Welcome to the 2021 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2021. The purpose of this list is to provide a snapshot of the player in context. The “Ranking” is an organizing principle that’s drawn from Baseball Reference’s WAR (rWAR). It’s not something the staff debated. We’ll begin with the player with the lowest rWAR and end up with the player with the highest.
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No. 32, Ryan Vilade: -0.1 rWAR
The 22-year old outfielder from Stillwater High School in Stillwater, Oklahoma (shades of Matt Holliday, anyone?) made the huge jump from playing in High-A Lancaster in 2019 to playing in Triple-A Albuquerque in 2021 and didn’t disappoint.
The youngest player on the Isotopes, Vilade put up stellar numbers despite making such a huge move. He slashed .284/.339/.410 in 117 games and 468 at-bats — the highest average, fifth-best OBP, and twelfth-best SLG among Albuquerque batters with over one hundred plate appearances. Vilade led the team in hits (133), had the second-most doubles (28), and third-most triples on the team in 2021, as well as the fourth-most RBI at 44.
The Rockies organization also completed Ryan Vilade’s transition from a middle infielder to a corner outfielder. Vilade was drafted as a shortstop in 2017, but the Rockies began experimenting with his role in 2019, where he played a significant amount of time at third base. During the 2020 season, the Rockies experimented with him moving to the outfield, where he played the entirety of the 2021 season save for five games at first base.
The Rockies’ no. 5 prospect per MLB pipeline and our no. 10 midseason PuRPs prospect was called up for his first big league reps on September 18th, 2021 and started in left field against the Washington Nationals. He had five plate appearances and drew a walk on an 0-for-4 MLB debut. He started in left again on September 21st against the Los Angeles Dodgers, going 0-for-2 with a strikeout. Vilade made his final appearance in the majors in 2021 as a pinch runner on September 23rd against the Dodgers, and had no plate appearances.
The Rockies optioned Vilade back to Triple-A Albuquerque after a truly minuscule cup of coffee, where he amassed just six total at-bats across three games and failed to notch his first major league hit. While this earns him an rWAR of -0.1 for the season, the sample size is truly so small that it’s impossible to draw any conclusions on his major league future. Vilade remains one of the Rockies’ top prospects and will be playing with the Salt River Rafters during the Arizona Fall League to put some final polish on his skills before seeking to earn a roster spot during spring training in 2022. With the Rockies’ futures in the outfield and at shortstop unclear, there will likely be space for the Vilade to get more playing time.