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Colorado Rockies prospect rankings, mid-season 2021: numbers 5 to 1

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Three familiar faces and two brand new ones round out this year’s addition of Purple Row’s top prospects list

It’s the top five of the mid-season 2021 Purple Row Prospects (PuRPs) list! Previously we had PuRPs 30-26, 25-21, 20-16, 15-11, and 10-6. As a reminder, in this edition of the PuRPs poll, 23 ballots were cast, with 30 points granted for a first place vote, 29 for second, etc.

For each player on the PuRPs list, I’ll include a link to individual stats and contract status (via Baseball-Reference), PuRPs voting stats, a note on the 2021 season to date, and a scouting report from a national prospect writer where possible. For what it’s worth, I’ll also include where I put each player on my personal ballot. All ages are as of the date the article is posted.

5. Elehuris Montero (564 points, 23 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: NR — High Ballot 2, Mode Ballot 7

How did he enter the organization?

2021 Trade, STL

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Montero was either the most or second most prominent player coming back from St. Louis in the Nolan Arenado trade, depending on how you felt about Austin Gomber at the time. The 23-year-old (as of Tuesday) righty-hitting corner infielder signed with the Cardinals for $300k out of the Dominican Republic back in 2014. Over the next five years he made enough of an impression to be added to the Cardinals 40-man roster after the 2019 season despite breaking his hamate bone, an injury that sapped his power and led to a subpar campaign.

The 6’3”, 235-pound bruiser played in the Arizona Fall League at the end of 2019 and worked at St. Louis’ alternate site in 2020. After the trade to the Rockies, Montero was assigned to repeat the Double-A level, this time of course with Hartford. Despite the prior injury and layoff from professional game reps, Montero has responded really well to the Double-A assignment this season against pitchers who are on average 1.9 years older.

In 351 PAs with Hartford this year, Montero has been healthy (until going on the IL earlier this week) and productive. His .274/.362/.535 includes 22 home runs and 33 extra-base hits overall, good for a 138 wRC+. That batting line was really paced by a thermonuclear July, in which Montero hit .416/.467/.831 with 12 homers. Moreover, Montero has roughly doubled his 2019 walk rate (from 5.9 to 11.7%) while cutting his strikeout rate (from 31.1 to 24.5%) — a major improvement given that his impatient offensive approach was a major knock on him entering the season. Montero has hit well against right-handers (.870 OPS) but has really crushed lefties (1.027 OPS). He’s split time between first and third base roughly equally, though he’s made 10 errors at third so far against three at first.

Here’s some tape of Montero from the 2019 Arizona Fall League courtesy of Fangraphs:

What do the scouts say?

Montero is currently 4th in the system on MLB.com’s ranking:

Montero has the combination of bat speed, strength and the ability to make hard contact that point to a future as a Major League hitter, with outstanding raw power from the right side. He needs to work on his approach at the plate, as his aggressive style led to a lot of swing and miss in Double-A in 2019. If he can cut down on the strikeouts with more time facing advanced pitching, he has plenty of leverage in his 6-foot-3 frame to hit for a lot of power in the future.

The infielder’s plus arm works just fine from the hot corner, but the jury is out about whether he can stay there long-term, with concerns he lacks the range and footwork to play third at the big league level. That could mean a move to first, but he does have the power/run-producer ceiling to profile at that infield corner as well.

Fangraphs put Montero 16th on their Rockies org look back in March as a 40 FV player:

Multiple wrist injuries made it impossible for Montero’s 2019 to get off the ground, so toss out his lousy 60-game Double-A statline. His body looked great in the Fall League that year, and he still has a shot to stay at third base long-term because he’s kept what used to be a big, softer body in check.

His approach, however, is a problem. During some of his Fall League starts, Montero saw five pitches over the course of an entire game. During the regular season, he averaged just shy of 2.5 pitches per plate appearance. For comparison’s sake, among big league hitters with at least 200 PAs in 2019, Willians Astudillo ranked last in pitchers per PA with 2.9; no other big leaguer was under three. From a hitting talent perspective — the bat speed, primarily — Montero has everyday upside, so he belongs ranked ahead of prospects who project to be lesser role players at best. But I’m weary of how swing-happy he is and think that at the very least, there will be growing pains as he climbs the minors and is forced to adjust to big league pitching.

Keith Law of the Athletic put Montero 10th in the system after previously ranking him in the overall top 100:

[Montero] was a top-100 prospect going into 2019, but the Cardinals jumped him over High A — a rare player-development misstep for the club — and he broke a hamate bone that April, leading to a disastrous season between injuries and non-performance. He can hit, and has at least 55 power, with 37 doubles as a 19-year-old in Low A back in 2018, although he’s going to require work to be able to stay at third base — and that’s before we consider Aaron Schunk’s presence ahead of him. He could be a 40 doubles/20 homers guy at first, with a high average but just fringy OBP, if the loss of hand strength was the driving factor behind his bad 2019, but we won’t really know until he gets to play again.

Kiley McDaniel of ESPN.com slotted Montero 11th in the system as a 40 FV player before the season:

Montero is a power-over-hit third baseman who needs to stay on top of his fitness and lateral mobility to stick at third base. He’s also more a free swinger than you’d like to see if you’re expecting him to get to all of his raw power in games, but his above-average bat control makes up for some of it.

When’s he going to get to the Rockies and how good will he be once he’s there?

There’s no denying Montero has showed well this season with a lot of scrutiny upon him. He’ll never be Nolan Arenado, but Montero is hitting like he could mash at the big league level as a regular. I ranked Montero 10th on my list as a 45 FV player because I believe in the bat’s potential but don’t know what his big league role will be.

Montero finds himself in that corner infield playing time logjam I’ve covered before and will only have one minor league option left in 2022 to show he deserves that playing time over both prospects and veterans with big league service time. If the DH is adopted as expected for next year, that will help, but there’s still a lot of competition. Nonetheless, Montero has put himself in a good place with his performance this year to be a factor in next year’s spring training.

★ ★ ★

4. Michael Toglia (588 points, 23 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 4 — High Ballot 2, Mode Ballot 4

How did he enter the organization?

2019 1st Round, UCLA

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Toglia is a switch-hitter (lefty thrower) with power who should provide plus defense at first base and could maybe be a corner outfielder if needed, though the Rockies have yet to test out that utility in game action. The 6’5”, 226-pound slugger was picked 23rd overall by the Rockies in 2019 and signed for an under slot $2.7 million bonus after they’d picked but not signed him three years earlier as a high schooler.

The 23-year-old (as of Monday — he’s a day older than Montero) produced well in Short Season A in 2019 and was brought by the Rockies to the alternate site and fall instructs in 2020. In their Rockies alternate site write-up, MLB.com had this to say about Toglia:

A switch-hitter, Toglia made some small adjustments to his right-handed swing in particular and it showed up in games, with three homers over the last couple of weeks in simulated games, all from the right side.

The Rockies jumped Toglia straight to High-A to begin 2021, where he was 0.9 years younger than average. In 330 PAs with Spokane, Toglia led the league with 17 HR among his 29 XBH and stole 7 out of 10 bases en route to a .234/.333/.465 batting line (111 wRC+). Toglia was less potent against lefties (.746 OPS vs. .810 against righthanders), but both numbers are acceptable. Toglia’s 12.7% BB rate and 27.6% K rate meant that over 45% of his PAs led to one of the Three True Outcomes.

Toglia was selected for the Futures Game, where he launched a two-run HR 444 feet to left-center field at Coors while batting right-handed as part of a 1-for-3 day. Then a few weeks later in early August he got promoted to Double-A Hartford, where he’s 1.9 years younger than league average. In 56 PAs with Hartford, Toglia has a walk and strikeout-heavy (18% BB, 25% K) .200/.357/.356 line with one HR (99 wRC+).

Here’s a video of Toglia during his time with UCLA in 2019 courtesy of Fangraphs, including a look at both his left and right-handed swings:

What do the scouts say?

Baseball Prospectus has checked in on Toglia twice this season, once in late June and once in early August. Here’s Kevin Johnson from the June look:

In my recent live looks at the switch-hitter, [Toglia has] presented a similar approach from both sides of the plate: A relaxed upright, exaggerated open stance with hands held just below the shoulders and a short load. He has a lively upper body, which at times has disrupted his timing against sharp breaking balls and plus velocity. Considering 82 percent of his plate appearances have come from the left side, he’s demonstrated a slightly more advanced approach for tracking pitches and using the entire field from his left side while his right-side has yielded below average bat-to-ball skills on average-or-better velocity up and away, contributing to an overall 27 percent strikeout rate and a subpar .234 batting average. His bat has been slowly ticking in the right direction though, hitting .307 for the month of June compared to .157 in May to begin the season. This trend is a positive sign that proper adjustments are being made at the plate as he tallies more at-bats.

Defensively, the tall lefty offers a big target, good athleticism, soft hands with a plus ability to pick-it. His athleticism and average arm strength could also serve well in a corner outfield position.

Ultimately, there is plus potential on both sides of the field, however, if his raw power is going to materialize into a productive in-game bat, his bat-to-ball consistency will require continued improvement as he progresses through the more advanced levels.

Baseball America ranked Toglia 4th in their preseason system look:

Despite his hulking 6-foot-5, 226-pound frame, the switch-hitting Toglia is more of a contact hitter than a slugger. He takes a patient approach and drives the ball hard on a line from the left side of the plate. He’s much less dangerous righthanded, but he’s worked hard on his load and trigger to get into a better hitting position from that side. Toglia is streaky and flashes plus power from the left side when he’s hot. The Rockies believe adjustments to his timing can make him an average hitter with plus power in time. Toglia is a plus defender at first base with smooth actions, sound instincts, and good footwork around the bag. The Rockies are working him in the outfield to enhance his versatility.

Toglia was slotted 4th in the org by Fangraphs back in March as a 45 FV player:

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 fraternity with Lance Berkman, Mark Teixeira, and Carlos Santana. That’s an intriguing group. He has mistake power from both sides of the plate but also some limitations. As a right-handed hitter, Toglia is adept at punishing pitches at the top of the strike zone, working gap to gap depending on whether the pitch is on the inner or outer half. As a lefty, he has a low-ball, bottom-hand-dominant swing, and he’ll hit some pretty-looking golf shots out to his pull side, or scoop some balls to the oppo gap. If lefty pitchers can execute back-foot breakers against him, they’re going to get him out. He’s vulnerable to letter-high velocity from the left side. I think there will be enough offensive ability for Toglia to be a low-end everyday first baseman held back from the 50 FV tier because I don’t think his plate coverage is air-tight. And of course, his numbers will likely be inflated by Coors Field.

MLB.com’s preseason look placed Toglia 3rd in the system:

A switch-hitter, Toglia’s power from both sides of the plate stands out. The 6-foot-5 first baseman can drive the ball to all fields with tremendous raw pop. The question has always been his ability to make enough contact to tap into that power in games consistently because even though he draws walks, he does swing and miss quite a bit. He did make some small adjustments, particularly to his right-handed swing, at the Rockies’ alternate training site last summer, with positive results in terms of in-game power production.

Very athletic, especially for his size, Toglia could play an outfield corner, something he did at times in college and on the Cape, but he’s a very good defender at first with an above-average arm and excellent hands. If he can continue to make adjustments at the plate, he should fit the profile of a power-hitting, run-producing first baseman in the big leagues quite well.

When’s he going to get to the Rockies and how good will he be once he’s there?

The athleticism to play the outfield and switch-hitting prowess separate Toglia from the other similar first base prospects in the system, though the Rockies haven’t tested out the outfield flexibility yet. Toglia’s high walk, high strikeout, high power, low average approach has worked for him so far in the minor leagues, but there’s certainly risk that approach won’t be tenable in the big leagues — and it’s a real risk given the pressure on the bat to carry the profile.

I ranked Toglia sixth on my PuRPs ballot with a 45 FV grade as an offense-first player who has been successful at translating his raw power into game power, though my enthusiasm is tempered by the swing and miss in his game and lower defensive utility. Toglia will have another year before the Rockies need to add him to the 40 man roster, but he might just force his way onto it next year if he shows well in spring training.

★ ★ ★

3. Benny Montgomery (613 points, 22 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: NR — High Ballot 2, Mode Ballot 2

How did he enter the organization?

2021 1st Round, Red Land HS (PA)

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Montgomery’s status as the eighth overall pick in the 2021 draft was always going to get him prospect attention. Reading scouting evaluations that give Montgomery three plus tools (run, arm, field) with above average power keeps that attention. The 6’4”, 200-pound Pennsylvania prep gives scouts pause with a big hitch in his swing that the Rockies will try to clean up, but the power potential is there along with excellent athleticism.

The 19-year-old righty hitting outfielder was thought of as a player likely to go in the 10-20 range, but the Rockies liked the tools that give Montgomery one of the highest ceilings of any 2021 draftee enough to pick him at eight and give him a slightly under-slot $5 million bonus. Montgomery was assigned recently to the Arizona Complex League team, where in 15 PAs he’s 4-for-15 with two strikeouts and four singles.

Here’s some video of Montgomery from the 2020 Area Code games courtesy of 2080 Baseball:

What do the scouts say?

Montgomery was ranked 15th among 2021 draft prospects by MLB.com as a 55 FV player:

Montgomery does a lot of things really well on the baseball field. All summer long, he showed off his close to top-of-the-scale speed (some scouts have 80 run times for him) and his tremendous raw power that helped him win the Perfect Game All-American Classic Home Run Derby. The main concern with the Virginia recruit had been with his ability to get to that power, with a bit of a rigid swing and flat bat path.

Though he lacks fluidity in his swing, the 6-foot-4 right-handed hitter did a very good job of making contact against good competition on the summer showcase circuit. A premium, fast-twitch athlete, Montgomery is a plus defender with an outstanding work ethic.

That evaluation is headlined by a 70 speed grade but Montgomery also gets 60 grades on his arm and fielding ability as well as a 55 for power.

Fangraphs also ranked Montgomery 15th in his draft class and have slotted him in 3rd in the org as a 45 FV player:

Montgomery is similar to Orioles 2020 overslot draftee Coby Mayo, in that he’s a big-framed young guy who runs well underway and has a rare combination of bat speed and hand-eye coordination dressed in an ugly swing. His long speed gives him a chance to stay up the middle. He bears a resemblance to Bubba Starling with the present swing and there are teams who worry he won’t hit. Montgomery is also going to be nearly 19 on draft day, which is going to cause model-driven teams to slide him down their boards. He’s a high-variance high school outfielder, the kind that typically comes off the board in the middle of the first round.

Like Zac Veen, Montgomery gets a ++ rating on his frame and a + on his athleticism.

Keith Law had ranked Montgomery lower than the others at 28th in his pre-draft rankings and had this to say after the pick:

Benny Montgomery (1) just looks like a Rockies pick — a toolsy, athletic, lanky, tall high school outfielder who has some questions around his hit tool. In Montgomery’s case, it’s because he has a substantial hitch in his swing that he’ll have to reduce unless he finds some other way to compensate for it. He has power and speed, and a great outfielder’s frame. He’s a bit like their 2020 first-rounder Zac Veen, who is off to a strong start in pro ball, although Veen bats lefty and didn’t have this hitch.

Kiley McDaniel at ESPN.com ranked Montgomery 10th pre-draft, describing him as “a big, tooled-up talent with All-Star upside, but also a funky swing with some elements like Hunter Pence.”

Keanan Lamb of Baseball Prospectus put Montgomery 12th on his pre-draft prospect list:

Montgomery is athletically gifted yet still raw and growing into his body. He succeeds despite a hitch in his swing that can be cleaned up, with many scouts believing he has some of the most untapped potential of anyone in the draft.

When’s he going to get to the Rockies and how good will he be once he’s there?

Montgomery is a long way away (4-6 years), but he possesses a star-level ceiling who might stick in center field. While he might need to tinker a bit with his swing if professional pitching gives him fits, taking risks on this type of player is exactly what I want the Rockies to do. I ranked Montgomery second on my ballot as a 50 FV player, acknowledging both his star potential and the risk inherent in the long road from the ACL to MLB.

Montgomery was compared to 2020 Rockies first rounder Zac Veen even before the draft and those comparisons will be inevitable from now on as high school outfielders with excellent athleticism and plus power potential. Veen was more advanced offensively than Montgomery at the same stage, but Montgomery was a better defender and can probably stay in center field. The biggest difference between the two though is that Veen has now shown he can be successful as a professional — let’s hope Montgomery can match him there.

★ ★ ★

2. Ryan Rolison (646 points, 23 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 1 — High Ballot 1 (1), Mode Ballot 3

How did he enter the organization?

2018 1st Round, University of Mississippi

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Rolison is only one of three pitching prospects in the top 10 and represents a mid-rotation pitcher who is nearly big league ready. The 6’2” 23-year-old lefty was Colorado’s first round pick in 2018 (22nd overall), signing for a slot bonus of $2.9 million, and was tabbed as a polished pitcher and likely fast riser with a plus curveball.

A likely 2020 assignment was derailed by the pandemic, but Rolison did spend time at the alternate site and fall instructs. Former Rockies AGM Zach Wilson had this to say about Rolison last November:

“What he’s continued to work on is his arm-side fastball command and then really being ultra-consistent with his curveball, Wilson said. “He’s got tremendous command of it. And then continuing to work in a change, which has really turned into a solid third pitch for him. I don’t even know if I could call it a third pitch anymore. It’s a pitch that really is working well for him right now. He’s able to play it off his fastball very well, particularly when he stays aggressive with it.

“So he took steps in the right direction toward a Major League career here at some point over the next year-ish. When that happens, I don’t know, but he’s got himself closer to that over the last year.”

In 2021, Rolison was assigned to Double-A but only made three starts there with strong results (14 23 IP, 3.07 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 12.3 K/9, 1.2 BB/9), which was enough for the Rockies to jump him up to Triple-A in mid-May. Rolison made three short starts with Albuquerque against competition that was 4.5 years older in a meat grinder of an environment for pitchers. He emerged mostly unscathed in 12 13 IP, posting a 4.38 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 10.9 K/9, and 2.2 BB/9.

Unfortunately, Rolison needed emergency surgery to remove his appendix in early June, which has kept him on the shelf until recently. Rolison has made two brief starts with the ACL team as he rehabs his way back toward Triple-A and a potential big league debut either late this year or next season after he is (inevitably) added to the 40-man roster.

Here’s some video of Rolison’s appearance at the 2019 Cal League All-Star game, including some good slow motion looks at his repertoire at the end of the video:

What do the scouts say?

MLB.com has Rolison ranked 3rd in in the system:

Rolison’s ticket to a big league rotation lies in his ability to use his entire repertoire and to fill up the strike zone with all four offerings. He entered pro ball being able to command his low-90s fastball extremely well to the glove side and the lefty continued to work on, and improve, his arm-side command of the pitch in 2020. He also focused on his changeup at the alternate site and during instructs and it could eventually be a plus pitch in the future. The left-hander features two distinctly shaped breaking balls, a 78-80 mph curve with 12-to-6 bite to it, and a tighter slider, though it’s really one pitch that he manipulates really well.

More than anything, Rolison needs to continue to trust his stuff and be aggressive with it. When he tries to guide his fastball to the arm side, he gets into trouble, but he’s always around the zone and sets up hitters well. The work he was able to get in during 2020 should help keep Rolison on a faster track towards reaching his ceiling as a mid-rotation starter.

A 60 curveball is the headliner, accompanied by 55 grades on the fastball and control with 50s on the change and slider — clear markers of a pitcher with the arsenal to make it in a big league rotation.

Fangraphs soured big time on Rolison after their looks at him in instructs after ranking him #111 overall in their pre-2020 ranking. In fact, Rolison slid all the way to 12th in the Rockies org as a 40+ FV player in the Fangraphs March evaluation:

College lefties up to 96 who have good feel for spinning a breaking ball are typically in the first round mix, and this was the case with Rolison, who sometimes struggled with holding his stuff and command deep into games at Ole Miss. He seemed to be moving past that in 2019, his first full pro season, when his walk rate was lower than it ever was in college and he showed more varied and sentient fastball usage. But Rolison’s alt site and instructs looks were more like during college. His fastball command was pretty loose (typically later in outings) and his below-average changeup missed in the zone an awful lot, forcing Rolison to lean on his curveball a ton (it’s his best first-strike pitch and most consistent putaway pitch). Heuristically, I want to bet on a lefty with such a good breaking ball, but if Rolison can’t command his fastball then hitters will just sit on that curveball, which opposing college lineups seemed to be doing in his worst D-I outings. Scouts came away from instructs thinking he had a lot of relief risk and Rolison’s heater has been in the 90-92 range this spring. The chance for a rebound, and that Rolison might experience a velo bump if he were put in the bullpen, means he should still be in an impact FV tier, but he’s trending more and more like a fifth starter.

Baseball Prospectus has Rolison 2nd in their pre-2021 org ranking. Here’s Steve Givarz on the lefty:

Given the Rockies’ early competitiveness in the truncated season, there were whispers of bringing up Rolison for the stretch run. They were operating without a left-handed reliever in the bullpen for the majority of the year, not that James Pazos or Phillip Diehl inspired much confidence in the first place. Colorado ultimately didn’t make the call, but it wasn’t for a lack of success and stuff as Rolison showed an improved fastball and a sharper slider than before. The two-pitch mix ran through his teammates at the alternate site while Rolison showed improved strike-throwing ability.

The Rockies are committed to developing Rolison as a starter, hence why they did not want him to work out of a bullpen without a clear spot for a starting pitcher.

Keith Law was the high man on Rolison entering 2021, ranking him #82 overall and 2nd among Rockies prospects:

Rolison pitches at 92-94 with a plus curveball that is an out pitch against left-handed batters and good enough to help get right-handers as well, and he’s refined his changeup since we last saw him in games. He also throws a slider that’s more of a fourth pitch but gives him a second option against lefties. The Rockies have done a great job cleaning up Rolison’s delivery, taking him from a cross-fire arm action when they drafted him to getting him on line to the plate so he can pitch to his glove side and improve his chances to stay healthy. He’s a solid fourth starter now but could be an above-average one if he develops that changeup to an above-average pitch.

When’s he going to get to the Rockies and how good will he be once he’s there?

Rolison combines a plus curve, an above average low-mid 90s fastball, and one or two additional secondaries that rate above average (depending on the evaluation). He combines that with good command of that arsenal and his left-handedness instantly raises the profile’s ceiling. It’s a useful if not necessarily exciting profile, and I ranked Rolison third on my PuRPs ballot with a 45+ FV grade as a prospect likely to be an above average contributor at the big league level within the next two years (health willing).

★ ★ ★

1. Zac Veen (686 points, 23 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 2 — High Ballot 1 (21), Mode Ballot 1

How did he enter the organization?

2020 1st Round, Spruce Creek HS (FL)

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

There’s Veen and there’s everyone else. Colorado’s 2020 first rounder was the ninth overall pick and was widely thought of as the top high school player in the draft. As you’ll see in the scouting reports below, scouts were particularly excited about Veen’s projectable frame and advanced hitting approach. The lefty-hitting, righty-throwing 6’4” Floridian outfielder signed for a slightly above slot value $5 million and immediately got top 100 hype. Indeed, Veen is really the only Rockies prospect consistently on top 100 lists and was never ranked anywhere but number one in the system when I looked elsewhere at national evaluators.

Despite the scouting hype, there was still uncertainty around Veen entering the year with respect to his ability to handle professional pitching. Hopefully Veen’s 2021 season has removed that uncertainty. Veen is one of the younger players in Low-A this year — at 19, he is two years younger than league average — but that hasn’t stopped him from excelling. In 385 PA with Fresno, Veen has a .299/.395/.517 line with 14 HR among his 39 XBH and 30 steals (3rd in the league) in 45 attempts (tied with Eddy Diaz for the league lead). That’s good for a 136 wRC+ — considering the context, it’s a stellar debut for Veen.

Furthermore, Veen has just kept getting better and better. He began with a pedestrian (but still decent) .704 OPS May, then a strong .864 OPS June before erupting into a .992 OPS July (including 9 HR) and a white-hot 1.124 OPS August. Veen is getting to that line with a TTO approach (13% BB, 25% K, 4% HR) that shows he is patient enough to wait for a pitch he can do damage against. He’s hitting right-handers better (.924 OPS) but his left on left splits are still decent (.847 OPS). Defensively, Veen has split time between the outfield corners, with a clear majority of his time coming in right field.

Here’s some video of Veen from a national showcase game in 2019 courtesy of Baseball America that shows off his power, swing, and outfield arm:

What do the scouts say?

Veen’s hot professional debut has him popping on national top prospect lists. Most notably, he is ranked 16th overall by Keith Law of the Athletic:

The Rockies’ first-round pick in 2020 has had a tremendous pro debut so far as a 19-year-old in Low A, hitting .283/.399/.487 for Fresno with 27 steals in 62 games, even showing no platoon split so far despite being a left-handed hitter. The Rockies moved Veen to right field, which was his most likely long-term position anyway. He has a great swing, a better feel for the strike zone than I thought, and should end up with 65 or 70 raw power and above-average speed. Colorado hasn’t developed a position player like him since Story and Arenado.

Baseball Prospectus has two mid-season takes on Veen (who was 49th overall in their preseason top 101), including a tool grid-based eyewitness account from Trevor Andresen that gave Veen a 55 OFP and a 60 power grade as well as a check-in from Brandon Williams, both based on looks they had of Veen over the last few weeks. Here’s Williams on Veen:

The mulletted and mustachioed 19-year-old outfielder strummed a .235 BA and zero home runs through his first 38 games this season, but in the subsequent 40 contests Veen has hit to the tune of .348 with 13 round-trippers. Listed at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, Veen utilizes his lean physique and long-limbs to create leverage and surprising power to all fields. Once in motion, the left-handed batter causes havoc by aggressively stretching for extra bases or attempting to steal them, where he’s succeeded on 30 of 43 attempts. His .398 OBP and 46 walks are a product of his keen zone awareness and patient pitch selection, making him a difficult out for any pitcher.

Defensively, Veen’s long-strides and above-average pace allow him to cover ample ground from the corner outfield positions, which will be beneficial in Colorado’s expansive outfield. Veen plays with an entertainingly frenetic energy and physicality that endear him to teammates and fans alike. While there is room for further refinement of both his offensive and defensive tools, Veen’s aptitude and passion for the game should expedite his development into an integral part of the Rockies organization.

MLB.com ranks Veen 55th overall, tops in the system:

Long and lean, Veen has already shown off plus hitting ability and plus raw power, with much more to come as he fills out his projectable 6-foot-4 frame. The left-handed hitter has a pretty swing with plus bat speed and can create leverage and loft when he stands more upright, drawing some Cody Bellinger comps along the way.

A good athlete who is a solid average runner, Veen has played center field in the past and the Rockies certainly could let him play up the middle until he shows he can’t. He has the arm, and the future offensive profile, to look very good in right field should he slow down enough to necessitate the move.

The above evaluation give Veen a 60 (plus) hit tool with 55s everywhere else except a 50 run grade.

Baseball America ranked Veen behind only Brendan Rodgers in their preseason look:

Veen is a fantastic athlete with an exceptional batting eye and a natural feel to hit. He possesses leverage in his swing and plus power to the pull side, and there is confidence power to all fields will come. Veen is 6-foot-5, 200 pounds, but the Rockies think the lefthanded hitter can add another 15-20 pounds to an already-sturdy frame. Opinions on Veen’s long-term hitting potential vary, but most see at least an average hitter with the potential for 30 home runs. Veen has the athleticism and average speed to play center field now, but as he grows he may be a better fit in right field, where his above-average arm would fit nicely.

In their pre-draft rankings, Fangraphs ranked Veen 5th overall and slotted him 80th overall in their 2021 updated prospect rankings. He’s also the top prospect in the system with a 50 FV grade:

Of the 2020 Draft’s high schoolers, Veen has the most obvious long-term power projection because of his huge, well-composed frame. His in-the-box actions are quiet and smooth up until the moment he decides to unleash hell on the baseball. He can clear his hips and crush balls in, and he can also extend his arms and crush pitches away from him to the opposite field gap. Because of the frame-based power potential, Veen was one of a handful of high schoolers who had a chance to really blow up during his senior spring and insert himself among the college prospects atop this draft, and because high school ball began in Florida before the COVID-19 pandemic, teams got to see some of that development and Veen separated himself from some of the other prep hitters. He’s a prototypical power-hitting high school prospect.

When’s he going to get to the Rockies and how good will he be once he’s there?

Rockies fans can dream of an All-Star future with Veen and his 2021 success has likely crystallized those visions. It must be said that there’s still 2-4 years of minor league development time ahead for Veen before he sees the Show, but so far it’s been exactly what Rockies fans were hoping to see from their top ranked prospect. I was among the many in the electorate acclaiming Veen the top PuRP with a 55 FV grade as a likely above average MLB regular with star upside.

★ ★ ★

Thanks to everyone who has read along with me through this PuRPs series! Check back soon for a complete list with full voting results for the mid-season 2021 Purple Row Prospect list as well as my view on the state of the system.