Colorado Rockies Prospects: Who To Watch, and Where

Colton Welker, Hartford Yard Goats, April 30, 2019 - photo credit Scott Greene, @Scotty_Ballgame on Twitter

A full season of major and minor league ball is upon us. Which of the Colorado prospects will rock the Rockies? Here are a handful of choices, one for each team in the organization.

Denver: As of now, the only rookie making an impact on the big-league squad is Dom Nunez, who had three home runs and five runs batted in after 20 at-bats to open the 2021 season. 

Nunez, 26, a sixth-round pick by the Rockies in 2013, hit 17 home runs with 42 RBI and a .362 OBP in Albuquerque in 2019. He didn’t show much offense on his first call-up to the majors but earned the role of backup catcher this spring. He may be playing himself into the top catcher role.

Any catcher who plays in Coors Field might be fantasy relevant. If Nunez, #25 on my Colorado Rockies Top 50 prospects list, keeps this up, he will win the job of starting catcher and put up some decent numbers this summer.

Albuquerque: Colton Welker, 23, had a frustrating injury-marred season at AA Hartford in 2019 but he has batted .313 in his minor league career of more than 1,200 at-bats. He could thrive at AAA Albuquerque this year. Welker can play third but is a better fit at first base. He’s got the tools to be an above-average major-league hitter and the Rockies added him to their 40-man roster in December. If Welker, #5 on our Colorado Rockies Top 50 prospect list, can improve his power and resume hitting for average he could be playing in Denver before season’s end.

Hartford: Ryan Vilade has yet to play at AA but he should spend much of this season in Hartford before earning a promotion to AAA. The 22-year-old, drafted in the second round in 2017 out of high school in Stillwater, OK, had 12 home runs, 24 stolen bases and a .303 batting average (.367 on-base percentage) at High-A Lancaster in 2019. He looked good at alternate camp and moved from shortstop to outfield in the instructional league in 2020. The #4 prospect on our Colorado Rockies Top 50 prospect list may be the best hitter in the Rockies’ minor league system and should steadily progress to Coors Field.

Spokane: Michael Toglia, 22, likely will start at High-A Spokane this summer but he may not be there long. The strapping first baseman, #2 on our Colorado Rockies Top 50 prospect list, was selected in the first round of the 2019 MLB Draft, the 23rd pick overall. Toglia, at 6 feet, 5 inches tall, weighing 226 pounds, profiles as the team’s first baseman of the future and 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. The switch-hitter got individualized instruction at alternate camp after being named to the 60-man player pool but he really could have used a minor league season. He may have the best power of all the Rockies minor league hitters. He just needs a chance to play.

Fresno: Brenton Doyle, 22, only has 180 minor league at-bats but he was so impressive at instructional league in 2020 that he may rocket his way to the big leagues. Listed at #9 among our Colorado Rockies Top 50 prospects, Doyle is 6 feet, 3 inches, 200 pounds with plus speed, plus arm and plus hit tool. Drafted in the fourth round of the 2019 MLB Draft from Shepherd University, West Virginia, Doyle 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. He should see both Low-A Fresno and Spokane this summer, if not Hartford. The Rockies slow-walk their prospects but Doyle is on the fast track.

Arizona: Yolki Pena was signed in the Dominican Republic in 2017 and has shown good speed, a good eye at the plate and promise with the bat. The leftfielder, 22, hasn’t shown power but he only weighs 165 pounds and has time to bulk up. He spent a couple of seasons in the Dominican league and played 36 games at Rookie-level Grand Junction in 2019. He could start in Arizona and quickly move to Fresno, Spokane and even Hartford this summer if his tools translate into performance. He’s our #49 player on the Colorado Rockies Top 50 prospects list but he’s aiming for much higher.

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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