ROCKIES

ESPN ranks Rockies farm system as getting worse

Feb 2, 2024, 4:01 PM

The Colorado Rockies haven’t been over .500 in the last five seasons so their farm system must be replete of talent just waiting to burst on the scene, right? Wrong. According to ESPN, the Rockies are not only in the lower third of MLB’s farm system rankings, but the team’s haul of prospects have taken a step back from this time last year.

ESPN’s farm system rankings came out on Friday, and the Rockies fell to 22, according to Kiley McDaniel. Like where the Rockies have finished in the standings the past two seasons, their farm system ranking is last in the NL West behind. ESPN gave the San Diego Padres fourth, the Los Angeles Dodgers eighth, the San Francisco Giants 15th and the Arizona Diamondbacks 21st.

To be fair to the Rockies, the club’s top prospect from 2023 was Ezequiel Tovar who propelled the team’s ranking to 16, has debuted and succeeded in his first 162 games. But the second-best prospect in the organization last year, Zac Veen, has fallen off of many’s radar. That’s left the Rockies with a group of prospects, who just started to touch the high minors at the end of last season—meaning it’ll be 2025 before we see this young group with suspect rankings.

McDaniel wrote this about the Rockies:

The Rockies have been hard to pin down of late in terms of big picture strategy, and they had five notable pitchers (three prospects, two pitchers in the big league rotation) go down with Tommy John surgery last season, but they’ve been doing a pretty good job of developing position players.

Adael Amador, Yanquiel Fernandez, Sterlin Thompson, Dyan Jorge and Robert Calaz were clear arrow-up prospects while Cole Carrigg from the 2023 draft class is intriguing and former high picks Drew Romo and Jordan Beck at least held serve last season. I don’t see a path to contending soon, particularly in the NL West, but these players could make up a solid big league core starting in 2025.

Earlier in the week, he named two Rockies to his top 100 prospects list: shortstop Adael Amador and right-handed pitcher Chase Dollander.

Amador is a six-footer switch-hitter with good contact-hitting and fielding abilities. The 20-year-old has been climbing up prospect lists and made it to Double-A at the very end of last season. His .392 on-base percentage in 54 games of High-A ball stands out but he’s not a powerful hitter, which may develop as he ages. Of course, because Tovar just debuted at short and has done a fine job, there will be a question of position especially if the Rockies take an early jump with Amador like they did Tovar. ESPN ranked Amador the No. 33 prospect in baseball and he’ll get his first taste of big league camp this month.

A 6-foot-2 righty, Dollander was the Rockies pick at No. 9 in the 2023 draft out of Tennessee. There his fastball got into the high 90s and struck out 228 hitters in 168 innings while only issuing 43 walks. He’s 22 and yet to make his minor league debut. Dollander comes in at 93.

Veen, the ninth pick in 2020, is now unraked after being a perennial darling prospect. He repeated Double-A last year, and was struggling and then missed the second half with a hand injury. He’s healthy and a non-roster invite to big league camp this month.

The Rockies big league roster is getting younger, going from one of the oldest in 2022, to the middle of the pack in 2023, and should be in the youngest third starting in 2024. Between Tovar, Nolan Jones and Brenton Doyle, the Rockies are starting to show a young group of solid players after the last crew of Ryan McMahon and Brendan Rodgers graduated and are still having a positive impact and are relativity young.

What you won’t notice much of though is pitching. Of the Rockies top 12 prospects, according to MLB.com’s list, Dollander is the lone pitcher. They’re a bit higher on Coloraodo’s top four, putting outfielders Fernandez and Beck in baseball’s top 100 as well but that still leaves the issue of pitching. Colorado was last in ERA last season and the only help that appears to be on the way is hoping on the health of German Marquez and Antonio Senzatela, who are each coming back from Tommy John. Those two and Kyle Freeland are all that remain of Colorado’s last class of young starters, which has now seen Jon Gray win a World Series and Tyler Anderson be an All-Star elsewhere. The rotation in 2024 will be a mishmash of arms until Marquez and Senzatela are healthy, and even then—the future of Colorado’s arms is a giant mystery even if Tovar turns superstar and Amador hits. That’s why Colorado’s farm system is ranked lower—and the Rockies having a poor crop of prospects will keep them behind the rest of the NL West for years to come.

Rockies general manager Bill Schmidt has been on the job since May of 2021. He comes from the team’s scouting department, similar to old boss Jeff Bridich. The farm system falling in the rankings at a time the big league team just had its worst season ever, makes it all the more questionable what Schmidt and by proxy, Dick Monfort are up to.

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ESPN ranks Rockies farm system as getting worse