In 2019, the MLB Amateur Draft was 40 rounds. In 2021, the draft will be 20 rounds. In the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, it was only five rounds, plus competitive balance selections. With the 2021 draft being held this coming Sunday in Denver, let’s check in on the six players the Colorado Rockies drafted last year as they play their first seasons of minor league ball:
Round 1, Pick 9: OF Zac Veen, Spruce Creek High School (Florida)
The left-handed-hitting and right-handed-throwing Zac Veen ended up being ranked No. 2 on the pre-season PuRPs list in his first season of eligibility, and it’s easy to see why. Veen was one of the top-ranked high school players of the 2020 draft, and the Rockies were thrilled to see him fall to the ninth overall pick where they selected him. Now the Rockies’ top organizational prospect—their only prospect in MLB’s Top 50—Veen started his season with the Low-A Fresno Grizzlies to begin his professional baseball career and is projected to hit the majors in 2024, per MLB.com.
In 51 games with the Grizzlies, Veen is slashing a respectable .262/.378/.419. His power numbers are lower than expected with just four home runs, but more power is expected to come as his six-foot four-inch frame continues to fill out. He has also been showing off his above-average speed and plate discipline for someone his age. Veen leads an already speedy Grizzlies roster with 25 stolen bases this season. Meanwhile, he’s walking at a rate of 14.1% through 234 plate appearances with 33 free passes, and striking out at a 25.2% rate with 59.
Competitive Balance A, Pick 35: C Drew Romo, The Woodlands High School (Texas)
A switch-hitting high school catcher from Texas, Drew Romo has the potential to be the most exciting Rockies catching prospect since Ben Petrick was drafted in 1995 with the 38th overall pick. Coming in at No. 8 on the PuRPs list in his first year, Romo is a defensively-excellent catcher with skillful hands, great blocking and receiving skills, and a 60-rated arm. The Rockies’ 10th-overall organizational prospect was considered one of the best high school catchers in the draft, and the only concern was the development of his bat after a poor senior year.
So far, the hitting concerns have not been a problem. In 39 games with the Low-A Fresno Grizzlies, Romo is slashing .297/.333/.465 with 10 doubles, two triples and four home runs, along with 23 RBIs. He’s also shown some baserunning prowess, not generally thought of from catchers, with seven stolen bases. Behind the plate, Romo has a fielding percentage of .993 with three errors, a caught-stealing rate of 42%, and has turned two double plays. Romo is projected to be with the big league team in 2024.
Round 2, Pick 46: RHP Chris McMahon, University of Miami
The first pitcher and first college player chosen by the Rockies in 2020, Chris McMahon ranked seventh on the PuRPs list this offseason. Originally a possible first-round pick, McMahon fell to the Rockies early in the second round. He’s got a 60-rated fastball with excellent command and velocity in the mid-90s. a 55-rated changeup, and a developing slider. McMahon was assigned to the High-A Spokane Indians to begin his professional career, and is expected to be major-league ready in 2023.
McMahon is expected to be one of the Rockies’ future rotation pitchers, and has now started 11 games with Spokane. In 55 total innings so far, his ERA is a bit high at 4.58 after ending his final year in Miami with a 1.05, but he has a solid WHIP at 1.40 and is striking out batters at a steady pace. With a K/9 of 8.7, McMahon has struck out 53 batters while walking only 16. He’s also been limiting the long ball with just six home runs allowed so far for an HR/9 of 1.00.
Round 3, Pick 81: LHP Sam Weatherly, Clemson University
Lefty Sam Weatherly (No. 17 PuRP) was the second pitcher drafted by the Rockies and has an expected ceiling for becoming a mid-rotation starter. Weatherly pitched both as a starter and out of the bullpen at Clemson, but was picked by the Rockies after a dominant (but shortened) junior season in college where he struck out a whopping 43 batters in four starts and 22 2⁄3 innings for a staggering 17.1 K/9. Weatherly has a low-to-mid 90’s fastball, but his real showstopper pitch is a devastating 60-rated slider he uses as his strikeout pitch. He also has a developing changeup.
Weatherly started his professional career with the Low-A Fresno Grizzlies in their rotation. He’s struggled a bit with command to the tune of 28 walks and nine hit batters, with an ERA of 4.91. Where he’s not struggling, however, is the strikeouts. In 11 starts and 47 2⁄3 innings pitched, Weatherly has struck out 68 batters for a K/9 of 12.8. Weatherly is the Rockies’ 16th overall organizational prospect and is expected to be ready for the big time in 2023.
Round 4, Pick 110: RHP Case Williams from Douglas County High School (Colorado)
In the fourth round of the 2020 draft, the Rockies selected a local pitcher from Castle Rock, Colorado in Case Williams. He is somewhat of a project prospect, as he has a low-to-mid 90s fastball he’s consistent with, but his breaking pitches—a promising curveball and a changeup—are still in need of development. He’s got the ceiling to be an MLB starter if his development proceeds as planned.
His future is not with the Rockies though. Williams was traded to the Cincinnati Reds during the offseason along with Jeff Hoffman for RHP Robert Stephenson and prospect outfielder Jameson Hannah (No. 19 PuRP). Williams is now the no. 21 ranked prospect within the Reds organization and was assigned to Low-A Daytona for the 2021 season. In nine starts and 33 innings, he has an ERA of 6.27 and is struggling with command. He has walked 28 batters and struck out 24.
Round 5, Pick 140: SS Jack Blomgren from The University of Michigan
The College World Series teammate of another Rockies prospect in pitcher Karl Kauffmann, Jack Blomgren is a defense-first middle infielder praised for his range, throwing, and defensive instincts and intelligence on the field. There are concerns for his ability to contribute with a bat in his hands with little apparent power in his swing.
Blomgren was assigned to the High-A Spokane Indians for the 2021 season, where he has been the majority starter at shortstop. He has a fielding percentage of .970 with four errors, but has turned 17 double plays. Offensively, he’s slashing just .183/.338/.266 with four doubles, one triple, a home run, and eight RBIs. His .338 OBP is helped with patience at the plate that has led to him drawing 20 walks on the season, which ties his hit total thus far.
★ ★ ★
According to manager Bud Black, the Rockies are “banging their heads” to try and figure out just what is going wrong with their historically bad 6-32 road record. The Rockies failed to put together strong rallies or tally that one big hit to push them over the top against the Diamondbacks, and took a 3-3 tie into the bottom of the ninth inning in Arizona. Closer Daniel Bard struggled immensely, walking two batters and giving up a single to load the bases. The night ended with Bard hitting David Peralta to score the winning run.
Nick Groke of the Athletic has good news and bad news for Rockies fans. The good news: lone All-Star representative Germán Márquez is off the table in all trade talks. The 26 year-old ace is an on incredibly team-friendly deal through 2024 and was named to the National League All-Star roster on Sunday.
The bad news? It appears everyone could be off the table. The Rockies’ front office has allegedly stated they are not willing to entertain offers on any players, including Trevor Story and Jon Gray, until after the All-Star Break and perhaps not at all. The trade deadline is on July 30th, and there is no indication that either Story or Gray will be signing an extension or new contract any time soon.
★ ★ ★
On the Farm:
The Isotopes took the lead early off a Connor Joe home run in the first inning, his sixth in 15 games. Unfortunately, the Chihuahuas would put together a four run second inning to roar into the lead. Joe would kick off a two run fourth inning for the Isotopes with a single and would be scored by a Sam Hilliard double, who in turn would be scored by a Nick Longhi single. The game would be suspended due to rain in the fifth inning with a standing score of 5-3.
*This game is incomplete and was suspended due to rain.
The Yard Goats would kick off the scoring in the second inning with a two run Manuel Melendez home run, but would not score another run until the ninth inning despite eight hits on the night. They were just 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position against Portland. Jameson Hannah continues to hit well, going 2-for-4 along with Melendez. Starting pitcher Ryan Feltner gave up three earned runs on seven hits while striking out five in his fourth start for Hartford since being promoted earlier this season.
Breiling Eusebio struggled in his first start for the Indians after being promoted from Fresno. He pitched just 1 2⁄3 innings and gave up seven earned runs on six hits and three walks. Spokane also went a frustrating 1-for-13 with RISP, scoring just three runs on eight hits while striking out 10 times against the Canadians’ pitching staff.
The red-hot Grizzlies continue to impress as the Rockies’ best performing farm team. Starting pitcher Andrew DiPiazza struck out seven through five total innings while allowing three earned runs. Top catching prospect Drew Romo was 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI while left fielder Daniel Montano was 3-for-4 with an RBI. The Grizzlies’ record improves to 35-20.
★ ★ ★
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