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Colorado Rockies prospects: No. 7, Michael Toglia

After an appearance in the Futures Game and the Arizona Fall League in 2021, what does 2022 have in store for the switch hitter out of UCLA?

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7. Michael Toglia (437 points, 20 ballots)

Michael Toglia is a 23-year-old 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, three years after Colorado had picked but not signed him as a high schooler.

Toglia produced well in his professional debut 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 plate appearances with Spokane, Toglia was fifth in the league with 17 homers among his 29 extra-base hits and stole 7 out of 10 bases. That equated to a .234/.333/.465 batting line (111 wRC+). Toglia was less potent batting right-handed (.746 OPS vs. .810 hitting lefty), neither of which were eye opening for a college first base bat. Toglia’s 12.7% BB rate and 27.6% K rate combined with the 17 homers meant that over 45% of his plate appearances led to one of the Three True Outcomes.

Toglia was selected for the Futures Game in July, where he launched a two-run HR 444 feet to left-center field at Coors Field while batting right-handed as part of a 1-for-3 day. Then a few weeks later in early August he was promoted to Double-A Hartford, where he was 1.9 years younger than league average. In 169 plate appearances with Hartford, Toglia showed an increased Three True Outcome batting profile: 30% strikeouts, 14% walks, 3% homers. In all, Toglia hit .217/.331/.406 with 16 extra-base hits for a 102 wRC+.

Toglia was then selected to the Arizona Fall League, where he played against other top prospects that were about 0.7 years older on average. In 105 plate appearances over 26 games, Toglia hit .264/.343/.407 with three homers. He struck out in 25% of his plate appearances, walked in 11%, and homered in 3%.

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:

Baseball Prospectus slotted Toglia in at 9th as a 50 OFP player in their November system write-up:

Toglia picked up where he left off after the draft, hitting baseballs incredibly hard, but swinging and missing often enough to generate several kilowatts of green energy for the Spokane Valley. A late-summer promotion to Double-A produced more of the same. You can’t tease out the power from the whiffs here, as Toglia has a lot of inefficient hand movement from both sides of the plate that’s responsible for both the prodigious home run totals and the near-30 percent K-rate. And because of the length and stiffness, the contact profile can be suboptimal even when he is getting bat to ball, and while he is patient and draws his walks, the track record of this profile when you are already only hitting .230 at these levels is not great. Toglia played some outfield in college, but has only worn a first base glove in the minors. He’s a solid defender there, but the only thing that will move the needle at the cold corner is 30-plus home run, .330-plus on-base seasons (adjust for altitude as you see fit). The risk of the hit tool just not getting there is high.

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There’s truly elite power potential here, especially when you factor in his home park. It’s hard to have a bad 40-home-run season, and Toglia offers potentially decent glovework and on-base as well. It’s also hard to have a truly good .200 batting average season, and that’s certainly in play here too.

MLB.com ranked Toglia 7th among all first base prospects and 8th in Colorado’s system as a 50 FV player:

Toglia’s offensive profile is all about his power. He’s a threat to leave the yard in every at-bat and can do so from both sides of the plate, hitting 22 homers in 2021. He might always be a higher walk, higher strikeout kind of hitter, as he walked in 13 percent of his plate appearances a year ago and struck out in 28.5 of them. At times he can be too patient and find himself quickly behind in the count, especially when he faced more advanced pitching in Double-A, and the key will be continuing to eliminate swings and misses in the strike zone.

Toglia is athletic enough and has solid instincts to be a good corner outfielder, but he has the chance to be a Gold Glove caliber first baseman. He does everything with ease in and around the bag with excellent hands and a strong arm to boot. He could be Colorado’s first baseman of the future if he can make enough adjustments to hit the ball out of the park consistently.

Kiley McDaniel of ESPN.com ranked Toglia 11th with a 40+ FV grade last month:

[Toglia is] a 6-foot-5 switch-hitting power-and-patience first baseman who doesn’t have a true plus on the card (maybe his left-handed raw power), but he’s solid at everything, which means he’s also in the platoon/bench or low-end starter spectrum.

Keith Law of the Athletic slotted Toglia 19th in his February system ranking:

Toglia has 70 raw power and is a plus defender around the bag at first, but there’s way too much swing and miss here right now, and I don’t think it’s just a matter of improving his pitch recognition.

FanGraphs was clearly the low group on Toglia, dropping him all the way down to 28th in their system rank as a 35+ FV player (after previously putting him in the 45 FV tier):

Over the course of the six-week Arizona Fall League season, opposing pitchers identified and exploited Toglia’s vulnerability to breaking stuff. He very often swings over top of any breaking ball executed within the zip code of the bottom of the strike zone, as his swing just doesn’t enable him to get the bat on plane with the baseball down there. While Toglia has secondary skills we like — he has feel for the zone and is a switch-hitter with power — we expect that his ability to make contact will be so limited that he won’t come close to the lofty offensive bar at first base (he’s coming off hitting .234 at High-A and .217 at Double-A). Instead we like him as a switch-hitting weapon off the bench, a threat to change the makeup of a game by running into the occasional bomb.

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 in games 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 real risk that approach won’t be tenable in the big leagues. Scouts are increasingly worried about if Toglia will ever make consistent enough contact to become a MLB regular hitter, especially if he’s limited to a first base role.

I was spooked somewhat by the stronger concerns on the hit tool and his lack of positional versatility so far, so I dropped Toglia all the way down to 18th on my ballot with a 40+ FV grade. I do like that Toglia has translated his raw power to games, but I’m concerned there’s too much swing-and-miss for the profiled to be viable against big league pitching. Toglia will start 2022 in Double-A and he will need to earn a 40-man roster spot by the end of the year. If he makes progress with his offensive approach, Toglia could force his way to the Show this season, but next year is more likely.