A common thought among many Rockies fans is that it’s time to begin to let the kids play. For the first time since the 2017 preseason, MLB ranked the Colorado Rockies farm system in the top 10 in the league, placing them ninth in the most recent midseason ranking. Prior to this season, the Rockies had been placed 24th in the league. There is a lot of talent in the organization that is slowly starting to bubble up towards the surface and, just like Elehuris Montero, are ready to make an impact at the big league level. The month of August has been evidence of one such prospect that could be in the mix for a September audition in Michael Toglia.
Toglia was recently ranked 11th in our midseason PuRPs list and ranked 15th in the Rockies Top 30 prospects list by MLB. After starting the season in Double-A Hartford, Toglia was promoted to Triple-A Albuquerque near the beginning of this month and put the pedal to the metal and is making a good case worthy of a call-up or a starting job in 2023.
So, is it Toglia time?
Toglia played 97 games in Hartford this season, continuing on from the 41 games he played there in 2021. In 2022, he batted .234/.329/.466 with 23 home runs and 66 RBI. The thing about Toglia is that he also fits into the mold of a Three True Outcomes type of player. He averaged a 12.1% BB, 30.2% K, and a 5% HR in 420 plate appearances while also totaling a 114 wRC+ with the team. In his 138 total games in Hartford across two seasons, he put up a decent .229/.329/.449 with 28 home runs and 84 RBI.
It’s a small sample size, but Toglia has made a strong impression in his first 16 games at the Triple-A level as he is batting .344/.408/.781 with seven home runs and 17 RBI in 71 plate appearances. The strikeouts are still around 30% while the walks are around 9%, but if nothing else he has been extremely consistent with his bat profile. Toglia has found a way to really hit the ball for power and average against better pitching, finding success with a BABIP over .405 and an ISO of .311 while posting a wOBA over .410 in Albuquerque. He’s really putting things together, as evidenced by the three-homer night he had on Saturday night, which gave him 30 homers on the minor league season.
The bat is there, and if he’s going to be consistent with his TTO profile it may be time for him to get a chance soon, but what needs to be done to give him a chance should he be ready to contribute?
The Rockies have a lot of work to do this offseason and space will need to be made on the 40-man roster to protect players eligible for the Rule-5 draft. Currently, the Rockies have one open spot on the roster, which could be used to add somebody for a September call-up. If you want to get ahead of the curve, you can add Toglia right away and keep him protected with the intention of giving him an audition for the next season.
If he impresses in his limited playing time, a regular spot will need to be made available on the big league roster. As of now, the main point of blockage is C.J. Cron, who is signed through the 2023 season. Cron could potentially be a trade chip this season, which could help replenish something like their pitching depth, while also opening an avenue for Toglia to get more regular playing time. While both he and Montero can play first base, the assumption is that Toglia is the preferred defensive option. If Cron gets moved, it opens up the possibility of a potential platoon with Montero, a feat that is benefitted by the fact that Toglia is a switch hitter.
If there is a platoon of sorts, it could be used simply as a way to spot one another at first while the other serves as a designated hitter. Toglia’s bat can fit nicely into a designated hitter role, but the problem with that aspect is that Montero also needs a regular playing spot with third base locked down by Ryan McMahon, and his glove still needs plenty of improvement.
A possible option could be using Toglia as a corner outfielder. He hasn’t played there much, but Toglia does have a bit of experience in the outfield, giving the Rockies some more flexibility in how to use him. Should Charlie Blackmon choose to exercise his option for 2023 (which he probably will), Toglia could see more time in the outfield to begin his big league career. That would free up Blackmon to spend time as a DH or right field and open up a three-man rotation of options between Montero, Toglia, and Blackmon.
Randal Grichuk could then find himself as an odd-man-out or a trade chip unless he is expected to control center field once more. That would then pass the buck to Connor Joe, Garrett Hampson, or even Yonathan Daza as potential non-tenders. Either way, multiple dominoes will need to fall if the Rockies think that Michael Toglia is ready for the big leagues soon because they can’t afford to limit him to a game or two a week.
It’s a tough decision at this time, but I feel at this point, it’s in the Rockies' best interest to start ushering in their young prospects. We’ve seen Elehuris Montero thrive under regular playing time this season, and for a team that is full of veterans with a number of them underperforming, it’s time for a fresh generation of Rockies players to get a chance. Michael Toglia is just one of many that are knocking on the door, stating that they are ready for a chance, and it’s up to Bill Schmidt and the Rockies front office to answer that call and give him a platform to succeed.
What do you think? Would you like to see Toglia get a chance soon? Keep the conversation going in the comments below!
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Ryan McMahon has had a spectacular month of August, but just how good has it been? Our pal Noah Yingling at Rox Pile takes a dive into his stats and what has made him so successful. The Rockies will need this version of Ryan McMahon going forward, as opposed to the struggling version earlier in the season.
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On The Farm
Despite three home runs from Michael Toglia, Albuquerque's pitching couldn’t keep the Round Rock offense at bay on Saturday. Riley Smith was tagged for 10 runs on 12 hits in 4 1⁄3 innings of work. Smith did manage five strikeouts and just one walk but ran into trouble in the third and fourth innings. Jordan Sheffield and Ashton Goudeau were also charged with eight runs on nine hits over four innings combined.
It took nine innings, but Hartford pulled off the extra-innings win in the first game of the twin bill against Portland. Hartford struck first in the top of the first, but Portland answered with a run in the bottom of the second, where the score would remain deadlocked until Hunter Stovall singled in the runner on second in the ninth to take the lead. Will Ethridge tossed three strong innings of one-run ball in his start, passing to baton to a number of relievers who held down the fort. Gavin Hollowell took home the win after tossing two scoreless innings and Stephen Jones nailed down his fifth save.
The second game was an inverse score-wise but still had quality pitching. Noah Gotsis tossed six innings for Hartford, allowing two runs, one earned, on three hits and striking out six. The deciding blow came in the sixth inning when former Rockies prospect Christian Koss hit a solo home run that became the winning run. Hartford was only able to scatter three hits in seven innings and struck out 12 times.
Spokane’s offense mustered just two runs on two hits but fell just short as they couldn’t overcome a three-run seventh for Everett. Eddy Diaz scored both runs and swiped four bases on the night, including home, bringing his total to 35 in Spokane this season. The offense struck out 12 times and went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position. On the mound, Case Williams turned in one of his best performances, allowing three runs over seven innings, but did give up two home runs in that seventh inning.
Despite being out-hit, the Fresno Grizzlies made the most of their 10 hits as they scored 11 runs to take down Stockton on Saturday night. Yanquiel Fernandez and Juan Brito both hit home runs to help propel the Fresno offense, with Fernandez driving in three runs. Yorvis Torrealba had a two-hit night and drove in two runs while Benny Montgomery added two hits of his own. McCade Brown labored through 4 2⁄3 innings of work, allowing six runs on nine hits. The bullpen held Stockton to three runs the rest of the game, nailing down the save in the ninth thanks to Angel Chivilli.
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