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Colorado Rockies prospects: No. 13, Michael Toglia

The 1B/OF made his MLB debut in 2022, but might be stashed in Triple-A due to increasing depth at both positions

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13. Michael Toglia (418 points, 24 ballots)

Michael Toglia is a switch-hitter (lefty thrower) with great raw power who should provide plus defense at first base and below average defense in right field, where he played in 17 of his 32 MLB games in 2022 but in only nine of his 270 minor league contests. The 24-year-old, 6’5”, 226-pound slugger was picked 23rd overall 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 entered 2022 coming off a year in which he had 46% of his plate appearances end in one of the Three True Outcomes (28% K, 13% BB, 4% HR). It was good to see 22 homers between High-A and Double-A, but the 142 strikeouts were a large concern. Toglia began the season repeating in Hartford, where he was 0.9 years younger than average. In 420 plate appearances in his second go at Double-A, Toglia showed the same high TTO profile as before (30% K, 12% BB, 5% HR) as part of a .234/.329/.466 (115 wRC+) batting line. That included 23 home runs (18 from the left side of the plate) among his 37 extra-base hits, plus seven steals in eight attempts.

The Rockies promoted Toglia to Triple-A Albuquerque in early August, where in the offense-friendly PCL he was 3.6 years younger than league average. With Albuquerque, Toglia was on fire, hitting .333/.413/.758 with seven homers and seven doubles in just 75 plate appearances (178 wRC+). That was enough for the Rockies to call Toglia up to the Show on August 30th, after which he became a regular starter down the stretch.

In 32 games with the Rockies, Toglia got 120 plate appearances and hit .216/.275/.378 (68 wRC+) with two homers, two triples, and eight doubles. Toglia’s 44 strikeouts and nine walks meant his TTO% in the majors was 46% — right in line with his minor league total, albeit moving a few of the walks to strikeouts. As mentioned above, the Rockies split Toglia’s time between first and right field to get his bat in the lineup. At first base, Toglia’s numbers were good but in right field he was below average and was worth about -0.2 wins defensively in total in a small sample. Net, Toglia came in just below replacement level in his big league debut.

In total, Toglia hit 32 homers in 2022 across three levels (5% of PA), striking out 193 times (31%), and walking 69 times (11%), close to a 47% TTO. Despite hitting many more homers (25 out of 32) from the left side of the plate, Toglia’s OPS was actually only slightly higher there than from the right side (.814 vs. .805) and probably somewhat of a function of opportunity (only 25% of his PA were against lefties).

Here’s video of Toglia’s 2022 MLB highlights: ranks Toglia as the 6th best first base prospect in the minors as a 45 FV player, headlined by a plus power grade and a 65 on his fielding at first base:

The signs are pointing towards Toglia being a three true outcomes kind of hitter. He has at least plus raw power from both sides of the plate, and he’s shown he can get to it at all levels and hit the ball out to all fields. While he did that more consistently in 2022, he also struck out at a 30.1 percent clip in the Minors and he’ll need to cut down on his tendency to chase early in counts to have lasting success in the big leagues. He does offset the K’s by drawing a lot of walks (13.1 percent walk rate in his Minor League career).

Defensively, Toglia has the chance to be a Gold Glover at first base, moving with ease and excellent range, terrific hands and a very strong arm. He’s played some right field, including during his time up in Colorado and is more than athletic enough to handle a corner outfield spot as needed.

Kiley McDaniel of ranked Toglia 13th in the system with a 40+ FV grade earlier this week, saying simply:

Toglia will also be in the mix for big league reps at first base in 2023 and has plus raw power, though his bat control is lacking.

Keith Law of the Athletic slotted Toglia 19th in his February 2022 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 is clearly the low group on Toglia, dropping him all the way down to 34th in their current 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 separates Toglia from the other first base prospects in the system, though he could probably use more reps in the outfield if the Rockies want him to feature there in MLB this year. Toglia’s high walk, high strikeout, high power, low average approach has worked for him pretty well in the minor leagues, but there’s real risk that approach won’t be tenable in MLB. Scouts are increasingly worried about if he will ever make consistent enough contact to become a MLB regular hitter, especially if he doesn’t also offer that outfield versatility. Then again, the Rockies have been perennially higher on Toglia than scouts, so we’ll see how they view him in 2023.

Though Toglia played regularly last September with the Rockies, it’s not as likely he’ll get that kind of run early on in 2023 given the presence of CJ Cron, Elehuris Montero, Nolan Jones, and Sean Bouchard (plus Randal Grichuk and Charlie Blackmon) at the 1B/OF/DH spots. I think Toglia will carve out a role with the Rockies this season given how they have prioritized him so far and with his ability to get his raw power into games. Still, it might take an injury or a trade to open up everyday playing time, so Colorado may stash him in Triple-A to get development reps.

My enthusiasm for the profile remains tempered by the swing and miss and the 1B/OF utility, but Toglia’s power surge in Triple-A and a reasonable MLB debut was enough for me to rank him as a 40+ FV player, 16th on my ballot.