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Colorado Rockies prospects: No. 22, Victor Juarez

The teenager held his own in an aggressive Low-A assignment

22. Victor Juarez (172 points, 16 ballots)

It’s important to remember that Juarez has already played a year of full-season ball and won’t turn 20 until June. The right-handed starter didn’t have too much fanfare entering 2022 despite a $500k signing bonus in January 2021 out of Mexico, but he turned some heads as one of the youngest pitchers in Low-A last year. The 6’0” pitcher debuted in 2021 in the DSL, where he had strong numbers and even earned a cameo appearance in the Arizona Complex League to finish the season.

In 2022, the Rockies showed their faith in Juarez by assigning him to Low-A Fresno, where he was about 2.8 years younger than league average and was the youngest player on the team. Despite the age gap, Juarez pitched like he belonged, especially during his first ten starts. That 53 13 innings stretch included four quality starts and a 2.41 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and .197 batting average against with 55 strikeouts and just 12 walks — all while getting strong reviews from scouts and the Rockies front office on his polish.

Of course, I drew the line at ten starts because in his next two outings, Juarez was knocked around for seven runs per start en route to a June ERA of 6.87 and a July ERA of 7.23 in 37 innings (batters hit .319 off him in June and .329 in July). That bad six-start run raised his overall ERA to 5.00, and though Juarez’s final five starts righted the ship a bit, his ending ERA was at 4.98 for the season. In all, Juarez threw 103 innings in 21 starts with a 1.31 WHIP, 8.7 K/9 rate, and 2.9 BB/9 rate.

In Jack Etkin’s June 2022 piece in Rockies Magazine on Juarez (worth reading in its entirety), which took place just as Juarez was entering his struggles, pitching coordinator Doug Linton was effusive in his praise for the pitcher, comparing him to a young Zack Greinke with his pre-natural feel for pitching.

Big Country’s Wheelhouse has a colorful look at some of Juarez’s work in 2022 below:

Fangraphs didn’t have Juarez on their pre-season 2022 list, but added him in April after a strong start to the season and moved him up to the 40+ FV tier in June (again, right before the dip in performance). He’s currently ranked 10th in the system with a plus plus (70) future grade on his command:

The typical trajectory for a teenage pitcher like Juarez would be to spend his first pro season in the DSL, then come stateside for Extended Spring Training and play on the Complex during his second. Juarez, who looked great during minor league spring training, skipped right over the Rockies Arizona Complex level and was sent to Low-A Fresno at age 18. He can really pitch, and has had a velo spike early on this year. After sitting 91 last year, he’s been 92-95 with advanced command of an upper-70s curveball, and a mid-80s changeup. Multiple scouts who have seen Juarez (including one who saw him as an amateur) are big believers in his command and his feel to pitch, and think he at least projects toward the back of a rotation.

Juarez isn’t on any other national lists right now, but I suspect that will change come later this off-season given the impression he’s made this year. Here’s an excerpt from the aforementioned Etkins article in June 2022 on the stuff:

Juarez’s fastball ranges from 89–93 mph and sits at 91–92 mph. The pitch has more run than sink but has late life and late movement. It is a pitch he effectively moves off the barrel of the hitter’s bat. His changeup sits at 84 mph and ranges from 82 mph to 86 mph. He’ll double it up, namely throw it on successive pitches, and that is both unusual and impressive for such a young pitcher.


Juarez’s curveball ranges from 75 mph to 79 mph and sits at 77 mph. It has 12–6 action — meaning 12 to 6 as in the hands on a clock — with very good depth.


When [Doug] Linton was at Fresno earlier in the season, Juarez asked about throwing a slider. He did so on flat ground for Linton. The pitch showed immediate promise. Juarez began working on it with [Fresno pitching coach Mark] Brewer and used it in a game for the first time in a May 28 start. It ranges from 80 mph to 83 mph and sits at 81 mph.

When looking at Juarez’s 2022, we have to acknowledge both the awesome beginning and the terrible middle with an understanding that he adjusted somewhat near the end to whatever the league had figured out on him. The question remains one of if Juarez’s polish and advanced arsenal/command will allow him to overcome low-end raw stuff and velocity? Or will that take a step forward as well? Those are relevant questions when thinking about how to value a player with Juarez’s skillset, but we should also enjoy what he is now: a precocious pitching talent who largely held his own as a teenager in A-ball.

Juarez is probably still a couple years away and appears likely to begin 2023 with High-A Spokane. With Juarez, the path to the big leagues and a spot in the starting rotation once he gets there are easier to envision for me than a player with better stuff but worse command. I ranked Juarez as a 40 FV player, 21st on my list, because I’m still a sucker for ceiling and the bad stretch during the middle of the season was worrisome, but I’m also excited at the plus command of a four-pitch arsenal.