At the 2023 MLB Trade deadline, the Colorado Rockies managed to shock more than a few people by breaking from recent tradition and making several transactions aimed at rebuilding the farm system and clearing the way for the next generation.

In total, including all in-season activity, Rox GM Bill Schmidt sent out five veteran players on expiring contracts and a little bit of cash, in exchange for seven prospect pitchers.

The first move came on June 25 when Mike Moustakas was moved to the Los Angeles Angels for Connor Van Scoyoc, a 6’6, 234 lb, 23-year-old right-hander with big strikeout numbers in the minors. He has since made four impressive starts in High-A, earning a promotion to the Double-A Yard Goats.

Next up was reliever Pierce Johnson who, despite some struggles this season, managed to net the Rockies a pair of intriguing arms out of the Atlanta system with 25-year-old lefty Tanner Gordon and arguably the most exciting player of the entire group; righty Victor Vodnik.

Fangraphs has Vodnik’s fastball rated at a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale with 50 representing the major league average. He can sit in the high 90s with it and also has a good change-up (50 on the scale) to keep hitters honest. He has shown some command issues with high walk rates throughout the minors but his ERA remains minuscule thanks to absolutely massive strikeout numbers.

He had pitched 40.2 innings out of the ‘pen for Atlanta’s Double-A squad with a 3.10 ERA caused mostly by a walk rate of 5.53 per nine innings, which is unacceptable, but buoyed by a strikeout rate of 12.39 per nine innings, which is incredible.

The biggest move from a philosophy-shifting perspective, came when the team flipped C.J. Cron and Randal Grichuk to the Angels for another couple of promising pitchers.

Mason Albright gives them another lefty who is having a good season, posting a 3.62 ERA over 79.2 innings in A ball so far in 2023. He’s striking out 9.72 per nine and walking just 2.26. Fangraphs sees his curveball as already above MLB average at 55.

Jake Madden was ranked eighth overall in LA’s system and brings a profile that features three potentially above average pitches with his fastball, slider, and changeup and appears to be on the rise at just 21 years old.

Colorado finished off the trade season by swapping lefty reliever Brad Hand for righty reliever Alec Barger and doling out a bit of cash to get Justin Bruihl from the Dodgers system.

Barger and Bruihl are a little bit older at 25 and 26 respectively, and naturally they each have more experience. Barger has been excellent this year in Double-A, posting a 3.29 ERA in 38.1 innings while striking out 11.27 per nine. Unfortunately he, too, has struggled with walks, giving out 4.93 free passes per nine.

Bruihl is the only player the Rockies received with big league experience, having thrown 66.2 innings for the Dodgers with a 3.65 ERA. The highest ERA he ever posted in the minors was 3.80 and he has also consistently kept his walk rate under three per nine.

All told, the Rockies added seven young arms (three of them lefties) to their system, a few of which may be able to contribute right away, and several of which have tools and resumes that suggest they could be vital parts of the next era.

Like with all prospects, there is the possibility that it doesn’t work out for some or even all of these players but from a process standpoint, any objective observer has to recognize that this is an impressive haul for five players who the club would otherwise have lost for nothing.

None of us have a crystal ball, so all we can do to find out if the Colorado Rockies actually “won” at the 2023 MLB trade deadline is watch what happens next.