70 45/55 45/45 30/40 60

One of a couple of young outfielders Cleveland traded away around the 40-man deadline, Jones is a former first round draft pick and Top 100 prospect who fell down the defensive spectrum toward the end of his Guardians tenure while also continuing to produce game power below his raw. Jones played shortstop in high school but, realistically at his size, he was at best going to be a third baseman in pro ball. His size has made that difficult, and Cleveland (partially because of their big league needs) gave up on it in 2022, when Jones only played right field and DH’d. Traded to the Rockies for second baseman Juan Brito, Jones is back to playing on the dirt some of the time. In the first weeks of 2023 spring training, he saw action at all four corner positions. The dominoes that fell as a result of the Brendan Rodgers injury make it more imperative that Jones finds a way to be passable at third base quickly. The rust from his lack of 2022 reps there showed upon reintroduction, and he actually looks most comfortable at first base. But it’s not as if Jones immediately took to the outfield in 2022, so if he’s going to be a 40 defender it may as well be at his most valuable possible position. More likely, he’ll end up playing all over the place, platooning with Elehuris Montero and Sean Bouchard.

Jones has long produced above-average walk rates, but there’s disagreement in the industry as to whether he’s passive or actually selective. His walk rates have come way down as he’s climbed the ladder, which is perhaps evidence of the former. While he has plus raw power, Jones’ looping swing (which is vulnerable to fastballs up and away from him) tends to generate low-lying contact that causes his in-game pop to play down, and he tends to only damage mistakes that find their way to the inner third of the plate. His gigantic frame still isn’t totally filled out, and he probably has room to add another full grade of raw power as he matures. Even with a 40-grade hit tool, if Jones ever finds a way to get to more of that power in games, he might just be an everyday 1B/DH. Here he’s projected as a four corner platoon option.

40+ FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (COL)
Age 20.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 45/55 35/50 40/40 30/50 55

Bernabel’s lively hitting hands drive a fairly exciting hitter profile even though he has some scary indicators related to his plate discipline. For example, he walked just twice in 109 plate appearances at High-A late in 2022. Bernabel’s swing is rhythmic, balanced, athletic, and has natural loft without compromising contact. He has great bat-to-ball feel in the zone (86% Z-contact%), and the lightning-fast way in which his hands fire allows him to let the baseball travel deep before deciding to swing. He often decides wrong. Bernabel is one of the more aggressive hitters in all of pro baseball, chasing at a 37% clip and swinging 54% of the time. It will start to become more evident whether his feel to hit is good enough to support such poor ball/strike recognition as Bernabel works his way to the upper levels of the minors. The Rockies added him to their 40-man roster after he had only played about a month above Low-A and unless they accelerate the pace of his promotion, it might be a while before he’s forced to adjust. Bernabel won’t turn 21 until June, so the fact that he’s been so aggressive and still managed to hit a career .295/.355/.470 coming up through A-ball is very impressive. He has the hit and power combination to be an everyday third baseman if he can chase fewer non-competitive breaking balls, but he’s a risky young hitter because of how often he tends to.

40 FV Prospects

Drafted: 11th Round, 2018 from UC Santa Barbara (CIN)
Age 25.9 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
45/45 45/50 55/55 50/55 40/45 45/50 92-94 / 95

An 11th round pick by the Reds who was later traded for Mychal Givens, Davis is a central casting backend starter with a deep repertoire of mostly average pitches. Velocity-wise, Davis will bump 95 mph but generally sits 92-94 with tailing action. He’ll show you a cutter, slider, curveball, and changeup, the last of which he threw less than 10% of the time in 2022, though it sometimes looked like his best pitch during the spring of 2023. Davis will use his change against hitters of either handedness and can parachute it back over the plate against righties for called strikes. His slower breaking ball has enough angle to play as a back foot bat-misser against lefties; if his changeup isn’t his best pitch, then it’s this breaking ball. Our 2022 pitch data does not have Davis throwing a cutter, so that pitch might be entirely new, but he was definitely throwing one to start 2023 spring training. It’s possible that pitch will be a bigger difference maker over time since it appears to be new. Davis is currently the youngest starter on the Rockies’ 40-man roster (barely — they have a bunch of 25-year-olds) and he’s likely to establish a foothold in their big league rotation in either 2023 or 2024.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2020 from Michigan (OAK)
Age 24.0 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 206 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 55/60 45/50 40/45 30/40 92-95 / 97

Criswell was a huge part of Michigan’s 2019 College World Series runner up team and was Oakland’s second-round pick after the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He walked a batter every other inning during his college career, which, combined with several pro injuries, pushes his projection toward the bullpen. Aside from a brief velo spike into the 94-97 mph range during 2020 instructs, Criswell has been sitting 92-95 as a pro. After he dealt with elbow inflammation a few times in 2021, he had a totally healthy 2022 and worked 118 innings across 24 games as he reached Triple-A Vegas. He was traded from Oakland to Colorado after the season for reliever and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith. Criswell again sat 93-95 in short outings during the spring of 2023. Imbalance in his lower half continues to detract from his command a bit and contributes to variability in the shape of his secondary stuff. His repertoire depth gives him a shot to start, specifically his changeup, which is better than our pre-draft assessment. It’s already a viable third pitch (his mid-80s slider is his preferred secondary) and projects as an above-average offering. A four-pitch complement will enable Criswell to work at the back of a rotation so long as his pitch efficiency improves a bit, but it’s more likely that he ends up in a bulk relief role.

Drafted: 6th Round, 2019 from St. John’s (COL)
Age 25.3 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 45/50 92-96 / 97

A sixth rounder from 2019, Hollowell first popped onto FanGraphs’ radar when he was pumping mid-90s gas during 2021 instructs. In 2022, the Rockies leapt him over High-A and sent him straight to Hartford, where he struck out 34% of opposing hitters across about 50 relief innings before he was given his first dose of the big leagues in September. Hollowell didn’t throw quite as hard in 2022 as he did during that breakout instructs, instead sitting more in the 92-94 mph range, but he was back in the 93-96 range at the start of 2023. His fastball should theoretically play up because of his delivery’s extension and the upshot angle it creates on the fastball. Even at average velocities in 2022, it played like a plus pitch. If he can sustain the 93-96 velo band, it will be a dynamic big league offering. Hollowell’s slider is also plus and is a great front-door weapon against righties who have often just seen a fastball running in on their hands. While he overwhelmingly uses a two-seam/four-seam combo and a slider to get outs, Hollowell also showed a little baby cutter and changeup during his big league cup of coffee. If either of those can progress enough to give Hollowell another useful tool versus lefties, he’s going to be a late-inning option. He’s already doing enough to project as a contending bullpen’s third banana.

Drafted: 23th Round, 2019 from Flagler College (COL)
Age 27.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
55/55 60/60 30/40 94-96 / 98

Calvo was a 23rd rounder out of Flagler College, a Division II school in St. Augustine, Florida. He took a circuitous route to get there, going from a Florida JUCO to rehabbing from TJ to transferring to Pitt and then to Flagler for his fifth season removed from high school. Calvo had a dominant foray into pro ball, striking out more than a batter per inning in a long relief role during his 2021 Low-A debut. As with Gavin Hollowell, the Rockies skipped Calvo over High-A and sent him to Hartford to start 2022, where he excelled in a single-inning role until the end of May. In his final May outing, Calvo’s heart began racing uncontrollably on the mound and he had to be taken to the hospital. He was dealing with a previously undiagnosed heart arrhythmia called ventricular tachycardia. Shelved for two months while he and his doctors decided how Calvo could safely proceed with a life that included baseball, he was back in August and picked up Fall League innings before the Rockies added him to the 40-man roster in the offseason.

Calvo sits 94-96 mph (and peaks above that) with a plus-plus flashing slider in the 83-86 mph range. His arm is very whippy and Calvo’s stride home opens up his hips in a way that’s atypical of most pitchers, possibly creating some deception. His command is comfortably below average, but typical of a single-inning reliever. It’s most detrimental when Calvo goes through stretches where his slider doesn’t finish and is left hanging in the zone, but mostly he looks like a standard fastball/slider middle reliever who has carved a remarkable path on his way there.

Drafted: 4th Round, 2019 from Shepherd (COL)
Age 24.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/30 60/60 30/40 60/60 55/60 55

Doyle was a toolsy draftee from Shepherd University, a tiny Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference program (a conference that has given us the likes of Joey Wendle, Matt Festa, and Ryan Vogelsong) in West Virginia that also has a QB prospect for this year’s NFL Draft (Tyson Bagent — look it up, nerds). Doyle has huge tools and one of the best physiques in professional baseball. He is a plus-running athletic freak capable of hitting huge pull-side homers and making incredible defensive plays in center field, it’s just that Doyle’s pitch recognition is still sushi raw as he approaches age 25 and he may not hit enough to play a meaningful big league role. He has punched out in 31% of his career full-season plate appearances, a ruby red flag. He also hit 26 homers and and stole 23 bases (in 26 attempts) last season, but his overall line (almost entirely at Double-A Hartford) was still a shade below the average (96 wRC+) in the Eastern League. Of course prospects from such small programs deserve ample time to adjust to pro quality pitching, but Doyle has now been in the Rockies system for nearly half a decade and hope that he might be able to do that is becoming less reasonable by the day. Doyle is still a prospect of extreme variance and volatility, but his center field defense should allow him to play some sort of big league role even if his hit tool bottoms out and he ends up being a right-handed version of Bradley Zimmer.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (COL)
Age 23.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 166 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 30/30 30/30 60/60 55/60 60

Carreras’ carrying tool is his defense. He has fantastic defensive footwork, his hands, actions, and transfer are all lightning quick, he has a flair for making acrobatic plays around the second base bag, and his arm strength is fine (if a little inaccurate at times) for shortstop. For a bit while Carreras was in the low minors, it appeared as though he might grow into meaningful power, but that hasn’t happened and he’s still a relatively skinny, light-hitting offensive player whose propensity to chase is also a bit of a problem. There probably won’t be sufficient offensive impact for Carreras to be a regularly or even oft-used complementary player, but his defense will very likely make him a bench infielder who provides a late-game defensive upgrade.

35+ FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from UCLA (COL)
Age 24.6 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 226 Bat / Thr S / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 60/60 45/50 30/30 60/60 55

Toglia’s strikeout rates have hovered around the 30% mark since he reached Double-A, a daming sign for most prospects let alone one who has to clear the lofty offensive bar at first base. For the second straight year, he is evaluated here as a great off-the-bench weapon, a switch-hitter with plus power and first base defense, just one who isn’t projected to make nearly enough contact to be a good team’s everyday first baseman. Toglia very often swings over top of any breaking ball executed within the zip code of the bottom of the strike zone, as his swing just doesn’t enable him to get the bat on plane with the baseball down there. Back-foot breaking balls especially give Toglia fits from both sides of the plate. When he does make contact, though, his power is evident. He has thunderous, plus pop and will put balls out to the opposite field as both a left- and right-handed hitter. The notion of this kind of power in Coors Field is certainly enticing, but be aware that there are basically no major league first basemen who strike out this much, let alone ones who struck out this much in the minors.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from Michigan (COL)
Age 25.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Splitter Command Sits/Tops
40/40 50/55 55/55 40/45 90-92 / 95

Kauffmann is now on the doorstep of the big leagues having spent 2022 split between Double- and Triple-A. He throws a one-seam sinker, a splitter, and a sweeping slider, all of which have enough action to keep him off barrels even though his heater only sits 90-92 mph. He’s able to work his sinker down-and-in to right-handed hitters and force them to top it into the ground, while Kauffmann’s slider gives him a weapon that moves to his arm side and punishes hitters for anticipating his sinker’s action. Kauffmann’s splitter bottoms out with plus dive just as it approaches the plate, but it’s tough for him to command and has fallen behind his slider in terms of usage. Every team needs plenty of pitching depth and so Kauffmann is poised to have a lengthy big league career as a fun-to-watch spot starter. He probably needs to sharpen his command by a full grade to profile as a stable and consistent back-of-the rotation type.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from St. Thomas Aquinas HS (KS) (COL)
Age 25.3 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 60/60 55/55 20/30 95-99 / 100

It will be a triumph of Pint’s perseverance when he finally pitches in the big leagues. He’s had many injuries (some severe), bouts of severe wildness, and even briefly retired before returning to the Rockies in the spring of 2022. He and Daniel Bard will likely occupy the same bullpen at some point in 2023. The former top draft pick still has issues with walks (6 BB/9 in 2022) and fastball playability, but sheer arm strength and the quality of Pint’s slider will enable him to wear a Rockies uniform. As of publication, an oblique issue (not his first one) has kept him from pitching in a spring game. Pint’s fastball sat 96 mph in 2022, and he appears to have both a cutter and slider (lots of Rockies pitchers seem to), but the two run together by virtue of Pint’s release inconsistency. The best are late-biting benders in the 86-89 mph range. He’s only throwing strikes at a 55% clip, which puts Pint in an up/down bucket almost by default. With just one season above A-ball and only 82 total innings since the end of 2017, perhaps there is hope for late-arriving polish if Pint keeps at it.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Ole Miss (COL)
Age 25.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/40 40/45 60/60 40/45 45/50 89-94 / 95

Rolison missed a chunk of 2021 due to appendicitis and all of 2022 due to a shoulder injury, which required mid-year labrum surgery. In January of 2023, GM Bill Schmidt told reporters Rolison would be ready to go for spring training, then in late February it was reported that he had thrown a bullpen session from the mound. Speculating here: it makes sense to reintroduce Rolison, who hasn’t pitched since a brief LIDOM stint two offseasons ago, in a minor league spring game before he sniffs a Cactus League mound, if he’s ready in time for that. Rockies minor league games begin on March 15, so that feels like the start of the window when he might be seen, either as I’m running back through the Salt River backfields to write the rest of the Rockies list, or by scout sources who cover the org. Rolison was drafted as high as he was out of Ole Miss because he was humming along at 93-94 mph and had a great lefty breaking ball. His stuff was suppressed in the year or so before he was shut down, more in the 90-92 range. This is purely a wait-and-see situation.

PJ Poulin, SIRP

Drafted: 11th Round, 2018 from UConn (COL)
Age 26.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 50/50 50/null 55/55 89-93 / 94

An athletic drop-and-drive lefty, Poulin has been a consistent statistical performer since entering pro ball, with a career ERA under 3.00. He has a sneaky, upshot fastball in the low-90s, a long, slow, sweeping slider in the upper-70s, and a changeup he could stand to use more because he has consistent arm-side feel for it. It’s a bit of a smoke and mirrors operation that should be fine in lower-leverage, up/down relief.

Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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1 year ago

Ooo I love this! Keep up the great work!