Gone should be the days where the Colorado Rockies farm system is slept on, ranked poorly, or in general overlooked. The Rockies had a whopping 14 overall players across all minor leagues named Minor League All-Stars, tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for most in the league. The Rockies had at least one player from each league named an All-Star, and dominated the Low-A California League with five. Today we’re going to explore the accomplishments of our young All-Stars. There are a lot of familiar faces on the list of accolades: young men I’ve discussed at length before, players who made their big league debuts, and Arizona Fall League invitees. There are also some lesser known Rockies minor leaguers in their midst.
Congratulations to our 2022 MiLB All-Stars! ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/uiLhI5FRWL— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) November 14, 2022
Dominican Summer League and Arizona Complex League
19-year old catcher Bryan Betancourt was signed out of Venezuela as an international free agent in 2021 and made his professional debut that same year with the Rockies’ Dominican Summer League team. This year he returned to the DSL Rockies and made his splash by hitting .355/.462/.674 in 44 games with 11 home runs. He was also named a DSL All-Star in July.
A two-year veteran of the DSL Rockies, outfielder Jesus Bugarin moved up to the Arizona Complex League this year. Bugarin had a strong 2021 with the DSL Rockies by hitting .339/.419/.448 in 51 games. He proved that season wasn’t a flash in the pan by largely replicating his results with the ACL Rockies. In 51 games he hit .337/.391/.505 during his age-20 season while largely playing center field.
Low-A Fresno Grizzlies - California League
The Rockies’ Low-A affiliate Fresno Grizzlies were an absolute delight to watch this season with a second consecutive playoff berth under the Rockies’ banner. This year they had a whopping five players named Minor League All-Stars.
Outfielder Yanquiel Fernandez, shortstop Adael Amador, catcher Hunter Goodman, and left-handed pitcher Mason Green are all players I’ve discussed at length this season and their accolades are well earned. The fifth Fresno Grizzlies All-Star may be familiar to you for a different reason. Second baseman Juan Brito was traded to the Cleveland Guardians for corner infielder Nolan Jones earlier this week.
I affectionately nicknamed Brito “Juan Brillante” for how he dazzled me this season. A doubles machine and speedy contact-first hitter, Brito slashed .286/.407/.470 with 29 doubles and six triples, but also showed some pop in his bat with 11 home runs. He stole 17 bases, drew more walks (78) than he struck out (71) and drove in 72 runs. I’m going to miss seeing him with the Rockies organization and I sincerely hope he flourishes with the Guardians.
High-A Spokane Indians - Northwest League
The Spokane Indians had the second-most players in the organization be granted post-season All-Star honors, including shortstop Julio Carreras, whom the Rockies protected from the Rule-5 draft with elevation to the 40-man roster.
Second baseman Eddy Diaz is a contact-first batter who slashed .261/.330/.373 with the Indians in 101 games. However, “Fast Eddy” is better known for his 70-grade speed and base stealing acumen. While not the world-beating 59 he stole last year, Diaz stole a strong 37 this season.
Originally drafted as a catcher, first baseman and left fielder Colin Simpson didn’t log any innings behind the dish with the Indians. He also played a smattering of designated hitter. A 29th round pick in the 2019 draft, Simpson slumped at the plate in 2021 and slowly saw his reps as catcher replaced with other positions. This year his bat roared back to life with a .300/.370/.530 line, 17 home runs, and 60 RsBI.
Of course the Spokane All-Star contingent is rounded out by who else but outfielder Zac Veen. The Rockies’ no. 1 overall prospect continued to amaze all who beheld him in 2022. In 92 games with the Indians he hit .269/.368/.439 with 11 home runs and a Northwest League-leading 50 stolen bases. He was named to the All-Star Futures game and went 2-for-3 with two stolen bases in a nationally televised game. He participated in the Arizona Fall League and was one of the best damn hitters there. He slashed .333/.444/.444 with a home run, 16 stolen bases, and 15 walks to just eight strikeouts. Veen was named to the AFL’s “Fall-Stars” roster and took home a bevvy of Northwest League accolades including All-Star, top prospect, and MVP. Veen is without a doubt the next superstar of this organization. This is the year the world was put on notice.
Double-A Hartford Yard Goats - Eastern League
Shortstop Ezequiel Tovar is the lone representative of the Yard Goats, but doubles up on post-season hardware with the title of the Eastern League’s Top Prospect. Tovar began the season with the Yard Goats and was absolutely electric in 66 games while hitting .318/.386/.546 with 13 home runs and 17 stolen bases. He was named to the All-Star Futures Game along with Zac Veen but was unable to play due to a nagging groin injury that sidelined him for a large chunk of the season. When Tovar recovered he went straight to Triple-A Albuquerque to tune up, where he hit .333 in seven games with a home run before it was time to make his big league debut. Tovar struggled somewhat in his first cup of coffee, but showed flashes of what makes him so tantalizing of a top prospect. Next season it’s officially Tovar Time.
Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes - Pacific Coast League
Outfielder Sean Bouchard was the surprise of the season. The 2017 draft pick out of UCLA had shown flashes in previous seasons but struggled somewhat in Double-A in 2021 after the previous season was cancelled. Bouchard bounced back in a big way with the Isotopes by hitting .300/.404/.635 with 20 home runs and 44 walks. He then transitioned into an extremely successful major league debut. In 27 games with the Rockies he hit .297/.454/.500 with 3 home runs and walked a staggering 21 times to just 25 strikeouts.
Outfielder Wynton Bernard has always been a fan favorite wherever he goes, and it’s been no different in Albuquerque. The beloved, high-spirited speedster was the feel-good story of the season when he earned his first major league call-up after 11 years in the minors. Bernard slashed .333/.387/.590 with 21 home runs, 30 stolen bases, eight triples, and 31 doubles with the Isotopes and went 12-for-42 in a big league uniform. Bernard is now a free agent and we don’t know where the winds will take him next. Wherever he goes, he will be loved by the fans.
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The Rockies traded outfielder Raimel Tapia to the Toronto Blue Jays last spring in exchange for Randal Grichuk. Tapia was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays earlier this week and Kevin Larson (better known as “the Sabermetric Skeptic” on twitter explores how this rare Rockies trade panned out.
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