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Post-season honors for Rockies minor leaguers

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Thursday, October 28, 2021

The World Series is underway and the Minor League Baseball season has long since ended, with teams going their separate ways for the winter. However, the Colorado Rockies announced that MLB and MiLB had named several minor leaguers in the Rockies organization to special post-season honors. These honors include being named All-Stars by Major League Baseball, and earning special recognitions from Minor League Baseball.

Players from almost every level of the Rockies farm system were named All-Stars in an MLB announcement, with only the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats missing representation. Members from each of the farm system’s lower levels (ACL, DSL, Low and High-A) earned special recognitons from MiLB. I’m going to highlight a name or two from each level on this list, names that represent possible exciting futures with the Rockies.

Arizona Complex League (ACL Rockies): OF Yorvis Torrealba - ALL-STAR

If 24-year old outfielder Yorvis Torrealba has a familiar sounding name, it’s because he’s the oldest son of Rockies fan-favorite former catcher Yorvit Torrealba. The Rockies drafted the junior Torrealba in the 20th round of the 2019 draft out of the University of Tampa, but he struggled in his first season of professional baseball with the Short-A Boise Hawks. In 2019, Torrealba slashed just .227/.307/.284 in 211 at-bats, with ten doubles, a triple, and zero home runs.

Torrealba was assigned to the ACL Rockies in 2020, where he turned the dial up to 11 from the previous year. In 118 at-bats out in the desert, he slashed .356/.465/.500 with eight doubles, three home runs, and 26 RBIs. He was in the top five on the ACL Rockies in hits, doubles, RBIs, walks, batting average, and on base percentage. Thanks to his performance, Torrealbla might be making a big jump up in the farm system in 2022.

Dominican Republic Complex League (DSL Rockies): 2B Adrian Pinto - ALL-STAR

19-year old second baseman Adrian Pinto may be short in stature at just 5’8’’, but he drew plenty of attention to himself in 2021. By far one of the DSL Rockies’ most valuable youngsters, Pinto led the team in almost every offensive category: batting average, on base percentage, hits, doubles, triples, stolen bases, and walks. Pinto is lightning fast, as evidenced by his extra base numbers, but he also stole a tremendous 41 bases in the Dominican Republic this year. He’s also an incredibly patient young batter, drawing 38 walks in 224 plate appearances, while only striking out 18 times. Only one player on the team struck out less while having more than 100 plate appearances, and Pinto had about 100 more plate appearances than him.

Low-A Fresno Grizzlies: OF Zac Veen - SPECIAL RECOGNITION: TOP MLB PROSPECT; ALL-STAR

He’s the Rockies’ top overall prospect in both our PuRPs rankings and on MLB Pipeline for a reason. The ninth overall pick in the 2020 draft did nothing but impress during his first season of professional ball with the Rockies’ newest affiliate.

Much like his tools and scouting reports suggest, Veen was an excellent player across the board. Batting? He slashed .301/.399/.501 with 120 hits, 75 RBIs, and 64 walks to keep himself on base and drive in runs. Power? He led the Grizzlies with 15 home runs and 27 doubles. Speed? He legged out four triples while also stealing a team second-best 36 bases. Fielding? He had only five total errors spit across playing right and left field.

Veen was completely electric in his first professional season. He was either top ten or top five in almost every single offensive category in his Low-A West division: batting average, on base percentage, slugging, OPS, hits, doubles, home runs, RBIs, walks, and stolen bases. He’s one of three Rockies prospects in MLB’s top 100, and went rocketing all the way up to no. 50 after his incredible season. It’s hard not to be excited when your organization’s top prospect is only 19 years old and showing this amount of promise early on in his professional career.

High-A Spokane Indians: RHP Mitchell Kilkenny - SPECIAL RECOGNITION: PITCHER OF THE YEAR; ALL-STAR

Drafted as a competitive balance pick in the 2018 draft from Texas A&M, Mitchell Kilkenny had a solidly successful 2019 season with the Grand Junction Rockies before not pitching in 2020. The time off seems to have done him well, as he was fabulous in 2021, turning in an impressive campaign despite not being ranked in the Rockies’ top 30.

Kilkenny started his season with Low-A Fresno, where an ERA of 1.45 over 31 innings and six starts quickly earned him a promotion to High-A Spokane. With the Indians, Kilkenny’s ERA climbed to 3.95, which is still solid for a new level of play. He started 15 games for the Indians and pitched 82 total innings. He had the fourth most strikeouts on the Indians’ pitching staff with 71, and walked a scant 17 batters—the least of any rotation pitcher.

Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes: 1B Greg Bird - ALL-STAR

The 28-year old Grandview High School product is the oldest player on this list, and has a complicated career so far. A former top prospect for the Yankees, consistently terrible injury luck has kept him from much time in the majors. After returning home to compete for a first base job with the Rockies and try to get his career back on track, Bird ended up spending the entire season with the Isotopes.

Bird played an injury-free and complete season for the first time since 2015, and looked darn good doing it. Slashing .267/.362/.532, Bird led the Triple-A West in RBIs with 91, had the third most home runs at 27, had the third most walks at 58, and finished top ten in the division for slugging percentage and OPS. His future with the Rockies is unknown with him becoming a free agent this offseason, but it’s possible his strong season will earn him some big league looks from teams needing a first baseman.

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Could the next Colorado Rockies closer come from the Dodgers? | Rox Pile

The Rockies are in need of a closer, and Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen arm Corey Knebel is set to be a free agent. Rox Pile’s Kevin Henry discusses how Knebel could fit in Colorado’s plans for 2022. Knebel had a 2.45 ERA over 27 appearances with the Dodgers. In the past he has pitched very well against the Rockies at Coors Field, and is good at inducing ground ball contact. However, a pitcher like Knebel would carry a hefty price tag.

Vilade treasuring Fall League opportunity | MLB.com

After an excellent season with Triple-A Albuquerque, and making his major league debut in September, OF Ryan Vilade is in Arizona to polish his skills with the Arizona Fall League’s Salt River Rafters. He’s slashing .300/.382/.433 so far while playing corner out field and first base. Vilade tells MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo that his goal is to “continue to work hard and get better on the things I need to get better on to where I can be in the big leagues all year next year.”

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On the Farm: Arizona Fall League Edition

Salt River Rafters 3, Scottsdale Scorpions 2

Michael Toglia (1B), Ryan Vilade (LF), and Ezequiel Tovar (SS) all started for the Rafters in last night’s game. Vilade went 1-for-4, while Toglia was 0-for-3 with a walk. The offensive highlight of the game came from Ezequiel Tovar, who brought in all three of the Rafter’s runs with one stroke of the bat by hitting a three run home run in the second inning. Matt Dennis is credited with a hold after pitching three complete innings of relief, giving up five hits but no runs, and striking out three batters.

The Rafters will play the Surprise Saguaros in Surprise, AZ this afternoon. First pitch is at 1:35 PM MDT.

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