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Colorado Rockies prospects: No. 6, Michael Toglia

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Toglia has a rare skillset— a switch-hitting first baseman with power and plus defense

6. Michael Toglia (544 points, 22 ballots)

In short, Michael Toglia is a switch-hitter (lefty thrower) with power who should provide good defense at first base and could maybe be a corner outfielder if needed. The 21-year-old had a breakout junior year for UCLA, hitting .314/.392/.624 after a slow start to the season. Though he was ranked more in the pick 40-50 range by MLB.com and FanGraphs for the 2019 draft, the Rockies couldn’t pass up drafting Toglia 23rd overall in the first round after picking him but not signing him three years earlier as a high schooler.

Toglia signed in mid-June for a just under slot $2.7 million and was assigned to Short Season A Boise. Against pitchers who were on average about 0.8 years older in a pitcher-friendly Northwest League, Toglia produced a .248/.369/.483 line with 16 extra base hits (9 HR) in 176 PAs before getting shut down in early August. Defensively, Toglia spent his time at first base, committing two errors at the position.

Though he struck out 25.6% of the time (walking 15.9%), Toglia produced a 142 wRC+ at the level. All told, Toglia plate appearances yielded one of the Three True Outcomes 46.6% of the time. The 6’5”, 225 pound slugger was far less potent against lefties (.509 vs. .945 OPS against righties) albeit in a small sample. The swing and miss is something that prospect watchers will certainly be keeping an eye on as he moves up to higher levels, but the ability to take walks is a plus.

Here’s a video of Toglia during his time with UCLA courtesy of 2080 Baseball, including a look at both his left and right-handed swings:

Toglia ranks 4th on FanGraphs’ system ranking with a 45 Future Value tag:

Toglia had a poor Cape statline and then came out of the gate very slowly during his junior year. He was hitting .207 when PAC-12 play began and his draft stock had taken a plunge but for whatever reason, he started raking during conference play. By the end of the year, he was hitting .315 and had reached base in 29 straight games. Toglia has a rare combination of traits and skills. He’s a switch-hitting first baseman with power who is also a plus defender, which puts him in a small, 21st century team picture with Lance Berkman, Mark Teixeira, and Carlos Santana. That’s an intriguing group. We think teams hopped off of Toglia too quickly because of bad early-season looks and that he might be poised for a breakout 2020.

MLB.com ranked Toglia 8th among all first base prospects (and 5th in the system):

A 6-foot-5 athletic first baseman, Toglia is still growing into his frame and is still maturing as a player. He has tremendous raw power from both sides of the plate with the chance to eventually have plus pop in games. How much he’s able to do so will be contingent on how much he’ll hit. There are some swing-and-miss tendencies, and he did strike out in 26 percent of his plate appearances during his pro debut. He does offset that with a willingness to draw walks, and the Rockies believe he has enough feel to hit to perhaps be an average hitter in the future.

Toglia moves well enough to play the outfield, but is a plus defender at first base, with a strong arm, excellent range and great hands — the kind of first baseman who will save runs with his glove. He was young for his Draft class (20) and has more upside than the typical college bat, with the ceiling of an everyday run producer in the big leagues.

Toglia was 6th in the Baseball Prospectus org ranking with a 50 OFP. Here’s Jeffrey Paternostro on Toglia:

A switch-hitting power threat from both sides of the plate, Toglia’s big junior season for UCLA stamped him as a first-round pick despite the defensive limitations in the profile. He’s played a fair bit of corner outfield and has plenty of arm for right field, but has primarily played first base as a pro so far. That’s going to put a lot of pressure on his bat, but there’s plus bat speed and plenty of raw pop to carry the weight of the cold corner. Toglia is tall with long levers in his swing, so there may be swing-and-miss in the zone, but he knows what to swing at and profiles as an everyday Three-True-Outcomes corner bat with potential 30+ bombs in the majors.

The athleticism to play the outfield and switch-hitting prowess separate Toglia from the other similar first base prospects in the system. He’s still a risky prospect given the increased stress on the bat to succeed, but he’s also got a ceiling that’s a cut above the others in that group due to his ability to translate raw power into game power. I ranked Toglia 7th on my personal PuRPs ballot with a FV 45 grade as an offense-first player with tremendous, middle of the order potential, though I worry about whether he’ll be able to handle advanced pitching and maintain his high walk rates.

The offensive profile is certainly an enticing one, and we’ll see if the Rockies end up trying Toglia in an outside corner as he moves up the minor league ladder due to the presence of plenty of first base mashers in the system. As I pondered in Grant Lavigne’s write-up, it will be interesting to see whether Lavigne or Toglia is placed in High A to start 2020.