The body of work from Rockies pitching in the Arizona Fall League has been exceptional.
Equally noteworthy: you won’t catch any of them on the Rockies’ list of top 30 prospects.
Jake Bird, Matt Dennis, Reagan Todd and Jordan Sheffield have combined to throw 17 1⁄3 innings this fall. With the exception of Sheffield, a now-big league transplant from the Dodgers, every Rockies pitcher in the Fall League have been labeled under-the-radar. They are now being sorted out throughout the graduate level ranks of Fall League action.
Sheffield has only thrown one inning in the Fall League, leaving the other 16 1⁄3 innings to Bird, Dennis and Todd. Their performance is suggesting the Rockies’ pitching reserve could be deceiving, and a few arms are ready to rise to the occasion should the opportunity present itself.
16 1⁄3 innings is extremely limited—but it’s all we have this fall. If the only thing to find is optimism, how bad is that?
AFL Week 3: Rockies Pitching
- Jake Bird: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K
- Matt Dennis: 3 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K
- Reagan Todd: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K
- Jordan Sheffield: DNP
Combined: 5 IP, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K
The Rafters’ team batting average is .246 (the worst in the Fall League), but a league-leading ERA (4.56) has kept them in many games. 14.2% of the Rafters’ innings this year have been thrown by Rockies pitching; the team’s ERA would jump from a 4.56 to a 4.97 without it.
*Also of note: Salt River Fields is the only AFL ballpark where the automated strike zone is being operated. As the kinks are being sorted out, it is largely the Rafters arms that are subject to the new system.
AFL Week 3: Rockies Hitting
- Michael Toglia: .267/.353/.533, 4-for-15, 2B, HR, 2 BB, 4 K
- Ezequiel Tovar: .143/.133/.357, 2-for-14, HR, 0 BB, 3 K
- Ryan Vilade: .167/.375/.167, 1-for-6, 1 BB, 2 K
- Willie MacIver: 1-for-8 (single), 0 BB, 4 K (*Taxi squad player)
Colorado bats were below the Mendoza line in the third week of AFL action (.186). Performance was limited: Ryan Vilade had made 30 at-bats prior to this week and only posted six in Week 3, while Willie MacIver has only posted 13 at-bats over the full season.
We did see some firepower, at least:
The Rockies' Michael Toglia is relatively new to pro ball, but he's already shown a penchant for coming up big in elite showcases.— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) October 30, 2021
He did it again Friday: https://t.co/42ELqd4xhh pic.twitter.com/h0c9TPQGeo
Michael Toglia had 22 homers in the 2021 minor league slate, while Ezequiel Tovar posted 15 of his own. Toglia has three longballs in the AFL this year, while Tovar’s lone dinger came on Wednesday night at Salt River Fields.
Salt River Rafters notes
- The Mesa Solar Sox (7-8) currently lead the Fall League’s East division by a half-game over the Rafters (6-8), while the West division’s Surprise Saguaros (12-3) have ran away with the league’s best record.
- Salt River is one of two teams in the AFL with a positive run differential (+2; Surprise, +34)
- The squad had a little bit of fun on Saturday night:
The full Halloween action from the Rafters: pic.twitter.com/xyVEHkNd5V— MLB's Arizona Fall League (@MLBazFallLeague) October 31, 2021
(Ryan Vilade is the one in the Garfield suit.)
- AFL Fall Stars Game: Saturday, November 13 on MLB Network