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Michael Toglia experienced growing pains during his first big-league stint

A meteoric rise through the minors earned the rookie prospect meaningful playing time in September

Welcome to the 2022 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2022. 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, Michael Toglia: -0.1 rWAR

A disappointing 2022 saw the Rockies well out of contention as they reached the final month of the regular season. As is typical of a team entering a meaningless September, they decided to give some playing time to young prospects looking to get their feet wet. What wasn’t typical was that the Rockies made the expected move of promoting Michael Toglia, one of their top prospects, to the big leagues in the final week of August.

Toglia began the season in Double-A Hartford, playing 97 games there to the tune of a .234/.329/.466 slash line with 23 home runs and 66 RBI. By August he earned a promotion to Triple-A Albuquerque where he went scorched earth on the PCL for about two weeks. In just 17 games with the Isotopes, Toglia had a .333 AVG and a .413 OBP, but what really stood out was his .758 SLG. He popped seven home runs and seven doubles while driving in 17 runs and scoring 11 of his own. That seemed to be impressive enough that the Rockies called up Toglia to make his debut on the road against the Atlanta Braves at the end of August.

The young switch-hitter played in 31 of the team’s final 33 games, starting all but one of those games. In 120 at-bats, he tallied 24 hits with six two-hit games and a lone three-hit game. He also smacked eight doubles, two triples (both in the same game), and two home runs that helped give a little bit of a preview of what makes Toglia’s bat so promising.

However, he did so demonstrate some of the problems that could arise if they aren’t addressed. Toglia profiles as a “three true outcomes” type of player. He will hit for power but is also prone to strikeouts that can only be offset by an ability to draw walks. In the minors, Toglia averaged a strikeout rate of roughly 30% with a walk rate slightly above 12%. During his big league stint, he struck out 44 times — which equates to a 36.7% strikeout rate — while drawing just nine walks.

When he did hit the ball, Toglia is as advertised with the power threat. He posted a 40.2% hard-hit rate with an average launch angle of 17 degrees and a .338 BABIP when he makes contact. He averaged an even split between ground balls and fly balls but did lack in the line drive department. If he hopes to contribute offensively, he will need to find a way to raise his OBP and SLG numbers, cut down on strikeouts, and not drive the ball into the dirt as much.

On the other side of the ball, Toglia displayed a strong skillset with the glove. He split time between first base and right field. Despite not being his natural position, Toglia did show promise in the outfield, making it a suitable option next season if the Rockies choose to keep C.J. Cron. However, his future defensively is best suited for first base. His glove is reminiscent of Todd Helton and there could be a Gold Glove in his future if he continues to improve there, especially with his range ability.

Michael Toglia is another indication that the Rockies are finally starting to trend towards a “rebuild” type of mentality of promoting their young stars in tandem with their veterans. If Toglia can find a consistent plate approach under the new hitting coach next year, he can expand on the potential he displayed in 2022 while overcoming the growing pains. If he does that, it’ll be a major step for the future of the franchise.

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