17. Adael Amador (265 points, 20 ballots)
Adael Amador, an athletic switch hitter with a 6’0”, 160-pound frame, was the highest-rated signing for the Rockies in the July 2 period in 2019, representing the 12th-highest ranked player in that class by MLB Pipeline. The shortstop, who will turn 19 next month, signed with Colorado for $1.5 million — giving him the equivalent of an early second round draft bonus — but only got into professional games in late June 2021 for the Arizona Complex Level team.
In the ACL against competition on average about 1.9 years older, Amador hit for a strong .299/.394/.445 line in 200 plate appearances that included four homers and 15 extra-base hits (122 wRC+). Amador walked (13.5%) about as often as he struck out (14.5%) and was just 10-for-17 stealing bases. It was a great professional debut for Amador, who is in line to spend all of 2022 as a teenager in full-season ball.
Here’s some video on Amador hitting from both sides of the plate at 2021 fall instructs courtesy of FanGraphs:
The FanGraphs report from January accompanying the above video ranks Amador 15th in the system with a 40 FV grade, including 60 grades on his speed and arm:
Amador is a well-rounded middle infield prospect with a smaller, almost maxed-out frame … Amador makes a high rate of contact and often tries to bunt his way on, giving him a leadoff/nine-hole stylistic look as a hitter. The contact itself is fairly monochromatic, with lots of pulled choppers and grounders rather than exciting, gap-to-gap spray. There’s not a lot of room to project on the power here, as Amador is a squat young guy without obvious room on his frame for big strength. He reads more like a lower-variance teenage prospect who is most likely to be a valuable utility type rather than an everyday player. His early-career contact rates are pretty good, though, and the other foundational components we love (switch-hitting, up-the-middle defensive fit, great peripherals) are all present, and give Amador a great shot to be an everyday player if it turns out we’re under-projecting his eventual power. The hit tool seems to have a shot to drive an everyday profile here, but Amador is more likely to mature in the 45 FV tier than end up on an eventual top 100 list.
Baseball Prospectus was more bullish, ranking Amador sixth in the system as a 55 OFP prospect back in November:
Amador came stateside and raked in the complex. It’s an unorthodox swing, garnering a “not how I would draw it up” from one evaluator, but despite a big leg kick and an indirect, often top-hand dominated bat path, he makes consistent good contact. It’s not super loud at present and Amador will need physical development to get to an above-average hit and average power projection, but it’s in play. Defensively, Amador isn’t a sure shot shortstop although he shows decent hands and range at present.
Last week, ESPN.com’s Kiley McDaniel ranked Amador ninth with a 45 FV grade:
Amador has some similar stuff [to fellow PuRP Ezequiel Tovar] going on, as an above average runner and defender at short with some contact skills. Amador has better pitch selection, but isn’t quite as dynamic in terms of explosion or power potential.
Keith Law of the Athletic ranked Amador 13th in his February system look:
[Amador] showed good feel for the strike zone and a real ability to put the ball in play despite a deep load that can make his path to the ball longer than it needs to be. He lacks a plus tool but should stay on the dirt, with a move to second base more likely.
Even in his brief time at instructs, Amador stood out for not looking his age, showing an aptitude beyond most 17-year-olds. There’s plenty of tools to grow into as well, with a solid approach from both sides of the plate, using bat speed, rhythm and timing, ingredients for him to be perhaps a better than average hitter with pop, with his right-handed swing creating a bit more impact at present. There’s plenty of room for him to continue to add strength, which should help him at the plate and as a baserunner.
He has the arm, hands and instincts to play a solid shortstop, with confidence that he’ll have the aptitude to move around the infield as needed, something the Rockies often preach. Ahead of most his age in terms of his ability to understand the game, now it’s time for him to put those tools and instincts to use on the field.
The low grade there is the 40 power, but everything else is 50 or 55.
Amador has a long road to travel to the big leagues (perhaps three to four years), but he represents a potential up the middle regular or super utility player for Rockies teams in the latter half of this decade. I ranked Amador 17th on my personal ballot with a 40+ FV grade and have been encouraged with his performance so far.