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What’s under the tree for Rockies’ fans this Christmas?

Colorado Rockies news and links for Monday, December 25, 2023

The holiday season is a general hiatus for baseball news. So instead of pondering and hand-wringing about the franchise, let’s take a positive approach on what’s in store for the Colorado Rockies on this Christmas Day. Happy holidays to all the readers and fans out there!

A healthy, productive season for Kris Bryant

Look, will Kris Bryant ever return to his 2016 MVP form? No. That prime is long gone, but that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be higher expectations for Bryant compared to what he’s delivered so far in his two seasons with Colorado.

Since signing his seven-year, $182MM contract in March 2022, Bryant has played in just under 38% of the possible 324 games on the schedule and produced a paltry .259/.335/.404 slash-line in that span. The Rockies paid $46MM for that production.

With five years and $136MM left to go on the deal, Rockies’ management and the fan base are wondering if Bryant will ever become a positive-contribution to the franchise. Considering >20% of next year’s payroll is set to be paid out to his name, seeing Bryant finally put together his first full, impactful season would go a long way in satisfying both the organization and fans in 2024.

Stability in the pitching department

The rash of injuries suffered by the pitching department last season was devastating, there’s just no other way of saying it. On the big league roster, two of the top three arms went down with Germán Márquez and Antonio Senzatela both undergoing Tommy John surgery. The minor league ranks were hit even harder with top prospects Gabriel Hughes, Jackson Cox and Jordy Vargas all going under the knife for TJ, as well.

For an organization already thin in impact arms, cutting the heads off both the top of your MLB rotation and most of your top pitching prospects is debilitating. Ideally, it is a temporary setback and these five (along with LHP Lucas Gilbreath) return to action at different points during the 2024 season.

Beyond the injuries, there is also considerable attention being paid to the development of other arms throughout the organization. The conversation has to start with Chase Dollander – Colorado’s top selection in the 2023 draft – and how he performs in his first minor league season. Plus, the progress made by other recent draft selections Jaden Hill, Carson Palmquist, Joe Rock and Sean Sullivan will also be worth closely monitoring throughout the year.

Pitching – both in the present and future – is still a major question mark for the Rockies’ organization. With any luck, there will be positive momentum gained in that department in 2024.

Another wave of quality prospects playing at Coors Field

When you lose 103 games in a season, there generally aren’t many positive takeaways after the dust settles. For the 2023 Rockies, however, there was the emergence of three potential keystone players in Brenton Doyle, Nolan Jones and Ezequiel Tovar.

Jones quickly became Colorado’s biggest offensive threat; Tovar was a bonafide Rookie of the Year candidate and high-caliber defensive shortstop; while Doyle was so magnificent in center field that he took home a well-deserved Gold Glove. It wasn’t nearly enough to overcome the shortcomings on the rest of the roster, but it was a silver lining on an otherwise dismal season.

It could be another long season for the Rockies in 2024, but another step forward by that group is a hope shared by many.

That said, though, the progression of more young talent getting infused into the big league roster is also something to look forward to.

2022 draft picks Jordan Beck and Sterlin Thompson were quick risers in the system in their first year in the organization while Yanquiel Fernandez saw the largest stock increase in the system last season. Fernandez and Adael Amador are both nearly two years younger than Beck and Thompson, but all reached Double-A Hartford in 2023 and could conceivably be on track to reach the majors by year’s end.

That group is behind the headliners of the 2020 class – Zac Veen and Drew Romo. Plenty has been made of the wall Veen has hit in recent seasons, but he is still considered one of the standout prospects in the organization and should be healthy to start 2024 while the road is still paved for Romo to be the catcher of the future in the organization.

While it’s unlikely all play their way to the big leagues this year, it’s still a large group of potential additions to the roster this season. With a roster that is not expecting much in the way of competitiveness, seeing more young talent establish themselves around the big three from last season should provide more hope for the fanbase.

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