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Minor League Season Preview: Spokane Indians

Colorado Rockies news and links for Monday, March 6, 2023

Like their A-Ball counterparts, the Fresno Grizzlies, good things do not last very long for the Colorado Rockies’ High-A affiliate, Spokane Indians. After reaching the Northwest League championship series in 2021, Spokane finished with a 64-66 record in 2022 but did get to enjoy strong performances from a few notable players along the way.

Top prospect Zac Veen posted a healthy 126 wRC+ in his 92 games with the squad before moving up to Hartford for the final stretch of the season. Drew Romo also had a good season going with a .756 OPS until a hand injury in July sidetracked his campaign. Like Veen, Julio Carreras performed well with Spokane – hitting a team-high 37 doubles – before moving on to the Yard Goats at the end of the year.

But there is plenty of talent coming in to replace what’s moved from Spokane. With that in mind, let’s preview the potential roster for the Spokane Indians in 2023.


There is a very good chance the Spokane Indians could start the 2023 season with the most impressive rotation of not only all Colorado affiliates, but the entire Northwest League. Top 2022 draft selection Gabriel Hughes (No. 8 PuRP) made a brief debut in Low-A Fresno last year and could possibly start the 2023 season there. But, as a polished three-year college product, the possibility of Hughes being ready for a bigger challenge feels much more realistic.

A similar sentiment applies to Jaden Hill (No. 6 PuRP), who also made a brief debut in Low-A last season. An LSU product, Hill has arguably the highest ceiling of any Colorado pitching prospect. That high upside and big arm could lead the organization to starting his first full season at the High-A level. Fellow 2021 draft selection McCade Brown (No. 30 PuRP) should be in-line to join him after racking up 118 strikeouts in just 89 ⅔ in Low-A last season.

Brayan Castillo and Victor Juarez (No. 22 PuRP) could also graduate from Fresno after just one season. Castillo was the opening day starter for the Grizzlies and pitched to mixed results in just under 100 innings, but still holds plenty of intrigue. Juarez, meanwhile, was pushed aggressively by the organization and performed well in 21 starts despite being 19-years-old.

For the bullpen, hard-throwing closer Angel Chivili should move to a prominent role in the late innings for Spokane. Sergio Sanchez and Luis Amoroso will likely graduate with him, teaming with holdovers Will Tribucher and Anderson Amarista to form the nucleus of the Indians’ bullpen.


After sitting behind Romo on the depth chart for much of last season, Ronaiker Palma could repeat at the High-A level, just to start the season, in order to get more playing time. But chances are good he will graduate to Double-A after his impressive 2023 season and the reins will be passed to Braxton Fulford instead.

Fulford, a sixth-round selection out of Texas Tech, has always been well-regarded defensively and has alsoshown well with the bat so far in his young career. His .268/.380/.448 slash line and 11.6% walk rate in Fresno earned him a look in the Arizona Fall League at the end of the year and should naturally transition into a starting role with the Indians in 2023.


The start of the discussion for Spokane’s infield is easy. Adael Amador’s (No. 3 PuRP) fantastic 2022 season with the Low-A Grizzlies has not only shot him up Colorado’s prospect board, but firmly placed him on most national top-100 publications. He’ll ride that success into the starting shortstop role for the Indians in 2023.

From there, it gets a little more murky. Warming Bernabel (No. 7 PuRP) was a late-season promotion and showed well enough to get invited to the Arizona Fall League and earn a spot on the 40-man roster in the winter. He seems destined for Double-A this season while another potential candidate, Juan Brito, was dealt in the offseason to Cleveland for Nolan Jones.

This should open the door for a few holdovers from last season. Specifically, Nic Kent, Christopher Navarro and Benjamin Sems could get a long look at second and third base while A.J. Lewis should have an opportunity for plenty of playing time at first base.

This infield situation could prove advantageous for Sterlin Thompson (No. 14 PuRP). A 2022 draft selection, Thompson can handle third base along with the outfield, a versatility that could be beneficial in getting him the at-bats needed for his development but against better competition than he’d face at the Low-A level.


Getting playing time at a more advanced level is also likely a goal for fellow draft selection Jordan Beck (No. 9 PuRP). The 38th overall selection in last year’s draft, Beck’s advanced bat and ability to play all three outfield positions should be an easy fit for the High-A level.

The problem, however, is there is a large crop of promising outfielders graduating to the High-A level that will also need their share of playing time.

The list starts with Benny Montgomery (No.5 PuRP), who was slowed down by injuries last season but still proved he is ready for a bigger challenge based on his 132 wRC+. Yanquiel Fernandez (No. 12 PuRP) had a scorching-hot second half last season and possesses arguably the best raw-power in the system, certainly putting him in the discussion for heavy playing time at the next level. Overshadowed in this group is Juan Guerrero, who collected 42 extra-base hits with the Grizzlies last year and is an interesting prospect in his own right.

In conclusion, the Spokane Indians have a chance to be a very special team and be a big threat in the Northwest League this season. Although there is a little uncertainty in the infield, that area still starts with one of the most talented prospects in the organization. That is more than enough to support an outfield overflowing with talent and a rotation that could be a preview for the top of the major league staff in a few years.

For fans of both Spokane and the Rockies, the Indians should be on the radar this season as they field some of the most important names in the organization.

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