The Colorado Rockies annual road horror show appears to be in full swing. There is a lot of season left to play but the club still has some clear issues they need to deal with if they are going to surprise their pre-season expectations.
Still, early as it is, it is interesting to note that the decisions GM Bill Schmidt had made thus far have been panning out.
So far in 2022, Trevor Story, Jon Gray, and Raimel Tapia have combined for a -0.5 fWAR.
Meanwhile, Chad Kuhl, Jose Iglesias, and Randal Grichuk have combined for +1.0 fWAR.
Story is likely to get going at some point and has the power to flip that dynamic all by himself but the fact is that to this point, the players Colorado let go have performed much worse than the players Colorado acquired. This is without factoring in Kris Bryant which should more or less be seen as the final piece of the Nolan Arenado deal. For what it’s worth, he has a -0.3 so far.
Either way, this relative success has led to a string of articles from those who have panned the team and the GM in the recent past, lamenting that he ever took the job in the first place, insisting on giving Schmidt credit where it is due.
And a recent trend in another part of the organization might mean we are going to start seeing another series of think pieces in a similar vein. Prepare yourselves for the “Rockies Farm System is Better Than We Thought” barrage.
A week ago, four Rockies farm hands won their respective league’s Player of the Week awards for each level of MiLB.
Wynton Bernard took home the hardware for his work with Triple-A Albuquerque which has been beyond tremendous. The 6’2 outfielder is hitting a ridiculous .397/.436/.808 with six home runs, five stolen bases, and 23 RBI in 23 games. That’s good for a wRC+ of 203.
Bernard is not listed among the Rockies Top 30 prospects according to MLB Pipeline nor is he on the 40-man roster but he will be on both if he keeps up anything close to this pace.
Some of his teammates in the ABQ, though, do already have both distinctions.
Colton Welker was the first to make his MLB debut last year and despite falling out of favor with some evaluators to the point he has slipped down to 23rd on the Pipeline, he has continued to put up consistent numbers. Welker is currently slashing .324/.422/.514 and is only striking out 15.6% of the time. But some odd health issues have limited his playing time to just 10 games.
Elehuris Montero (4th on Pipeline) has been similarly impressive with a 119 wRC+ and six home runs in 28 games. This prompted the club to promote him for a weekend wherein he made his MLB debut and collected a pair of hits in four plate appearances, leaving him with a current batting average of .500 at the highest level in the land.
Ryan Vilade is the one position player in AAA and on the Pipeline list (9) who isn’t performing well so far with a 75 wRC+ in 25 games.
On the pitching side, neither Ryan Rolison nor Helcris Olivarez have pitched yet due to injury, but Ryan Feltner (21) has been very good.
He’s got a 3.26 ERA which may not seem like much but is a borderline miracle in the PCL. He is striking out 10.98 hitters per nine innings and walking just 2.97 per nine. Those are fantastic peripherals and he showed well in his spot start in Philadelphia.
The potential stars at the lower levels are producing too.
Zac Veen (1) has posted a 134 wRC+ in 24 games at High-A, following up his 135 from a year ago. With their most recent update, Veen now sits at 34th overall on the MLB Pipeline Top 100 prospects.
Benny Montgomery (3) has recovered to a 100 wRC+ after a slow start in A-ball and has hit two home runs and stolen three bases in 13 games.
Drew Romo (2) is turning a lot of heads, posting a 151 wRC+ in 25 games so far in High-A. This comes from a catcher who was primarily praised, scouted, and drafted for his remarkable defense. Romo’s bat, which was also consistently above average last season, jumped him onto the Top 100 as well, debuting in the final available spot.
Eddy Diaz (N/A) took home an award last week in High-A and has been solid this season with a 97 wRC+ as he tries to reclaim a spot as a prospect to watch out for. Even Riley Pint, who had momentarily retired, has returned to some solid numbers in Double-A with a 3.46 ERA and 11.77 K/9. He is walking 4.15 per nine but that’s a big step in the right direction.
The Player of the Week award won by the Rockies prospect in A-ball was 19-year-old middle infielder Adael Amador who has a 165 wRC+ and six home runs in 25 games.
And yet somehow, someway, none of these guys have been the most exciting player in the Rockies supposedly terrible system.
Ezequiel Tovar, who we profiled before the season as the potential “Next Big Thing” for this organization, has been on an absolute tear in his Double-A debut.
Tovar, already a stellar defender at shortstop, is hitting .343/.430/.610 (194 wRC+) and has hit six home runs and stolen 11 bases in 27 games. Three of the home runs have been game winners. He is 20 years old.
He will be on the next Top 100 list and it won’t be at number 100. That is, if he doesn’t make his MLB debut first.
The 2022 season is a small simple size yet, but you couldn’t ask for much more positive momentum currently from the young players set to impact the Colorado Rockies future.