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Colorado Rockies prospect rankings, mid-season 2023: numbers 10 to 6

Some familiar names begin appearing in the Top 10

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We’re now in the top ten of the mid-season 2023 Purple Row Prospects (PuRPs) list. Previously we had PuRPs 30-26, 25-21, 20-16, and 15-11. As a reminder, in this edition of the PuRPs poll, 22 ballots were cast, with 30 points granted for a first place vote, 29 for second, etc.

For each player on the PuRPs list, I’ll include a link to individual stats and contract status (via Baseball-Reference), PuRPs voting stats, a note on the 2023 season to date, and a scouting report from a national prospect writer where possible. For what it’s worth, I’ll also include where I put each player on my personal ballot. All ages are as of the date the article is posted.

10. Dyan Jorge (447 points, 22 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 16 — High Ballot 3, Mode Ballot 7, 13

How did he enter the organization?

2022 International Free Agent, Cuba

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Jorge, who signed in January 2022 out of Cuba (after two years of waiting to establish residence and other red tape), received a $2.8 million bonus from the Rockies — the largest such bonus they’ve ever handed out to a Latin American amateur free agent. For reference, that signing bonus is equivalent to the slot value of a late-first round pick in the draft, indicating a prospect has athleticism and potential to be a big league contributor.

The 6’3”, 170-pound 20-year-old shortstop is an athletic player with high upside and good bat speed that is a likely up the middle defender. Because Jorge waited to sign until 2022, the Rockies won’t have to add him to the 40-man roster until after the 2026 season (if he doesn’t force the issue before then). Upon signing, Jorge had a successful Dominican Summer League debut, then he came stateside for 2023.

In early June, Jorge started his season with the complex league team, hitting .370/.495/.644 with 11 extra-base hits in 94 PA (179 wRC+) at a league average age. That was clear-enough domination for the Rockies to bump him up to Low-A Fresno in early July, where he is 1.2 years younger than average. In 155 PA for Fresno, Jorge has a .303/.338/.372 line with ten doubles and six steals (94 wRC+). Defensively Jorge has mostly handled shortstop (11 errors in 49 games) with a few appearances at second base.

The numbers don’t especially stand out, but the age/level performance is good and importantly Jorge is impressing national scouts with his tools.

Here’s some video of Jorge in Fresno courtesy of user “Baseball.”, including a slo-mo look at the swing:

What do the scouts say?

FanGraphs is the high group on Jorge, ranking him second in the system and 49th overall in MLB as a 50 Future Value player, highlighted by 60 grades on his raw power, speed, and arm:

Jorge is an athletic marvel with as much physical projection as you’ll currently find in the minors. High-waisted and broad-shouldered, he’s built like a Fernando Tatis Jr. clone. He’s an electric rotational athlete with plus present bat speed and a build that portends more power. His downward-cutting swing may need tweaking to fully actualize his power potential, but the contact and plate discipline track record Jorge has exhibited early on in his pro career is very strong. That’s particularly notable because long-levered hitters like him tend to have at least a little bit of data-evident swing-and-miss risk.

Things are not settled on defense here. Jorge plays with a high center of gravity, he isn’t a particularly great bender, and his general lack of flexibility creates skepticism around his ability to stay at shortstop, though he has the speed to play center field if he has to move off the dirt. This is an extraordinarily talented up-the-middle prospect who has a chance to grow into huge raw power and be a well-rounded star.

Jorge slots in at seven in the system list as a 50 FV player:

Jorge’s time in international competition with the Cuban national team has certainly helped him acclimate to the pro game, having played in more games than a typical international signee. He has a very good feel at the plate and isn’t afraid to work counts, showing comfort in barreling up the baseball even when he’s behind. There is some extra-base power to tap into, but he needs to add strength and it’s unclear how much his super-narrow frame will support.

A combination of good speed and excellent instincts make Jorge dangerous on the bases, especially in things like going first-to-third. The instincts show up defensively as well, with a good chance of him sticking at shortstop, though he’s sure to see some time at second base as he embarks on his career stateside. He’s going to have to get stronger to impact the ball more to be a regular at one spot but has the skills and baseball IQ to at least be a utility type.

Kiley McDaniel of ranked Jorge as a 45+ FV player, placing him sixth in the system in February:

Jorge signed for $2.8 million and had a solid pro debut in the DSL, with a strong collection of hit tool, pitch selection and speed packed into a potential everyday-player package.

Keith Law of the Athletic listed Jorge 13th in his February org look:

[Jorge is] 6-foot-3 and very thin, with room for a good 30 pounds as he gets into his 20s. He’s a plus runner with a strong arm and soft hands, projecting to stay at shortstop, while right now the bat is all contact without power, and probably stays that way until he gets stronger. He spent all of 2022 in the DSL, hitting well but as an older player there at 19. I could see him becoming a top-5 prospect in the system in a year, or taking three or four years to get enough strength to project as a regular.

When’s he going to get to the Rockies and how good will he be once he’s there?

As a high bonus, up-the-middle player with great upside that is now playing in full season ball, Jorge is a clear player to rank for me at sixth in the system as a 45+ FV prospect. That signing bonus values him like a late-first round pick and the performance has been good enough to bump him a grade higher. Given the delay Jorge had signing, he’ll have three full minor league seasons after this one before Rule 5 eligibility looms, and I suspect by that time he’ll be forcing the issue for the Rockies.

★ ★ ★

9. Gabriel Hughes (474 points, 22 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 8 — High Ballot 5, Mode Ballot 8

How did he enter the organization?

2022 1st Round, Gonzaga University

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

The 6’4” 22-year-old (as of yesterday!) right-hander was Colorado’s first pick in 2022, going 10th overall and getting an under-slot $4 million bonus. Hughes was ranked more as a late-first rounder than a top 10 pick by national prospect watchers, but the Rockies obviously liked the starter’s frame, feel for pitching and the three pitch mix. The former two-way player boasts a fastball that touches the upper 90s but sits in the low-mid 90s and a bulldog mentality that has been compared to Max Scherzer.

After a cameo appearance at the end of 2022 with Low-A Fresno, Hughes began his professional career in earnest this season in High-A Spokane, near his old college stomping grounds of Gonzaga. Against hitters that were on average 2.1 years older than him, Hughes threw 37 23 innings across eight starts with a 5.50 ERA (3.48 xFIP), 1.20 WHIP, 12.9 K/9 rate, and 3.6 BB/9 rate. The xFIP and high K/9 rate indicates better stuff than the raw results delivered, and the Rockies agreed in promoting Hughes to Double-A Hartford in early June.

Hughes was 3.4 years younger than the Eastern League average, but he mostly held his own, even if the ERA didn’t bear that out. In 29 innings over six starts, Hughes had a 7.14 ERA but a 4.07 xFIP with a 1.55 WHIP, 9.0 K/9 rate, and 3.4 BB/9 rate for Hartford. It was a good first full professional season for Hughes, but unfortunately it ends there, as Hughes required Tommy John surgery in July. He will likely miss the bulk of 2024 as well, delaying what could have been a swift rise to the majors.

Here’s some pre-draft video on Hughes courtesy of Perfect Game:

What do the scouts say? ranked Hughes 26th in the draft class but dropped him to 18th on the system list as a 45 FV player after the injury:

A former two-way player, Hughes only started pitching full-time in 2022, so there could be some serious growth potential once he’s healthy. He already has the makings of a very good three-pitch mix coming from a solid starting pitcher’s frame. His fastball touches the upper 90s with some riding life to it, with more velocity to come. His slider is short and hard with cutter action to it, a pitch that flashes plus and misses bats. His changeup is probably his worst pitch, mostly because he didn’t throw it much in college, but there’s feel for it.

Hughes has already impressed the Rockies with his mound presence, work ethic and intelligence — he was a biology major who was on pace to graduate in three years. He goes right after hitters, and there’s confidence he’ll continue to be a solid strike-thrower the more time he has focusing on the craft, though first he’ll focus on rehabbing post-surgery. He’s the type of college arm who could move pretty quickly through the system.

The evaluation is headlined by a 60 fastball grade with a 55 on the slider and 50s on the change and control

FanGraphs ranked Hughes 33rd overall among draft prospects and slotted him seventh in the system as a 45 FV player:

Hughes has had an enigmatic first full season. In his first 2023 spring outing, he dominated Dodgers big leaguers in a Salt River Fields tuneup, but by the middle of June he was running an ERA well over six, and a scout source who saw a few of Hughes’ most recent starts prior to list publication saw him sitting 91-92 mph. Hughes has had several 2023 outings where he’s given up six or more runs, and scouts (two separate sources, in fact) who have seen him in person during the regular season say he withers as soon as runners reach base.

I don’t want to overreact to a relatively small sample, nor do I want to “predict” more than “scout” in any prospect’s case. The Rockies don’t have a good track record of developing pitchers and that may very well impact Hughes’ outcome, but he is still doing a lot of the things that have made him a great prospect since his college underclass days. Hughes has a big, prototypical starter’s frame, mid-90s arm strength (until recently), and plus breaking stuff. He’ll sit 93-95 mph early in his outings, then tends to fall off into the low 90s late, with cut and sink that keeps him off barrels. He also has a two-plane slider that has transitioned from being a short, cuttery pitch into a more traditional sweeper. He may now have two different breaking balls as evidenced by the range of velos he exhibits (he’ll bend them in anywhere between 77 and 86 mph), but their shapes tend to run together. Some of the longer ones are plus. Hughes’ delivery is a little violent and inconsistent such that there’s relief risk here, but his size, athleticism, arm speed, and stuff are all very exciting, and even if he moved to the bullpen, he’d have a shot to work as a set-up man or better. Despite the extreme inconsistency of his results so far in pro ball, he remains in the 45 FV tier as a no. 4/5 starter, albeit with greater variance than was ascribed to his prospectdom before last year’s draft.

Keith Law of the Athletic ranked Hughes 30th before the draft and ranked him eighth in February:

[Hughes] is up to 97 mph and the slider can flash plus, with a big, durable build but he has a long arm action that he doesn’t repeat well enough for average command. He also needs to develop his changeup, which is a distant third pitch but which he’ll need to get lefties and overcome the lack of deception in the delivery.

Kiley McDaniel of ranked Hughes 30th before the draft as a 45 FV prospect, saying that “Hughes is a big righty with three above-average pitches and solid performance, though he was hit around in his last few starts.”

When’s he going to get to the Rockies and how good will he be once he’s there?

Hughes is a strong starting pitcher prospect with good upside and pedigree, even though he seemed more like a late-first round pick than the top ten spot he was drafted in and it was surprising the Rockies had him so far ahead in bonus money of fellow top-40 picks Sterlin Thompson and Jordan Beck (both of whom rank higher on this PuRPs list). I thought of all three players pretty similarly (45 FV) when they were drafted, and that’s the band Hughes finds himself at the back of on my list (12th) given the TJ surgery.

Before the injury, Hughes was tracking like a potential late 2024 MLB debut, but now that’s probably been pushed back a year.

★ ★ ★

8. Benny Montgomery (474 points, 22 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 5 — High Ballot 5, Mode Ballot 7

How did he enter the organization?

2021 1st Round, Red Land HS (PA)

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Montgomery’s status as the eighth-overall pick in the 2021 draft is a clear indication of his prospect level, as are scouting evaluations that show Montgomery with three plus tools (run, arm, field) with above-average power, which led the Rockies to give him a slightly under-slot $5 million bonus. The 6’4”, 200-pound 20-year-old (for another two weeks) gave scouts pause at draft time with a big hitch in his swing that the Rockies are trying to clean up, but the power potential is there along with excellent athleticism that should keep Montgomery in center field.

Montgomery was assigned to High-A Spokane this year, where he is 2.5 years younger than average, after an injury marred 2022 that limited him to 64 games. He’s stayed healthy this year, having already played nearly 100 games, and is hitting .265/.351/.390 in 430 PA with nine homers among his 27 extra-base hits and 14 steals (105 wRC+). The 27.5% K rate (vs. 11% BB) is worrisome of course, but I’m choosing to accentuate the fact that he’s been above average offensively as one of the youngest players in the league while playing mostly center field (three errors in 81 defensive games).

Here’s some video of Montgomery hitting in late 2021 courtesy of FanGraphs. There’s not a lot of loud contact:

What do the scouts say?

In the report accompanying the above video, FanGraphs ranks Montgomery 22nd in the system as a 40 FV player:

Montgomery was a relatively divisive amateur prospect who became even more polarizing after his pro debut. The Pennsylvania high schooler was one of the toolsier prep players available, a big-framed center field prospect with rare athleticism and power projection, and fair batted ball showcase performance for a cold weather guy. Detractors were scared of how cacophonous Montgomery’s swing was and thought he’d need an overhaul to hit at all in pro ball. Model-driven teams rounded down on Montgomery because he was nearly 19 on draft day. Even though Montgomery’s swing was odd, he still put balls in play at a pretty good rate against his elite peers. … Montgomery had a big first full season (.313/.394/.502) aided by a .419 BABIP and the hitting environment in the Cal League. When you adjust for BABIP, his 2023 performance hasn’t been all that different, as Montgomery is once again striking out at a roughly 27% clip.

I don’t see how this is going to work unless Montgomery’s swing changes. His hands are incredibly noisy and active in a couple different directions while the ball is in flight, and I fear he’s going to be very K-prone as he ascends the minors. He still runs well enough to be developed in center field, but Montgomery isn’t great at actually fielding the baseball. His approach to corralling hits in front of him is tentative and slow, and he often mishandles the ball, surrendering an extra base. If he can actually develop into a viable center fielder, which he has the wheels to do, then he could be a Jake Marisnick-y reserve outfielder.

The evaluation is highlighted by a 70 speed and 60 arm grade.

Montgomery is ranked eighth as a 50 FV player by

A lot of how Montgomery goes about it on the field wouldn’t be found in an instructional video. There are many moving parts to his swing, with concerns about that leading to too much swing-and-miss. While he made a lot of loud contact in 2022, his nearly 27 percent strikeout rate is worth noting and something he’ll have to show he can manage as he moves up the ladder. He’s continuing to add strength to his frame, and that, along with a continued focus on refining his mechanics, should help him keep tapping into his plus raw power.

Montgomery routinely posts plus run times, but he does so in an unorthodox manner as well, leading to body resistance and perhaps contributing to him breaking down. He tried to play through the quad injury at first, but once he shut it down and came back, he was one of the better players in the California League. He’s learned a lot about how to train and take care of his body, which should help him reach his ceiling as a big league regular in center field.

That evaluation is headlined by a 70 speed grade but Montgomery also gets 60 grades on his arm and fielding ability as well as a 55 for power.

Keith Law of the Athletic had ranked Montgomery lower than the others at 28th in his pre-draft rankings but he ranked Montgomery third in the system in February (and 79th overall), just outside his top 100:

[Montgomery is] an outstanding athlete and a 70 runner who projects to be a plus defender in center and should add value on the bases, although he only attempted 10 steals last year due to the quad issue (and was successful on nine of them). He’s had a hitch in his swing since high school, although it looked somewhat reduced in 2022, still showing some extraneous movement but with the hand acceleration to overcome it. He destroyed left-handed pitching last year and was just above average against righties, which you’d expect from a right-handed hitter with that kind of swing. It’s star-level upside with plus raw power and the speed/defense, although he will have to cut down on the swing and miss, likely by working with coaches to minimize that hand movement, and maybe not get hit by so many pitches (10 last year in those 56 games) to keep himself off the injured list.

Kiley McDaniel at ranked Montgomery 10th pre-draft and listed him seventh in the system as a 45 FV player in February:

Montgomery was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2021 draft with the sales pitch being that he’s a 6-4 center fielder with plus speed, a plus glove in center field, plus power potential and feel for contact despite a funky swing. His pitch selection is also lacking, but he could be in for a breakout if it improves.

When’s he going to get to the Rockies and how good will he be once he’s there?

Montgomery possesses a star-level ceiling who will likely stick in center field with a MLB ETA of late 2025 or so. The scouting reports about his hit tool have me concerned and the injuries last year haven’t helped getting him more professional reps, but taking risks on this type of player is exactly what I want the Rockies to do. He’s been OK this year, but not enough for me to move Montgomery out of my 45+ FV tier, seventh on my list, acknowledging both his star potential and the risk relating from the path he has to MLB generally and his swing change needs specifically.

★ ★ ★

7. Sterlin Thompson (505 points, 22 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 14 — High Ballot 5, Mode Ballot 6

How did he enter the organization?

2022 Supplemental First Round, University of Florida

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Fair or not, Thompson’s progress will be judged in part by Rockies fans by the fact his draft pick (31st overall in 2022) was the only compensation Colorado received for Trevor Story leaving in free agency, instead of a widely-assumed deadline trade. The good news is that thus far Thompson has hit the snot out of the ball and is already in Double-A.

Thompson (who was born in Longmont) signed for a slot bonus of just over $2.43 million as a productive draft-eligible sophomore college hitter from the toughest conference in NCAA. The 22-year-old 6’4” lefty hitter, right-handed thrower split time between second base and the outfield in college at Florida, but as a professional he has played mostly at third base by the Rockies.

Thompson was assigned to High-A Spokane to begin 2023, where he was 0.5 years younger than league average. He missed all of May with an injury, but when he was on the field Thompson was mashing. He hit .323/.399/.520 with seven homers among his 30 extra-base hits and 14 steals in 263 PA for Spokane (146 wRC+). The Rockies promoted Thompson to Double-A Hartford in early August, where he is 1.8 years younger than league average.

Upper-minors pitching thus far hasn’t slowed Thompson either, as he has a .306/.393/.612 line with five homers and three steals in his first 56 PA at the level (187 wRC+). Defensively, Thompson has six errors (five at third base) in 64 defensive games.

Here’s some video of Thompson this year at Florida courtesy of Prospects Worldwide:

What do the scouts say? had Thompson ranked 29th in the draft as a 50 FV player and place him sixth in the system (as a 3B/OF):

It’s hard not to like Thompson’s setup and swing from the left side of the plate. He has a very solid approach and sticks to his gameplan with conviction. He’s always been a hit-over-power type, one who hunts doubles and not home runs, but there’s plenty of extra-base authority for him to tap into. He’s never going to sell out for power, but 15 or more homers a year in the big leagues isn’t unreasonable.

Thompson was a shortstop in his prep days, and while the Gators gave him some time at second base, he mostly manned right field. He likes playing on the dirt, and the Rockies worked third base back into his game late in the year, thinking he has the actions and more than enough arm for it. He’ll keep up versatility by playing a corner outfield and third, giving the Rockies options to get his advanced bat into the lineup.

FanGraphs ranked Thompson 46th among draft prospects and slots him at sixth in the system as a 45 FV player, albeit as a DH:

Thompson doesn’t have a position. He’s no better a third base defender than a lot of people reading this sentence right now, and barring a successful conversion to the outfield, he projects as a DH. It means he’s going to have to rake to be a big leaguer. The good news is, he might. While he isn’t as physically impressive as a DH-only stud like Jorge Soler, Thompson’s bat control and feel for the strike zone elevates modest physical tools enough to make him a likely big league contributor. He has a compact lefty swing and is adept at barrelling fastballs and sending them to all fields. He rarely ever misses an in-zone heater and can drop the bat head and hit ones down-and-in, or flatten his path and drive fastballs at the letters the other way. Thompson struggled to connect with secondary pitches at Florida, but his ability to spot them in mid-air and lay off of them has served him well so far in pro ball. His chase rates are supremely low, which is helping him target pitches he can drive as well as take a walk. The upper-level track record of a Michael Busch or Edouard Julien, two DH-only Top 100 prospects, is not yet here. Thompson’s lack of overt physical tools means most of his prospect stock will be determined by his performance rather than how he looks. He missed all of May with an injury but when healthy, he’s been the most consistent hitter on a stacked Spokane roster.

Law listed Thompson as a OF/3B/2B when ranking him seventh in the org in February:

Thompson was the Rockies’ second pick in the 2022 draft, 31st overall, as a draft-eligible sophomore at Florida after he went undrafted out of high school in the five-round 2020 draft. He has a great left-handed swing and a real two-strike approach, showing doubles power as a Gator that should translate into more home runs in the next few years. He played right field and second base at Florida, while the Rockies moved him over to third base when they moved him up to Low A for the end of the season; he moves well enough for the infield but his throwing motion isn’t great and he might be better suited to the right side. Regardless of position, he looks like he can hit and do so with enough power to profile as a regular, even in an outfield corner.

Baseball Prospectus ranked Thompson 15th in the system in November, listing him as an outfielder:

A Rockies Comp pick in last summer’s draft, Thompson broadly fits with what they tend to target in college bats—a corner masher with a bit more defensive versatility than you’d expect. Thompson didn’t take the jump his junior year some scouts expected, but he had a very nice season for the Gators while playing a fair bit of second base in addition to right field. The Rockies are giving him some run at third, and he’s a passable infielder at present, but his likely major league landing spot is in corner outfield. Thompson has a bit less power and is a bit less pull happy than [Jordan] Beck—while a better all-around hitter—but I have similar concerns about his bat speed and in-zone whiff, especially when his noisy swing gets out of sync. ranked Thompson 11th in the system as a 45 FV player in February:

Thompson may be able to play some second base, but probably fits best in a corner outfield spot as a pure hitter with 55-grade raw power held back by below-average pitch selection at the moment.

When’s he going to get to the Rockies and how good will he be once he’s there?

In Thompson, I see another hit-over-power prospect with uncertain defensive utility where the hit tool will need to carry him up the prospect ladder. Thompson appears to be a particularly good version of this prospect profile (he’s got decent raw power) and the hit tool is the most important one, but it certainly is a narrower path to success than I would like. Still, the pedigree and production even into the upper minors this season are enough to rank Thompson ninth on my list as a 45 FV player. I can envision him as an option for the Rockies as soon as next year.

★ ★ ★

6. Drew Romo (517 points, 22 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 4 — High Ballot 4, Mode Ballot 6, 8, 9

How did he enter the organization?

2020 Competitive Balance Round A, The Woodlands HS (TX)

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

In my opinion, Drew Romo is Colorado’s catcher of the future, full stop. The 21-year-old backstop (he’ll turn 22 next week) has fallen off the back of the top 100 prospect lists he was on before 2023 began, but I’m still a fan. The 6’1”, 205-pound catcher is a member of quite possibly the riskiest prospect demographic out there: a high school catcher who is also a switch-hitter to boot. Still, Romo provides a strong floor as an elite defensive player with Gold Glove potential behind the plate.

Romo was the first catcher the Rockies had drafted in the top 100 picks of the draft since 1998 (he was the highest the franchise has ever picked at 35th overall in 2020, signing for a slot $2.1 million bonus). He has played this year at Double-A Hartford, where Romo is 2.8 years younger than league average. Romo started off the season cold with a .536 OPS in April and a .590 OPS in May, but he’s turned it around since a bit, compiling a .849 OPS in June, .823 in July, and .738 in August.

In all, Romo has a .242/.297/.408 line with nine homers among his 28 extra-base hits and five steals (88 wRC+). He has cratered hitting from the right-handed side against lefties, managing only a .408 OPS vs. a .801 OPS batting left-handed, while he has struck out 20% of the time and walked 7%. It’s still important to remember Romo’s positional utility and youth as well in this discussion — out of Romo’s 1,082 professional PA, only 24 of them (2%) have come against a pitcher who is younger than him.

Defensively, Romo hasn’t sparkled behind the plate, despite his reputation. He has committed a stunning 14 errors in 66 games with eight passed balls, throwing out 22% of runners attempting a steal. In all, you’d prefer a few more walks, a bit more power, and cleaner stats behind the plate, but Romo is holding his own in Double-A this year.

Romo struck out in 19% of his PA and walking in 8%, a perfectly acceptable split given his defensive utility. Speaking of that, he didn’t have gaudy stats behind the plate (18% caught stealing, eight errors, eight passed balls), but scouts nonetheless give him high marks. but there’s no denying Romo had a strong second professional season before his injury.

Here’s some video on Romo hitting from both sides of the plate and behind the dish defensively from fall instructs and some high school footage courtesy of FanGraphs:

In addition, here’s some of Romo’s highlights from 2022.

What do the scouts say?

FanGraphs backed off their pre-season top 100 evaluation of Romo, dropping him down to 11th in the system as a 40+ FV player:

Even while he makes an above-average rate of contact at Double-A Hartford, Romo is having a down 2023 with the bat. He also doesn’t look quite the same as a defender. His receiving is still fine, but his arm strength has been more average and his ball-blocking ability has regressed. He looks less twitchy than he has historically, as high school Romo was one of the more athletic catching prospects of the last decade. It’s pertinent to be kind to catchers having a rough stretch, as the physical grind of the position often masks their talent for long periods of time. Romo’s ability to play the position at all, coupled with his contact ability, would be enough to make him a career big leaguer, but he won’t be a primary catcher unless the impact defense we’ve seen from him in the past returns.

Romo is ranked ninth in the system by as a 45 FV player, with plus grades on the arm and defense:

When healthy, the switch-hitter has shown the ability to make consistent hard contact. He was better from the right side of the plate in 2022, and while he did improve his walk rate a bit, he’s still a free swinger who could tap into his power more with better selectivity. His 2022 production plummeted in the second half, with a .502 OPS and a 24.8 strikeout rate from July 1 on, something he can show was caused by the injury and not regression of approach.

If he can get back in rhythm at the plate, he profiles as a big league regular backstop thanks to his outstanding defensive tools. He has a plus arm and moves well behind the plate with plus athleticism and agility as someone who runs well, especially for a catcher. The Rockies are excited to have him back healthy so he can continue to show he belongs in conversations about the best catching prospects in the game.

Romo just missed the top 100 list of Law in February and was ranked sixth in the system:

Romo was the Rockies’ second pick in the 2020 draft, an elite defensive catcher for a high schooler who had big questions around his bat, but he’s hit extremely well in pro ball, to the point that he might end up a top-5 catcher in baseball at his peak. He has a short swing with good feel for the barrel, showing enough power to project to average when he fills out, maybe 12-18 homers a year.


He’s a superb receiver and framer who’s advanced already as a game-caller and has a plus arm, to the point where his glove will be major-league ready before his bat. He’s already enough of a contact hitter, even when young for his levels, with enough strength projection that I think he could end up a .300 hitter with double-digit homers and significant defensive value to boot.

Kiley McDaniel of slotted Romo fourth in the system in February as a 50 FV player, ranking him 128th overall:

Romo was universally seen as a plus defender with a plus arm and some power potential at the plate when he went No. 35 in the 2020 draft. He has been better than expected as a hitter, but his in-game power has been well below average and that will dictate if he’s a low-end regular or potential All-Star.

Romo was fourth on Baseball Prospectus’ system ranking in November 2022 as a 55 OFP player:

Romo’s glove still rates as well-above-average, garnering at least plus marks for both blocking and framing. At the plate, he makes good swing decisions, but a wide base cuts off much of his above-average raw power, and a contact-oriented stroke leaves him with exit velocities far off what you’d like at this point. There’s more to unlock at the plate, and the defense will likely get him to the majors one way or the other, but Romo’s 2022 is a reminder once again, that catching prospects are weird.

Romo is a prep catching prospect who struggled after a level jump. He hasn’t worked close to a standard 100-game workload behind the plate yet, and while you could project both offensive tools at average-or-better, there’s a lot of variance there as he moves up the ladder and spends more time decked out in the tools of ignorance.

When’s he going to get to the Rockies and how good will he be once he’s there?

The riskiness of the profile tends to temper enthusiasm about Romo, but the defensive ability is good enough and the floor for a MLB catcher that provides value is so low that I think a player with Romo’s defensive tools and offensive profile is a very likely switch-hitting big league regular with an above average ceiling. The defense evaluations backing up a bit led me to drop Romo to the top of my 45 FV tier, eighth on my list, but I am still a believer in his ability to become that catcher of the future for the Rockies.

★ ★ ★

Tomorrow, it’s time to enter the top five of the mid-season 2023 PuRPs list!