clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Colorado Rockies prospect rankings, mid-season 2022: numbers 5 to 3

Almost to the end!

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

We’ve entered the top five of the mid-season 2021 Purple Row Prospects (PuRPs) list! Today we’ll rank PuRPs 3, 4 and 5 and tomorrow we’ll reveal the top two. 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, 28 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 2022 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 (705 points, 28 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 5 — High Ballot 4, Mode Ballot 4

How did he enter the organization?

2021 Trade, St. Louis

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

This will be the final PuRP list appearance for the 24-year-old corner infielder. Montero exhausted his prospect eligibility between the time polling started and now, but it’s good to give the 6’3”, 235 pound righty slugger a prospect send-off in the form of this profile. Montero won’t be able to shake the notoriety of being one of the two most prominent players acquired for Nolan Arenado last February, but he’s doing the best he can to assuage the sting of that trade with his performance of late.

Montero brought the thunder in 2021, bashing 28 homers among his 50 extra-base hits across Double-A and Triple-A as one of the younger players in both leagues. In 2022, he was assigned to Triple-A Albuquerque to begin the campaign, where he was 3.6 years younger than league average. Montero hit .288/.356/.450 in April with Albuquerque, including four homers in 80 at-bats, before getting his first call to the Show. Montero made his MLB debut as the DH on May 1st with a 2-4 day at the plate, then got sent back down for the rest of the month to Triple-A. Back in Albuquerque, Montero turned up the offense with a .323/.402/.559 month that included six homers and four doubles in 93 ABs.

The Rockies called Montero back up on June 7th for three hitless games, then back down he went for another ten days. In his third (and fourth) Triple-A stints, Montero laid on the offensive heat even more with a .429/.463/.829 June, including three homers and four other extra-base hits in 35 ABs. Colorado called Montero back up on June 21st, but frustratingly didn’t give him any consistent playing time.

Montero played in just seven out of 22 games between June 21st and July 14th (he went 4-for-22 with two doubles), when he was sent down again to Albuquerque. After a fifth stint in Albuquerque in which Montero hit .234/.379/.447 in 47 ABs, the infielder was back in Colorado on August 2nd. That probably closed the book on the Albuquerque portion of the season for Montero. All told, his total 2022 line in Triple-A was .310/.392/.541 with 15 HR and 27 XBH in 297 PA, good for a 130 wRC+. Since that August 2nd recall, Montero has been given (and has earned) everyday playing time split between DH, first, and third base. With that opportunity, Montero has shown himself to be the dangerous hitter he was in Triple-A this season.

In 70 MLB August plate appearances, Montero is hitting a healthy .279/.300/.559 (139 OPS+) with four homers and seven doubles, though he has struck out 20 times in August against just one walk (one of two walks he has this year in MLB). The overall 33% K rate and 2% BB rate are worrisome, no doubt, but it’s good to see Montero translate his prodigious offensive ability into production at the major league level. So far in 2022, Montero has a .245/.267/.451 line (83 wRC+) in 105 PA, good for 0.3 rWAR. Defensively, Montero has split his time nearly evenly between DH, first, and third with the Rockies (and committing two errors in 18 games in the field), though with Albuquerque he spent 57% of the time at third base (seven errors there vs. one at first).

Although you can now just watch Montero daily for the Rockies, here’s some tape of him from the 2019 Arizona Fall League courtesy of Fangraphs:

What do the scouts say?

In the report accompanying the above video, Fangraphs places Montero 17th on their Rockies org look as a 40 FV player, down from a 45 FV grade in January:

During the 2019 regular season, Montero averaged just shy of 2.5 pitches per plate appearance, a rate that would have made him the most aggressive hitter in the majors by a comfortable margin (Willians Astudillo averaged 2.9 pitches per PA that year). For a corner defender, that was a very scary thing, and Montero was just a 40 FV prospect on last year’s list primarily because of the bust risk associated with poor plate discipline. He had a much better 2021 season in this regard. His walk rate nearly doubled, he saw about 3.8 pitches per plate appearance during the year, and his 46% Swing% combined at Triple-A and while with Estrellas in the Dominican Winter League is close to the big league average.


If this is a real, sustained development, then Montero is going to be a valuable big league hitter very soon. His swing is simple but he still has the strength to do damage (this guy’s going to hit 40 annual doubles at Coors) without an elaborate cut, he covers the whole plate, and while he’s vulnerable to well-located breaking balls, he punishes the ones that don’t quite finish. He’s also held serve as a viable third baseman and has experience at first. We still have Montero projected as more of a second-division regular sort because the hit/power combination is more solid than exceptional, and because it’s possible there will be a regression to his career mean in the plate discipline department.

Kiley McDaniel of slotted Montero 6th in the system as a 45 FV player in March:

[Montero] has plus raw power and above-average bat control, but below-average pitch selection can undermine both. Montero is just OK at third base, but, like many of the position players in this range, fits somewhere from a platoon player to low-end starter.

Keith Law of the Athletic put Montero 5th in the system in February after previously ranking him in the overall top 100:

Montero got the do-over he needed in Double-A after flopping at that level in 2019, making a two-level jump only to try to hit with a broken hamate bone in his left wrist. He hit .279/.362/.523 for Double-A Hartford before a late promotion to Albuquerque, where he slugged .546 in 28 games and continued to put the ball in play. He’s a bad third baseman and capable enough at first, but there seems to be enough hit/power here that he could end up a solid regular.

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

Montero is here now, and he’s doing damage for the Rockies. The question is, will the everyday playing time he’s currently enjoying last even after injured Rockies make it back onto the roster? Also, can Montero remain successful with such a dreadful K/BB split? Montero could make adjustments and mash in MLB as a regular, but he could also struggle to make adjustments that help him make more loud contact. He’s in his third minor league option year already, so it’s good he’s showing what he can do now in MLB to the Rockies. I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I believed in the bat enough to rank Montero seventh on my ballot as a 45+ FV player.

★ ★ ★

4. Adael Amador (717 points, 28 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 17 — High Ballot 2, Mode Ballot 4

How did he enter the organization?

2019 International Free Agent, Dominican Republic

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Amador’s breakout this year might not have been quite as celebrated as fellow PuRP Ezequiel Tovar’s (more on Tovar in the next post), but the step forward the 19-year-old switch-hitting shortstop took in 2022 in the eyes of national prospect watchers might be even larger than Tovar. The 6’0”, 160-pound Amador was hanging around the top ten of the Rockies system entering the season, but he’s now a player who is on overall top 100 lists.

Amador was the highest-rated signing for the Rockies in the July 2nd period in 2019, representing the 15th-highest ranked player in that class by MLB Pipeline. He 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 due largely to the lost 2020 season. 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.

Amador was assigned to Low-A Fresno to start 2022, where he was the second-youngest player on the team behind fellow PuRP Victor Juarez (No. 22), 2.1 years below league average. Amador started out hot with a 1.086 OPS in April and has stayed solidly above average offensively this year. In 478 plate appearances, Amador has showed good plate discipline and even some power in his .300/.423/.461 batting line (134 wRC+) that includes 14 home runs among his 34 extra-base hits as well as 23 steals in 35 attempts.

Indeed, Amador has walked in 16% of his PA while striking out in only 12% and tapping more into his power. He’s hit well from both sides of the plate, with a .877 OPS as a lefty and .906 OPS as a righty (in a smaller sample size). Amador has played almost exclusively shortstop so far in 2022, committing 19 errors in 95 games there to date.

Here’s some video on Amador hitting from both sides of the plate at 2021 fall instructs courtesy of FanGraphs:

What do the scouts say?

The FanGraphs report accompanying the above video ranks Amador 5th in the system with a 45 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.

The above report was originally tied to a 40 FV grade, but Eric Longenhagen’s June system update discussed the bump to a 45 FV grade for Amador:

Adael Amador is laying down an early-career track record of both above-average plate discipline and in-zone contact, but he’s less of a lock to stay at shortstop and might end up at second base. He jumps into the 45 FV tier. The power for him to be an every-inning second base regular may not materialize due to his lack of size, but he’s a skilled up-the-middle player and a likely role-player at the very least, and I have spoken to scouts who have an everyday grade on him.

Baseball Prospectus has had several check-ins on Amador this year (May 23rd, June 13th, June 22nd). Here’s Marc Delucchi from the most recent look:

Amador has an impressive approach, regardless of age. He rarely offered at balls in my looks at him this week in San Jose, and adjusted well to pitcher’s tendencies over the course of the game. When Giants 2021 second-round pick Matt Mikulski became fastball shy after giving up a pair of homers, Amador sat on his breaking ball for a two-run blast that forced Mikulski out of the game.

Amador is aggressive on the basepaths, and attempted to steal six times against the Giants this week, but he lacks standout speed and struggled to get good jumps. It seems unlikely to be a part of his game at higher levels. Defensively, Amador has the arm and athleticism to stick at short if he can improve his fundamentals, but should make an above-average defensive second baseman even if he stalls.

Amador has the potential for a 60-grade hit tool on both sides of the plate, and consistently squared up balls all series long. His power shows up inconsistently at the moment, but his frame should add strength as he matures, which could make him a really dangerous bat.

BP placed Amador 49th overall in their mid-season top 50:

Why he’ll succeed: Another switch-hitting teenage shortstop tearing up the Cal League? Another switch-hitting teenage shortstop tearing up the Cal League! Amador has an even better approach and bat-to-ball than [Edwin] Arroyo…

Why he might fail: …but less power and less defensive chops. Still, he’s a very advanced hitter for his age, and if he ends up at second instead of short, that’s not the end of the world.

Amador is 3rd in the system for and 64th on the top 100 as a 55 FV player in their mid-season look:

Amador, a teenager for all of the 2022 season, has impressed with his ability to make contact from both sides of the plate. He controls the barrel very well and has an advanced approach at the plate, especially for his age and experience, walking nearly as much as he struck out during his debut. The biggest question about his offensive profile had been about how much he’ll be able to impact the ball, but he’s worked to add strength and showed much more extra-base authority in 2022.

While he played mostly shortstop during his debut, the jury is out what his long-term defensive home will be. He showed off excellent footwork during instructs and he has the chance to develop as a shortstop with an average arm, but he might best be suited for second base in the future. The good news is his actions work very well on the dirt up the middle, with his ceiling tied to how much his offensive profile develops.

The low grade is the 45 power, but everything else is 50 or 55, including a 55 hit tool.’s Kiley McDaniel ranked Amador ninth with a 45 FV grade back in March:

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.

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

The combined package of strong plate discipline and offensive potential shown by a teenaged switch-hitting up-the-middle defender as one of the younger players in full season ball is an enticing one. Amador has already shown more power than was forecasted this time last year and he’s got the chops to stick at shortstop if the Rockies need him there. Sure, he’s several years away and will need to be protected from Rule 5 after next season, but Amador represents another everyday regular profile on the farm for the Rockies. It’s probably not a star ceiling, but the production and profile were strong enough for me to rank Amador fourth on my ballot with a 50 FV grade as a top 100 prospect.

★ ★ ★

3. Drew Romo (779 points, 28 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 3 — High Ballot 2, Mode Ballot 3

How did he enter the organization?

2020 Competitive Balance Round A, The Woodlands HS (TX)

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Romo is the catcher of the future, full stop. The 20-year-old backstop is close to a universal top 100 prospect, he’s above average offensively as one of the younger players in High-A, and he possesses elite defensive traits behind the plate. Romo was the first catcher the Rockies had drafted in the top 100 picks of the draft since 1998 (he was the highest the franchise has ever picked at 35th overall), and it seems to be working out very well so far after Romo signed for a slot $2.1 million bonus.

The 6’1”, 205-pound catcher is a member of quite possibly the riskiest prospect demographic out there: a high school catcher who is also a switch-hitter to boot. Still, Romo provides a strong floor as an elite defensive player with Gold Glove potential behind the plate and had a fantastic 2021 debut campaign that got him on some overall top 100 lists entering 2022. His 2022 has only solidified that standing among scouts.

Romo was assigned to High-A Spokane this season, where he is 2.5 years younger than league average. Romo started off hot with a .884 OPS in April, but has cooled off since. Still, the catcher is hitting .274/.346/.406 (111 wRC+) in 370 plate appearances with five homers among his 28 extra-base hits, as well as 17 stolen bases in 20 attempts. He is hitting much better from the right side in a small sample, having produced a .924 OPS on that side but a .698 OPS from the left side. That’s the opposite of last year, when Romo had an OPS from the left side that was over 300 points higher than the right side.

Romo is striking out in 19% of his PA and walking in 9%, a perfectly acceptable split given his defensive utility. Speaking of that, Romo doesn’t have gaudy stats behind the plate (18% caught stealing, eight errors, eight passed balls this year), but scouts nonetheless give him high marks. In all, you’d prefer a few more walks, a bit more power, and cleaner stats behind the plate, but there’s no denying Romo has had a strong second professional season.

Here’s some video on Romo hitting from both sides of the plate and behind the dish defensively from fall instructs and some high school footage courtesy of FanGraphs:

What do the scouts say?

In the report accompanying the above video, FanGraphs ranks Romo second in the system (and 51st overall) as a 50 FV prospect:

Romo was the best defensive catcher among the 2020 draft’s high schoolers. He had the best arm, as well as rare physicality and athleticism for a catcher, a walking, broad-shouldered embodiment of his home state. Romo also switch-hits and has huge raw power and bat speed, but there were serious pre-draft concerns about his ability to make contact. Those concerns drove some teams to think he’d head to school rather than sign, but the Rockies took him early enough to keep him from LSU. It would have been fine if Romo had endured a rocky pro debut with the bat, as he was considered a raw hitter, and he was carrying the new weight of a pro catcher’s daily responsibilities and physical grind. Guys like this tend to take time. But Romo had an impressive year, slashing .314/.345/.439 (continuing to build context for the re-aligned Low-A West, this was just 5% better than the league-average line) and posting a surprising 9% swinging strike rate (the big league average is 12%). At times too proactive in the batter’s box, Romo’s contact quality suffers from his lack of selectivity, and he managed a barrel rate south of 2% in 2021 despite the good-looking surface-level statline. Again, if there’s a player type to be patient with, it’s a huge-framed switch-hitter like Romo. His defensive ability gives him a floor of sorts, and his surprising ability to avoid whiffing in his first year is an encouraging sign that he might one day break out. He remains a high risk prospect with a chance to be an above-average regular.

That evaluation includes a 70 grade on the arm and future 60 grade for fielding and raw power.

Baseball Prospectus is even higher on Romo, ranking him second in the system and 32nd overall in their mid-season top 50 update:

Why he’ll succeed: Romo was drafted as a fantastic defensive catcher who didn’t look like he’d hit a whole lot. He remains a stupendous defender—his framing numbers have been sensational—but he’s also hit for shockingly high averages in the low-minors. He makes solid swing decisions with a simple, short stroke to the ball from both sides of the plate, and he’s added strength as a pro. So we’re projecting real offense here now.

Why he might fail: He still doesn’t hit for much power, and it’s possible the bat gets blown out of his hands at higher levels. “High draft pick prep catchers” are the worst developmental cohort relative to expectations in prospecting, and Romo was the 35th pick two years ago, so history isn’t quite on his side.

Here was John Trupin of BP in a May look at Romo:

Romo is a switch-hitting 20-year-old first rounder from the 2020 draft meeting the challenge of High-A with aplomb in the early going. Defensively, Romo merits the flowers he’s received thus far. His movements behind the dish are fluid and instinctive, blocking well with his body when needed and his glove when possible. Appraising catchers in the minors this year faces the additional challenge of overcoming the new rules on pickoff throws, and a few speedy AquaSox took bases off him over the weekend, but overall Romo’s quick release appeared to hold an often steal-happy bunch in check. I expect Romo’s athleticism, instincts, and strong mechanical foundation will make him an above-average backstop as long as he suits up behind the dish.

At the plate thus far, Romo seems to be making the exact sorts of maturing progress the Rockies would hope for. Romo’s swing remains short and direct from both sides of the plate, and as he continues adding strength his above-average bat speed should help him produce greater power numbers. His swing decisions thus far this year and in my viewings have been above-average, including handling well a deceptive lefty in Adam Macko, as well as driving liners from the left side of the plate with consistency. Romo’s stance is wide, like he’s sitting astride a bull, and his short load step is geared to timing more than power gathering, but it’s made for high contact, high-contact quality swings thus far. The floor is high for Romo thanks to his glove, so any offensive competency will get him to the bigs and keep him there. has Romo 66th overall and fourth in the system as a 55 FV player:

There is still no question that Romo’s defense is ahead of his bat. He’s a plus receiver with a plus arm, with impressive athleticism and agility that help him block well. He has good hands and his strong arm and quick release allowed him to throw out 35 percent of potential basestealers in his pro debut. Rockies pitchers already report how much they like throwing to him. He runs pretty well, especially for a catcher, and isn’t afraid to steal a base.

Concerns about Romo’s bat have certainly dissipated after he hit .314/.345/.439 with Fresno a year ago. Better from the left side of the plate, Romo has shown a knack for contact, striking out in just 14.7 percent of his plate appearances in 2021. He’ll need to continue to improve his patience at the plate so he can get to his raw power more, but he’s looking more and more like a big league regular, one whose name is creeping up into the conversation of best catching prospects in the game.

The evaluation is headlined by plus (60) grades on Romo’s arm and field tools and a 55 on the hit tool, while his power (45) and run (45) tools lag behind.

Kiley McDaniel of put Romo 85th on his Top 100 prospect list in February as a 50 FV prospect:

Romo was a showcase stalwart with a plus arm and above-average defensive ability to go with above-average raw power. His contact ability ran hot and cold, but it seemed like he’d be at least solid offensively, not enough for me to think he’d separate from the competition. I was wrong. In his 2021 pro debut at low-A, at age 19, he hit .314 with a 6% walk rate and a 15% strikeout rate. His power metrics were below average (you can’t have it all) but the raw power is in there already, and he’s advanced in all defensive phases, so the pieces are in place for another breakout.

Keith Law of the Athletic ranked Romo 97th overall on his February top 100 and second in the system:

Romo was a surprise pick when Colorado took him in the sandwich round in 2020, in large part because scouts thought his commitment to college was too strong, and a surprise assignment to full-season ball at 19, in large part because scouts questioned his bat way back in high school. Romo then hit .314/.345/.439 for Low-A Fresno, with just a 14.7 percent strikeout rate and, most shocking of all, 23 steals in 30 attempts. He also nailed 35 percent of opposing runners, caught and framed well, and showed advanced game-management skills for a teenager. His bat will probably always lag his defense, but he has a short swing good barrel awareness that results in high contact rates. The offensive bar for a catcher who’s an asset behind the plate isn’t very high; MLB catchers hit a composite .229/.305/.391 in 2021, the worst line of any position. Romo already has the floor of a quality backup who plays a long time in the majors, but it looks more like he’ll be a regular whom coaches and pitchers love because he contributes in all of the other ways that matter.

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

The riskiness of his profile tends to temper enthusiasm about Romo, but the defensive ability is so good and the floor for a MLB catcher that provides value is so low that I think a player with Romo’s defensive tools and offensive profile is a very likely big league regular with the ceiling of an All-Star switch-hitter. I ranked Romo third on my ballot as a 55 FV player, and it is a testament to the two players above him that I didn’t go higher. Romo has responded well so far two aggressive assignments by the Rockies and could be in the big leagues in just a couple years if this trajectory continues.

★ ★ ★

Come back tomorrow to see how the top two rank!