Colorado Rockies 2020 Top 50 Prospects

Vince Fernandez, Hartford Yard Goats - photo credit Bill Mercey, hartford.baseball on Instagram and BillMerceyPhotos.com

The Colorado Rockies reportedly have more homegrown players on their 40-man roster than any other team, so they must be doing something right in their minor league system. But the way they slow-walk prospects is frustrating and general manager Jeff Bridich recently signed Chris Owings, a utility infielder whose playing time will come at the expense of prospects who appear to be ready. They have half a dozen prospects or recently graduated prospects who could contribute this year, perhaps as starters, but don’t hold your breath. Take a flyer but don’t count on these guys in fantasy baseball.

Recent graduates from this list include 2019 #2 prospect Garrett Hampson, who didn’t quite live up to the hype last year and may end up as a super-utility player, #6 prospect Peter Lambert, who will compete for a job in the starting rotation this spring, #20 Yency Almonte, who will be back in the bullpen this year, and #22 Willie Abreu, off the list after a brutal season in Asheville.

Two relief pitchers dropped from the list: Justin Lawrence (previous year #13i; performance) and Reid Humphreys (previous year #14; injury).

These lists are fluid. Players come, players go. The number in parentheses after each player’s name and position is their rank in our preseason Top 50 one year ago.

Rockies Minor League Affiliates:
Triple-A:
Albuquerque (Pacific Coast League)
Double-A: Hartford (Eastern League)
High-A: Lancaster (California League)
Low-A: Asheville (South Atlantic League)
Short Season-A: Boise (Northwest League)
Rookie: Grand Junction (Pioneer League)



Prospects1500 Tiers:
Tier 1:
 Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have high likelihood of making the majors but providing minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players who are worth keeping an eye on, but likely to never make a team’s 40-man roster


Tier 1
1.
Brendan Rodgers, 2B/SS (1)
Age: 23 (DOB: 8/9/1996)
Highest 2019 level: MLB

This is a critical year for Rodgers, the consensus top prospect for the Rockies and one of the best prospects in the minor leagues. He had an inconsistent start to his big-league career and landed on the disabled list after shoulder surgery in 2019. Rodgers had 0 homers, 7 RBI and a .224 batting average in 76 at-bats with the Rockies after posting 9 home runs, 21 RBI and a .350 average in 143 at-bats at AAA Albuquerque. The 2015 first-round draft pick is still just 23 years old, but fans are spoiled in this age of Soto and Acuna and the like. Rodgers can put most of the concerns to rest by playing at Coors Field in April and September and every month in between.


Tier 2

2. Michael Toglia, 1B (UR)
Age: 21 (DOB: 8/16/1998)
Highest 2019 level: Short Season-A Boise

Toglia provided a big boost to the Rockies’ minor league system after being chosen in the first round of the 2019 First Year Player Draft, the 23rd pick overall. He had 9 homers, 26 RBI and a .248 average in 145 at-bats at Boise in his first pro season. His carrying tool is his power, and it may be the best among all Rockies prospects. Toglia, at 6 feet, 5 inches tall, weighing 226 pounds, was a Pac-12 all-star after hitting .336 with 11 home runs and 58 RBIs for UCLA last spring. That followed a most valuable player performance in the Cape Cod League in 2018 when he had eight homers and 24 runs batted in. He should show off his power this summer in A-ball in Asheville and Lancaster.

3. Ryan Rolison, LHP (7)
Age: 22 (DOB: 7/11/1997)
Highest 2019 level: High-A

Rolison, a first round pick (22 overall) in 2018 out of the University of Mississippi, had 132 strikeouts in 131 innings at Low-A Asheville and High-A Lancaster in 2019. The hitter-friendly California League takes its toll on stats but Rolison has a big arm and a big future.

4. Ryan Vilade, SS (5)
Age: 20 (DOB: 2/18/1999)
Highest 2019 level: High-A

Vilade enjoyed his summer with 12 home runs, 24 stolen bases and a .303 batting average (.367 on-base percentage) at High-A Lancaster. Drafted in the second round in 2017 out of high school in Stillwater, OK, he may be the top player on this list a year from now. 

5. Colton Welker, 3B (4)
Age: 22 (DOB: 10/9/1997)
Highest 2019 level: AA

Welker had 10 HR and a .252 batting average during an injury-shortened 98-game season at Hartford. He needs to regain his .300-plus hit tool or develop more power to succeed at either third or first base.

6. Grant Lavigne, 1B (8)
Age: 20 (DOB: 8/27/1999)
Highest 2019 level: Low-A

Lavigne continues to rise steadily up this list even though he had more stolen bases (8) than home runs (7) at Low-A Asheville in 2019. The 6-4, 220-pound lefty hitting first baseman, drafted out of high school in New Hampshire in 2018 (42nd pick overall), profiles as a power-hitting first basemen or left fielder with more speed and better defense than one would expect.

7. Sam Hilliard, RF (9)
Age: 25 (DOB: 2/21/1994)
Highest 2019 level: MLB

Hilliard made his major-league debut in 2019, hitting 7 homers in 77 at-bats and getting well-deserved attention. Hilliard raked at AAA Albuquerque, with 35 HR, 101 RBI, 22 stolen bases and a .335 on-base percentage. This after a 2018 as an Eastern League all-star and Arizona Fall League standout. He should find a home in the Rockies’ outfield this summer and graduate from this list.

8. Aaron Schunk, 3B (UR)
Age: 22 (DOB: 7/24/1997)
Highest 2019 level: Short-Season A

Schunk, a second-round pick out of the University of Georgia, where he hit .339 in 2019, registered a .306/.370/.503 slash line (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging) in 173 at-bats at short-season Boise. He also hit six homers and has fair power. Schunk also has superior defensive skills, including a plus arm (he also pitched at Georgia and showed a 95 mph fastball). He profiles well at third at 6 feet, 2 inches and 205 pounds. Schunk may be the best hitter in the Rockies’ minor league system.

9. Terrin Vavra, SS/2B (11)
Age: 22 (DOB: 5/12/1997)
Highest 2019 level: Low-A

Vavra is looking like a major-league middle infielder. He can hit and run, compiling a .318 batting average with .409 OBP and 18 steals and 10 homers in 102 games at Low-A Asheville in 2019. He split his time between shortstop and second base and is a baseball lifer. Drafted in the third round (96th overall) out of the University of Minnesota in 2018, Vavra is the son of Joe Vavra, quality control coach for the Detroit Tigers and former bench coach of the Minnesota Twins, and has two older brothers who played in the Twins minor league system. 

10.  Yonathan Daza, CF (21)
Age: 25 (DOB: 2/28/1994)
Highest 2019 level: MLB

The Venezuelan has struggled in two stints in the big leagues but his speed, power and defensive prowess may yet earn him an outfield role in Denver. He had a slash line of .364/.404/.548 with 12 stolen bases in Albuquerque in 2019 and will compete for a backup job this spring.

11. Ben Bowden, LHP (24)
Age: 25 (DOB: 10/21/1994)
Highest 2019 level: AAA

Bowden had a combined 79 strikeouts in 51.2 innings and .196 batting average against at AA Hartford and AAA Albuquerque in 2019.  This after 78 strikeouts in 52 innings coming out of the bullpens in A-ball Asheville and Lancaster in 2018. The second-round pick from Vanderbilt was on the fast track to the Rockies’ bullpen when an injury put him on the shelf in 2017 but he’s now the most likely of a bevy of minor-league relievers to see time in Denver this summer. Oh, did we mention he was 20 for 20 in save chances at Hartford in 2019?

12. Tyler Nevin, 3B (3)
Age: 22 (DOB: 5/29/1997)
Highest 2019 level: AA

Nevin had 13 homers, 62 runs batted in and a .328 average in 100 games at High-A Lancaster in 2018, then followed with an outstanding performance in the Arizona Fall League. But the son of former player and current New York Yankees third-base coach Phil Nevin got off to a slow start in 2019 at AA Hartford, ending with 13 homers and a .251 batting average in 130 games. Albuquerque may prove a more favorable place to hit.


Tier 3
13. Ryan Castellani, RHP (19)
Age: 23 (DOB: 4/1/1996)
Highest 2019 level: AAA

Castellani had an injury-plagued and disappointing 2019 at Albuquerque, posting an 8.31 ERA. Still, he had 47 strikeouts in 43.1 innings. Inconsistency is his failing, but some of his outings, including a couple in the Arizona Fall League, were outstanding.

14. Casey Golden, LF (15)
Age: 25 (DOB: 9/1/1994)
Highest 2019 level: High-A

Golden is progressing steadily through the minors. He notched 23 homers and an .848 on-base plus slugging percentage in Lancaster in 2019, following 34 homers at Low-A Asheville in 2018 and 20 homers n 54 games in Rookie ball in 2017. Golden came in as a first baseman from UNC-Wilmington but the Rockies moved him to the outfield, where he can play either corner and even has the speed for center field. (He has 41 stolen bases in three minor league seasons.)

15. Niko Decolati, OF (30)
Age: 22 (DOB: 8/12/1997)
Highest 2019 level: Low-A

The Colorado native, 186th pick overall in the 2018 draft, had a solid season at low-A Asheville in 2019. He had 15 stolen bases and a .335 on-base percentage. Nicolati hit 11 homers with 56 RBI and stole 17 bases with a .327 batting average and .414 on-base percentage in 2018 at Rookie-level Grand Junction. He should do well at high-A Lancaster this summer.

16. Vince Fernandez, LF (16)
Age: 24 (DOB: 7/25/1995)
Highest 2019 level: AA

Fernandez was off to a good start but his 2019 season was marred by a 50-game suspension for amphetamine use. Fernandez had 15 homers and an .889 OPS in 74 games at AA Hartford in 2019 after a breakout season in the California League in 2018. He profiles as a major-league regular — his best tool is his throwing arm — but he needs to perform on and off the field going forward.

17. Brian Mundell, 1B (18)
Age: 25 (DOB: 2/28/1994)
Highest 2019 level: AAA

Mundell rebounded in 2019 after a disappointing 2018 in Hartford. He hit .333 with 11 home runs with a .399 on-base percentage at AAA Albuquerque. He may get at-bats this year in Denver.

18. Daniel Montano, CF (17)
Age 20 (DOB: 3/31/1999)
Highest 2019 level: Low-A

The young Venezuelan, signed for $2 million in 2015, faltered at Low-A Asheville in 2019 but he had 17 stolen bases and still has time to show whether he’s major-league material in center field.

19. Tommy Doyle, RHP (34)
Age: 23 (DOB: 5/1/1996)
Highest 2019 level: High-A

Doyle has 40 minor-league saves, 19 of them at Lancaster in 2019, and is headed for the Rockies’ bullpen. A 2017 draft pick from the University of Virginia, the 6-6, 235-pound is a power pitcher. He struck out 48 batters in 36 innings at Lancaster, with a fastball that can get up to 98 mph and a better than average slider. That 12 strikeouts per 9 ratio will do nicely.

20. Adael Amador, SS (UR)
Age: 16 (DOB: 4/11/2003)
The Rockies gave Amador, a 16-year-old Dominican, $1.5 million to sign on July 2 in the international signing period. MLB Pipeline rated him the 12th best international prospect eligible to sign in 2019-20. He profiles with an above-average hit tool, average speed and average power. He should be able to stay at shortstop. He’ll probably play all summer in the Dominican Summer League but he might get a tour in the U.S. this year.

21. Helcris Olivarez, LHP (UR)
Age: 19 (DOB: 8/8/2000)
Highest 2019 level: Rookie

Olivarez was signed for a $77,000 bonus out of the Dominican Republic in 2016. After parts of three summers in the Dominican Summer League, Olivarez showed his stuff at Grand Junction in 2019 with 61 strikeouts in 46.2 innings. His fastball hits 94 but his control is a work in progress. But as he fills out his 6-foot, 2-inch body, he’s got the look of a power lefty.

22. Robert Tyler, RHP (12)
Age: 24 (DOB: 6/18/1995)
Highest 2019 level: High-A

Tyler, a supplemental first-round pick (38th overall) out of the University of Georgia in 2016, has the fastball to close. Results are lagging so far in the minors, but we’ll see.

23. Ryan Feltner, RHP (25)
Age: 23 (DOB: 9/2/1996)
Highest 2019 level: Low-A

Feltner, the 126th pick overall in the 2018 draft out of Ohio State University, has a 98 mph fastball that may ultimately play in the bullpen.

24. Karl Kauffmann, RHP (UR)
Age: 22 (DOB: 8/15/1997)
Highest 2019 level: Inactive

Kauffmann was the 77th pick in the 2019 draft after pitching Michigan into the College World Series. He’s 6-2, 200 pounds with a mid-90s fastball, plus slider and plus changeup that could lead eventually to a rotation spot in Denver. Assigned to Boise, he did not pitch as a pro in 2019. 


Tier 4
25. Josh Fuentes, 1B/3B (26)
Age: 26 (DOB: 2/19/1993)
Highest 2019 level: MLB

Fuentes played 24 games for the Rockies in 2019 with uneventful results. Earlier in Albuquerque, he was solid if not as spectacular as in 2018. His ceiling is utility infielder, but he could contribute this summer.

26. Dom Nunez, C (UR)
Age: 24 (DOB: 1/17/1995)
Highest 2019 level: MLB

His 17 home runs, 42 RBI and a .362 OBP earned a promotion from Albuquerque to Denver. He’s bounced on and off this list but any catcher who plays in Coors Field might be fantasy relevant. The Rockies, however, are looking at other backup catchers so expect Nunez to start this spring in AAA.

27. Eddy Diaz, SS (33)
Age: 19 (DOB: 2/14/2000)
Highest 2019 level: Rookie

Diaz, a native of Cuba, showed blazing speed in 87 games over two seasons in the Dominican Summer League with 84 stolen bases and a .310 batting average and .411 on-base percentage. In Grand Junction in 2019 he had 20 stolen bases and a .331 batting average. A summer in A ball will give a better idea about his prospect status.

28. Roberto Ramos, 1B (27)
Age: 25 (DOB: 12/28/1994)
Highest 2019 level: AAA

Ramos looks like a power hitter at 6-feet-5 and 220 pounds and he acts like one too. He had 30 home runs, 105 RBIs and a .309 batting average at Albuquerque in 2019. But that wasn’t enough to get him added to the Rockies’ 40-man roster and no one claimed him in the Rule 5 draft either. He’s organizational depth, dependent on injury to get his chance in the majors.

29. Brenton Doyle, RF (UR)
Age: 21 (DOB: 5/14/1998)
Highest 2019 level: Rookie

Doyle, drafted in the fourth round from Shepherd University, WV, was a pleasant surprise for the Rockies in 2018. He had 8 homers, 33 RBI, 17 stolen bases, .383 batting average and .477 OBP over 51 games at Grand Junction. His  plus speed, plus arm and hit tool pop him into the middle of this list.

30. Julio Carreras, SS/3B (UR)
Age: 19 (DOB: 1/12/2000)
Highest 2019 level: Rookie

A 2017 international signee out of the Dominican Republic, Carreras has shown raw power and speed. He stole 13 bases with a .301 batting average in his first year in the U.S., at Grand Junction in 2019.

31. Riley Pint, RHP (10)
Age: 22 (DOB: 11/6/1997)
Highest 2019 level: Low-A

A first-round draft pick in 2016 out of high school in Overland Park, KS, Pint had his fourth disappointing and injury-marred season in 2019. He had 23 strikeouts in 17.2 innings but an 8.66 ERA at Asheville. Pint is just 22 but time is slipping away for him to ever justify his draft status.

32. PJ Poulin,  LHP (51)
Age: 23 (DOB: 7/25/1996)
Highest 2019 level: Low-A

The lefty had 69 strikeouts in 59 innings and 13 saves at Asheville. A year ago, after being drafted out of the University of Connecticut and having a solid short season at Boise in 2018, he was the last prospect on this list. Next year will see a similar rise if he keeps this up.

33. Bret Boswell, 2B (28)
Age: 24 (DOB: 10/4/1994)
Highest 2019 level: AA

An eighth-round draft pick out of the University of Texas in 2017, Boswell hit everywhere he’s been until he landed in AA Hartford in 2019. He earned Eastern League Player of the Week honors in August with a .947 slugging percentage, but he swapped power for average, finishing at .219 for the season. He needs to rebound this summer.

34. Will Ethridge, RHP (UR)
Age: 22 (DOB: 12/20/1997)
Highest 2019 level: Short-Season A

Drafted in the fifth round in 2019 out of the University of Mississippi and assigned to Boise, Ethridge started well with a 1.14 WHIP in 30 innings. At 6 feet 5 inches and 240 pounds, he could be a horse on the mound if he can command his fastball better and develop a plus slider to go along with his plus changeup.

35. Bladimir Restituyo, 2B (UR)
Age: 18 (DOB: 7/2/2001)
Highest 2019 level: Rookie

Restituyo made the leap from the Dominican Republic to the U.S. in 2019, performing well at Boise and Grand Junction. He finished with 6 homers and 22 stolen bases in 75 games and showed well at second base.

36. Ashton Goudeau, RHP (UR)
Age: 27 (DOB: 7/23/1992)
Highest 2019 level: AA

Goudeau zoomed into attention with an outstanding performance in the Arizona Fall League after a solid season at AA Hartford. A 27th-round pick by Kansas City in 2012, he was a starter at Hartford, with a 2.07 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 78.1 innings. The 6-foot-6 Goudeau did not allow a run in 13 innings in the AFL, allowing just four hits and no walks with 18 strikeouts for an 0.95 opponents’ average. He’ll be given every opportunity to make the big-league bullpen in spring.

37. Jacob Wallace, RHP (UR)
Age: 21 (DOB: 8/13/1998)
Highest 2019 level: Short-Season A

The Rockies’ third round draft pick in 2019 pitched well at Boise with 29 strikeouts in 21 innings and 12 saves and a 0.86 WHIP. This after allowing just three earned runs in 42 innings with 68 strikeouts as closer for the University of Connecticut Huskies. Wallace has a plus fastball which can reach 98 mph but needs to work on a secondary pitch. If he gets it, look out.

38. Sean Bouchard, 1B (46)
Age: 23 (DOB: 5/16/1996)
Highest 2019 level: High-A

Bouchard had a solid season at High-A Lancaster in 2019, with 13 homers, 68 runs batted in and a .354 on-base percentage. But he struck out 102 times in 349 at-bats and that has to change.

39. Colten Schmidt, LHP (UR)
Age: 23 (DOB: 11/25/1995)
Highest 2019 level: Low-A

The lefty starter, a 23rd-round pick in 2018, had a fine season at Asheville in 2019 with 107 strikeouts in 103.1 innings with a 2.18 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. 


Tier 5
40. Juan Guerrero, SS (39)
Age: 18 (DOB: 9/10/2001)
Highest 2019 level: DSL

Hits, runs, fields his position. We await results when he hits the U.S.

41. Coco Montes, 2B (37)
Age: 23 (DOB: 10/7/1996)
Highest 2019 level: Low-A

A 15th-round draft pick out of the University of South Florida in 2018, Montes showed more power (13 homers) but less speed (6 stolen bases) at Asheville in 2019. That’s a concern.

42. Christian Koss, SS (UR)
Age: 21 (DOB: 1/27/1998)
Highest 2019 level: Rookie

Koss flourished for Grand Junction after graduating from UC-Irvine and being drafted in the 12th round by the Rockies in 2019. He hit .332 (.447 OBP) with 11 homers, 51 RBI and 11 stolen bases in 190 at-bats. He’s an outstanding shortstop and also played second and third. Keep an eye on him.

43. Ezequiel Tovar, SS (UR)
Age: 18 (DOB: 8/1/2001)

A Venezuelan who signed in 2018, Tovar made his U.S. debut at Grand Junction and moved on to Boise. He had 17 stolen bases in 73 games and showed good defense.

44. Willie MacIver, C (UR)
Age: 23 (DOB: 10/28/1996)
Highest 2019 level: Low-A

The ninth-round 2018 draft pick out of the University of Washington performed well offensively and defensively at Asheville. He hit 13 homers and stole 12 bases.

45. Colin Simpson, C (UR)
Age: 23 (DOB: 7/23/1996)
Highest 2019 level: Rookie Advanced

A catcher drafted in the 29th round in 2019 who went from Oklahoma State University to Grand Junction where he was MVP of the Pioneer League after hitting .309 with 18 homers and 45 RBI in 207 at-bats. A power-hitting catcher is a good thing.

46. Mike Nikorak, RHP (35)
Age: 23 (DOB: 9/16/1996)
Highest 2019 level: Short Season-A

Nikorak is a first-round draft pick out of high school in Stroudsburg, PA, in 2015 who pitched 16 innings at Asheville in 2019 after recovery from Tommy John surgery. Wait and see.

47. Breiling Eusebio, LHP (47)
Age: 23 (DOB: 10/21/1996)
Highest 2019 level: Short Season-A

A notable prospect who pitched 38.1 innings at Boise in 2019 after missing most of 2018 with Tommy John surgery. Wait and see.

48. Mitchell Kilkenny, RHP (48)
Age: 22 (DOB: 3/24/1997)
Highest 2019 level: Rookie

The 76th pick in the 2018 MLB draft pitched 42 innings in 2019 after missing 2018 with Tommy John surgery. Wait and see.

49. Alan Trejo, SS (UR)
Age: 23 (DOB: 5/30/1996)
Highest 2019 level: AA

Trejo made the Eastern League All-Star team after a good first half at Hartford. He ended with 15 homers but a .290 OBP and will have to raise his batting average and on-base percentage this year.

50. Warming Bernabel, SS (50)
Age: 17 (DOB: 6/6/2002)
Highest 2019 level: DSL

The 17-year-old Dominican shortstop displayed his hit tool in the Dominican Summer League in 2019. He was the Rockies’ highest paid J2 signing in 2019, at $900,000. Let’s see what he does stateside.

Area 51. Ronaiker Palma, C (UR)
Age: 20 (DOB: January 2, 2000)
Highest 2019 level: Rookie

After looking good in the Dominican Summer League a year earlier, Palma was promoted to Grand Junction in 2019.


Keep an eye on: 

Walking Cabrera, 19, from the Dominican Republic, who signed in 2017 and made his U.S. debut in left field for Grand Junction in 2019. He struggled, hitting just .177 with 58 strikeouts in 147 at-bats. He has shown decent speed but little power to this point so he must hit to succeed.

2B Isaac Collins, 22, a ninth-round draft pick from Creighton University, who was limited by injury in 2019 but has blazing speed and is one to watch.

Jose Mujica, a former Tampa Bay Rays prospect signed by the Rockies in the offseason. Mujica, 23, a Venezuelan who has been in pro baseball since 2013, had Tommy John surgery in 2018 and missed all of last season. But he was 5-1 with a 2.71 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 36.2 innings at Durham in 2018. Maybe, just maybe, he ends up on the mound at Coors Field this summer.

Antonio Santos, a 23-year-old Dominican, struck out 140 in 145.2 innings at Lancaster and Hartford. But a 2.77 ERA at the Arizona Fall League puts him on the list of starting pitching depth for the Rockies.




About Michael Parnell 26 Articles
Michael Parnell is a retired newspaper editor who covers the Colorado Rockies for Prospects1500. He is a longtime fantasy baseball fan who now focuses on his dynasty teams in Diamond Duos and Dynasty Sports Empire leagues. He recently relocated from Fernandina Beach, Fla., to Albuquerque, N.M. Follow him on Twitter @parnellmichael.

2 Comments

  1. Not sure if you did the work or did the Rockies had you this list? Roberto Ramos is a 4th tier player? come on! Do the work and watch these guys play. I’ve watched them all for 4 years now, and to have Reilly even on that list is not fair. He has potential, but haven’t seen it. Give it to the guys that earn it on the field not the bank.

  2. I did the list. I’ve seen Ramos play in Albuquerque and like him. But he may be a 4-A player, too good for AAA, not good enough for the majors. He was not put on the 40-man roster by the Rox and any team could have had him in the Rule 5 draft but none picked him. If he gets a chance, he could succeed in the majors. I downplayed him because I’m not sure he’ll get a chance. Hope I’m wrong! Thanks for the comment.

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