Colorado Rockies 2021 Top 50 Prospects

Graphic design by John Stewart, @jonance on Twitter

The Colorado Rockies have one of the best prospects in baseball in Zac Veen but this is not one of the better minor league systems. The Rockies slow-walk their prospects so even years after they lose prospect status there are still questions about the fantasy value of their young players.

This year three players graduated from this list who have a chance to win big-league jobs: Brendan Rodgers, perennial #1 prospect whose development has been hindered by inconsistency and injury; Josh Fuentes, long thought to be a backup corner infielder but who will have a chance to win the first-base job this year; and Sam Hilliard, who struggled in his opportunity to solidify an everyday outfielder job in 2020. The team traded infielders Terrin Vavra and Tyler Nevin, quality prospects moved to Baltimore for a relief pitcher, and lost outfielder Vince Fernandez, selected by San Francisco in the Rule 5 Draft. All six were in the top 24 on last year’s list.

New prospects join the list via trade, the amateur draft or international development. Others fell off after a mostly lost season of development. Those who participated in alternate camp or instructional league got an advantage because at least they were seen. If no information could be found about a player it was assumed he did not participate formally last year.


Rockies Minor League Affiliates:
Triple-A:
Albuquerque (Pacific Coast League)
Double-A: Hartford (Eastern League)
High-A: Spokane (Northwest League)
Low-A: Fresno (California 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. Zac Veen, OF
Age: 19
Highest Level: High School

Now that Brendan Rodgers has finally graduated to the Rockies, the new top prospect is Zac Veen, 19, who was the team’s top draft pick, #9 overall, in last June’s First Year Player Draft. Veen, a left-handed hitting outfielder who graduated from Spruce Creek High School in Port Orange, Florida, turned heads on the amateur player circuit and was by many accounts the best high school player in the draft. The 6-foot, 4-inch, 190-pound centerfielder has above average power, speed, a strong arm and a great hit tool. He was a University of Florida commitment but signed a $5 million deal with the Rockies to get started on what some see as an MVP-level major-league career. Veen likely will man one of the corners in the spacious Coors Field outfield. His quick bat, raw power and baseball acumen make him an ideal choice for the Rockies. His defense needs work, and of course he will have to adjust to pitching as he moves up the ladder, but the Rocky Mountain sky is the limit here.

Tier 2

2. Michael Toglia, 1B
Age: 22
Highest Level: A-

Toglia provided a boost to the minor league system after being selected in the first round of the 2019 amateur 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. But his progress was stunted in 2020, like so many others, with no minor league season. The switch-hitting first baseman received individualized instruction at alternate camp after being named to the 60-man player pool but he really could have used a season at A ball and maybe AA. 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, profiles as the team’s first baseman of the future but he needs minor league reps to achieve that potential.

3. Ryan Rolison, LHP
Age: 23
Highest Level: 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. Southpaw Rolison has a big arm and a big future with the team, which is why he was assigned to the alternate camp and even traveled with the team on its season-ending road trip as part of the taxi squad. He showed well there and in spring training and instructional league in 2020. He should see time at AA Hartford and AAA Albuquerque if there is a normal minor league season this year and could even get a September call to the majors.

4. Ryan Vilade, IF/OF
Age: 21
Highest Level: A+

Drafted in the second round in 2017 out of high school in Stillwater, OK, Vilade enjoyed his 2019 with 12 home runs, 24 stolen bases and a .303 batting average (.367 on-base percentage) at High-A Lancaster. He looked good at alternate camp and played outfield in the instructional league in 2020. Vilade’s days as a shortstop may be over but he could still play at third or in left field. Probably headed for AA Hartford in 2021.

5. Colton Welker, 1B/3B
Age: 23
Highest Level: AA

Welker had 10 HR and a .252 batting average during an injury-shortened 98-game season at Hartford in 2019, his first sub-.300 batting average season as a pro. He’s a dubious fit defensively at third, which is why the Rockies are trying him at first base. He needs to improve his power and recharge his hit tool to stay there though. He may have been hurt the most by the lack of a regular 2020 season. He’s still got the tools and the Rockies have faith, adding him to their 40-man roster in December, but he’s sliding down this list and needs a bounceback season.

6. Grant Lavigne, 1B
Age: 21
Highest Level: A+

Lavigne had more stolen bases (8) than home runs (7) at Low-A Asheville in 2019, a strange turn for the 6-4, 220-pound lefty hitting first baseman drafted out of high school in New Hampshire in 2018 (42nd pick overall). He profiles as a power-hitting first basemen or left fielder with more speed and better defense than one would expect, and 2020 was expected to provide evidence of that power. But of course there was no minor league season and Lavigne had to content himself with the fall instructional league in Arizona.

7. Aaron Schunk, 3B
Age: 23
Highest Level: A

Schunk, a second-round pick out of the University of Georgia in 2019,  registered a .306/.370/.503 slash line (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging) in 173 at-bats at short-season Boise in 2019. Schunk 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. If his power and hit tool develop, he will be a major-league regular and possibly an all-star.

8. Drew Romo, C
Age: 19
Highest Level: High School

Romo, 19, is a catcher out of The Woodlands High School in Texas who was drafted 35th overall by the Rockies in the 2020 MLB amateur draft. He was a middle infielder who switched to catcher and performed so well he was the starting catcher on the Team USA 18U squad. Romo is a a team leader whose defense is his calling card but whose hitting has shown flashes during his amateur career.

9. Brenton Doyle, OF
Age: 22
Highest Level: Rookie

This guy is beginning to look like a major leaguer. At 6 feet, 3 inches, 200 pounds, he’s the complete package. Doyle, 22, was drafted in the fourth round of the 2019 MLB amateur draft from Shepherd University, West Virginia. He had 8 homers, 33 RBI, 17 stolen bases, a .383 batting average and .477 OBP over 51 games at Rookie-level Grand Junction in his first pro season. His plus speed, plus arm and hit tool garnered a lot of attention during instructional league in Arizona in fall 2020. . Both the real and fantasy baseball worlds have taken notice.

Tier 3

10.  Yonathan Daza, CF
Age: 26
Highest Level: MLB

The Venezuelan struggled in 97 at-bats in the big leagues in 2019 but he has hit at every other level. That, plus his speed, power and defensive prowess, may yet earn him at least a backup outfield role in Denver. He had a slash line of .364/.404/.548 with 12 stolen bases in Albuquerque earlier in 2019 but didn’t get a second chance in the big leagues last summer. David Dahl’s departure may open up playing time, at least as a defensive replacement.

11. Ben Bowden, LHP
Age: 26
Highest 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 (20 of 20 in save chances at Hartford).  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 rebounded nicely and, after appearing in Arizona instructional league last fall, probably will appear in Coors Field this summer.

12. Julio Carreras, 3B
Age: 20
Highest Level: Rookie

A 2017 international signee out of the Dominican Republic, Carreras has 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. He could have used the time in the minor leagues this year to refine his game, but he performed well in instructional league in Arizona this fall.

13. Ryan Castellani, RHP
Age: 24
Highest Level: MLB

Castellani made his major league debut in 2020, posting a 1-4 win-loss record, 5.82 earned run average and 1.45 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) with 25 strikeouts in 43.1 innings. Nothing to get too excited about but it was a strange year so he gets a pass. Castellani had an injury-plagued and disappointing 2019 at Albuquerque, posting an 8.31 ERA. Still, he had 47 strikeouts in 43.1 innings there. Inconsistency is his failing, but the Rockies still project him as part of their rotation going forward.

14. Jordan Sheffield, RHP
Age: 25
Highest Level: AA

The Rockies selected Sheffield in the Rule 5 draft in December. Drafted by the Dodgers out of Vanderbilt in 2016, Sheffield has struck out 240 in 211.1 minor league innings. But he walked too many and the Dodgers converted him to a reliever. If the Rockies keep him in the major league bullpen for all of 2021 he’s theirs. The hard thrower has a chance to find a place there.


15. Chris McMahon, RHP
Age: 21
Highest Level: College

McMahon was chosen in the second round of the 2020 MLB amateur draft out of the University of Miami, where he struck out 38 and pitched to a 1.05 ERA in four starts last spring before Covid halted his junior season. The Pennsylvania native has good command of three pitches and figures to be a back of the rotation starter.

16. Helcris Olivarez, LHP
Age: 20
Highest Level: Rookie

Olivarez was signed for a $77,000 bonus out of the Dominican Republic in 2016. He has struck out 177 in 148.1 innings in the minors and attracted attention as a back of the bullpen option. The power lefty is a potential closer with three plus pitches, a fastball, curve and changeup.

17. Antonio Santos, RHP
Age: 24
Highest Level: MLB

Santos made his big-league debut in 2020, giving up 11 earned runs in 6 innings. But the 24-year-old Dominican struck out 140 in 145.2 innings at High-A Lancaster and AA Hartford in 2019 and had a 2.77 ERA coming out of the bullpen in the Arizona Fall League. He has a fastball that tops out at 97 mph but his command is inconsistent. He’ll get another chance this summer.

18. Daniel Montano, CF
Age 21
Highest Level: A

The Venezuelan signed for $2 million in 2015 has raw tools, including special speed, and profiles as a centerfielder but the lost time in 2020 due to coronavirus stunted his development.

19. Tommy Doyle, RHP
Age: 24
Highest Level: MLB

Doyle made made his MLB debut in 2020, giving up 6 runs in 2.1 innings in 3 appearances. But his 98 mph fastball led to 40 minor-league saves, 19 of them at Lancaster in 2019, where he struck out 48 batters in 36 innings. A 2017 draft pick from the University of Virginia, the 6-6, 235-pound is headed to the back of the Rockies’ bullpen.

20. Adael Amador, SS
Age: 17
Highest Level: 2019 international signee

Colorado gave Amador, then a 16-year-old Dominican, $1.5 million to sign in 2019. He has turned heads since with an above-average hit tool, decent speed and average power and the defensive skills to stay at shortstop. 

21. Niko Decolati, OF
Age: 23
Highest Level: A

The Colorado native was the 186th pick overall in the 2018 draft. He had a solid season at low-A Asheville in 2019 with 15 stolen bases and a .335 on-base percentage after 11 homers with 56 RBI and 17 stolen bases with a .327 batting average and .414 on-base percentage in 2018 at Rookie-level Grand Junction. He profiles as a fourth outfielder.

22. Ryan Feltner, RHP
Age: 24
Highest Level: A

Feltner, the 126th pick overall in the 2018 draft out of Ohio State University, showed a 95-97 mph fastball and nasty slider during instructs, drawing raves from Rockies’ brass.

23. Karl Kauffmann, RHP
Age: 23
Highest Level: College

Kauffmann has yet to pitch in minor league games after being the 77th pick in the 2019 draft and 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. The Rockies helped him develop in alternate camp this past summer.

24. Jameson Hannah, OF
Age: 23
Highest Level: A+

Oakland selected Hannah in the second round of the 2018 amateur draft out of Dallas Baptist University, then traded him to Cincinnati in 2019. The Reds sent him to the Rockies last fall in a trade; the Rockies liked what they saw when they scouted him in instructional league. He has yet to show power or a consistent hit tool and, at 23, has yet to play above A ball. We’ll see what he shows if he gets a chance at AA Hartford this summer.

25. Dom Nunez, C
Age: 25
Highest Level: MLB

Nunez hit 17 home runs with 42 RBI and a .362 OBP in Albuquerque in 2019 and that landed him at alternate camp and then in Denver. He didn’t show much offense in 2020 but any catcher who plays in Coors Field might be fantasy relevant. The Rockies have him penciled in as the backup catcher this summer.

26. Willie MacIver, C
Age: 24
Highest Level: A

The ninth-round 2018 draft pick out of the University of Washington performed well offensively and defensively at Low A  Asheville with 13 homers and stole 12 bases in 2019. That earned him a trip to alternate camp last summer where he provided catching depth, got instruction and earned high praise.

27. Sam Weatherly, LHP
Age: 21
Highest Level: College

Weatherly was drafted out of Clemson in the third round of the 2020 amateur draft. The 6-feet, 4-inch left-hander throws a mid-90s fastball and a much slower slider that could be his best pitch. He needs another quality pitch to be a starter but he could be an effective bullpen piece soon.

28. Ever Moya, LHP
Age: 21
Highest Level: Rookie

Moya, a 6-4, 220-pound left-hander signed out of Panama in 2016, is a tough call. He seemed to find his way in 2019 at rookie ball Grand Junction, striking out 43 in 29.1 innings and allowing only 23 hits. The Rockies liked him enough to make room on their 40-man roster for him last fall. So here he is, first time on this list. He’s expected to be a bullpen option down the road.

29. Will Ethridge, RHP
Age: 23
Highest Level: A-

Ethridge was drafted in the fifth round in 2019 out of the University of Mississippi. 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.

Tier 4

30. Casey Golden, LF
Age: 26
Highest Level: A+

Golden progressed steadily through the minors but the lost 2020 minor league season really hurt the now 26-year-old and he wasn’t protected on the team’s 40-man roster. But he went unselected in the Rule 5 draft in December meaning no other team sees him as major-league ready either. The power-hitting and base-stealing former first baseman at UNC-Wilmington is now an outfielder and needs a good 2021 to keep from dropping even farther down this list.

31.  Bret Boswell, 2B
Age: 26
Highest Level: AA

Time is running out on Boswell, an eighth-round draft pick out of the University of Texas in 2017. But he’s on the 40-man roster so maybe this is the year we see him in Denver.

32. Eddy Diaz, SS
Age: 20
Highest 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 lost summer in 2020 leaves his prospect status pending further review.

33. Bladimir Restituyo, OF
Age: 19
Highest Level: A-

Restituyo made the leap from the Dominican Republic to the U.S. in 2019, performing well at Boise and Grand Junction. He moved from second base to outfield at instructional league in 2020. He’s got tools but needs minor league game time.

34. Jose Mujica, RHP
Age: 24
Highest Level: MLB

Mujica, 24, a former Tampa Bay Rays prospect signed by the Rockies last offseason, had an inauspicious debut but he only pitched four innings in 2020. The hard-throwing Venezuelan figures for more bullpen duty this summer.

35. Gavin Hollowell, RHP
Age: 23
Highest Level: Rookie

Hollowell was drafted in the sixth round of the amateur draft in 2019 out of St. Johns University. He struck out 30 in 18.2 innings that summer at Rookie level Grand Junction. A 2.89 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 7 saves also garnered attention and he was invited to instructional league in 2020. At 6 feet 7 inches, with a mid-90s fastball and plus slider, he’s turning heads and on the fast track to the Rockies bullpen.

36. Sean Bouchard, 1B
Age: 24
Highest Level: 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. He needs time at AA and AAA.

37. Yoan Aybar, LHP
Age: 23
Highest Level: A+

The Rockies obtained Aybar in a trade with the Boston Red Sox for infielder Christian Koss in December. The former outfielder could figure in the Rockies bullpen as soon as this season.

Tier 5

38. Justin Lawrence, RHP
Age: 26
Highest Level: AAA

Back from an 80-game suspension for drug use, Lawrence hopes to return to form as a potential back of the bullpen piece for the Rockies.

39. Coco Montes, 2B
Age: 24
Highest Level: A

Montes was a 15th-round draft pick out of the University of South Florida in 2018. He showed power but not much speed in Low A in 2019. The lost season of 2020 put a damper on his development.

40. Ezequiel Tovar, SS
Age: 19
Highest Level: Rookie

A Venezuelan who signed in 2018, Tovar had 17 stolen bases in 73 games and showed good defense during his U.S. debut at Grand Junction and Boise in 2019. A defense-first shortstop, he showed better bat skills at alternate camp this past summer. To be fantasy relevant he needs to hit. But that speed, man, that speed. 

41. Yanquiel Fernandez, OF
Age: 17
Highest Level: 2019 international signee

The Cuban signed with the Rockies in 2019. The lefty hitter has a smooth power stroke, good hit tool and looks the part at 6-2 200. High risk, high reward.

42.PJ Poulin, LHP
Age: 24
Highest Level: A

The lefty had 69 strikeouts in 59 innings and 13 saves at Asheville in 2019 a year after being drafted out of the University of Connecticut. We need to see more.

43. Colten Schmidt, LHP
Age: 24
Highest Level: 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. We need to see more.

44. Jacob Kostyshock, RHP
Age: 23
Highest Level: Rookie

The eighth-round draft pick from the University of Arkansas in 2019 looked good in rookie ball that summer and again in instructional league in 2020. He has a mid-90s sinker and an improving slider. An emerging bullpen arm.

45. Warming Bernabel, 3B
Age: 18
Highest Level: Rookie

The 18-year-old Dominican shortstop made his U.S. debut in instructional league in 2020. He displayed his hit tool in the Dominican Summer League after being the Rockies’ highest paid J2 signing in 2019, at $900,000. The talent is there; so is the youth.

46. Jack Blomgren, SS
Age: 22
Highest Level: College

Blomgren was drafted in the fifth round of the 2020 amateur draft out of the University of Michigan, where he played winning baseball. At this point, he’s likely organizational depth.

47. Juan Guerrero, SS
Age: 18
Highest Level: Rookie
Hits, runs, fields his position well but another player hurt by a lost season.

48. Mitchell Kilkenny, RHP
Age: 23
Highest Level: Rookie

The 76th pick in the 2018 MLB draft pitched 42 innings in 2019 after missing 2018 with Tommy John surgery. He was not added to the alternate camp or instructional league rosters though.

49. Yolki Pena, LF
Age: 20
Highest Level: Rookie

Pena was signed in the Dominican Republic in 2017 and has shown promise with the bat. Not much power but good speed and a good eye at the plate. Keep an eye on him.

50. Riley Pint, RHP
Age: 23
Highest Level: A

A first-round draft pick in 2016 out of high school in Overland Park, Kansas, Pint’s career has been derailed by injury and poor performance. He did not wow in instructional league this fall. This is as close as you can get to falling off this list.

Area 51. Isaac Collins, 2B/CF
Age: 23
Highest Level: A-

A ninth-round draft pick from Creighton University limited by injury in 2019 who has blazing speed and the chops to play centerfield.




About Michael Parnell 31 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.

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